2017 MLB Draft Grades: New York Yankees
Best Pure Hitter: The Yankees drafted one position player in the top 10 rounds and signed just six in the entire draft. OF Canaan Smith (4) has a very advanced batting eye. Smith walked 57 times as a high school senior, showing a willingness to take free pass after free pass. He then led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in walks. Smith has above-average bat speed and some power potential to go with his picky plate discipline.
Best Power Hitter: OF Steven Sensley (12) has 70 raw power on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He hit 11 home runs for Louisiana-Lafayette this spring and had a number of 110+ mph exit velocities as measured by Trackman.
Fastest Runner: Smith is an average runner. RHP Harold Cortijo (14) turned in plus times as a position player.
Best Defensive Player: SS/2B Ricky Surum (16) is stretched as a pro shortstop and is better as a second baseman, but he’s the only shortstop/catcher/center fielder the Yankees’ signed.
Best Fastball: RHP Clarke Schmidt (1) is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but pre-injury he was locating a lively 92-94 mph fastball that touched 96-97. RHP Matt Sauer (2) has touched 97 as well and RHP Trevor Stephan (3) tickles 94-97 mph regularly.
Best Secondary Pitch: Schmidt’s slider was a plus pitch before his elbow injury. It’s a mid-80s power slider with excellent tilt. Sauer’s (2) low-80s slider has two-plane tilt and the potential to develop into a plus pitch.
Best Pro Debut: Stephan was 1-1, 1.39 with 43 strikeouts in 32.1 innings with short-season Staten Island. His Staten Island teammate RHP Glenn Otto (5) was 3-0, 1.59 with 25 strikeouts in 17.2 innings.
Best Athlete: The Yankees are developing Cortijo as a pitcher, but he was a prospect as a position player as well. He was an athletic center fielder with plus speed in high school and that athleticism is apparent on the mound as well.
Most Intriguing Background: Schmidt’s brother Clate is a pitcher in the Tigers organization and cancer survivor, while their father Dwight is a colonel in the U.S. Marines. C Ryan Lidge (20) is a cousin of former Astros/Phillies righthander Brad Lidge.
Identifying Statistical Benchmarks For Successful Rule 5 Picks
Geoff Pontes introduces the findings of his experiment regarding what it takes to make a successful Rule 5 pick.
Closest To The Majors: Schmidt’s recovery from Tommy John surgery will slow his development, but he’s a polished college pitcher once he gets back on the mound. Stephan and Otto are a pair of power-arms that could climb quickly as relievers.
Best Late-Round Pick: Cortijo has potential as an athletic righthander. RHP Garrett Whitlock (18) has shown a plus fastball and performed in the Cape Cod League, but a back strain ruined his junior season at UAB. He bounced back as a pro, striking out 22 and walking no one in 14.1 pro innings.