New York Yankees 2019 MLB Draft Report Card
Every year at the conclusion of the regular season, Baseball America revisits each teams' most recent draft class. Each class has its no-doubt, high-profile names to keep an eye on, but our annual draft report cards highlight the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more. Here are the names you need to know from every organization's 2019 draft.
Best Pure Hitter: This is a virtual tie between SS Anthony Volpe (1) and SS Josh Smith (2), who each have swings geared for line drives now with power expected to develop as they move up the ladder in pro ball. Volpe’s true ability was sapped by a bout of mononucleosis, while Smith posted a .927 OPS in the short-season New York-Penn League.
Best Power: Western Kentucky OF Jake Sanford (3) has an intriguing but unpolished set of tools, including raw power that ranks as a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.
Fastest Runner: The Yankees’ class lacked a true burner, but Volpe’s plus run times give him the edge in this category.
Best Defensive Player: Volpe takes this category too, on the strength of the range and arm strength that will allow him a chance to stick at shortstop in the long term. Amateur scouts praised the consistency and sureness of his hands and thought of him as one of the better defenders at the position.
Best Athlete: Sanford, who played hockey among a litany of other sports while growing up in Nova Scotia, Canada, is the winner here thanks to his diverse athletic background.
Best Fastball: South Florida product RHP Nelson Alvarez (13) has touched 100 mph with his heater and can sit in the mid-90s. The pitch has the carrying life that typically gets swings and misses up in the zone.
Best Pro Debut: Smith’s strong turn in the New York-Penn League, where he ranked as the league’s No. 16 prospect, made him an easy choice for this category. Smith hit .324/.450/.477 with 25 walks to just 17 strikeouts in 33 games.
Most Intriguing Background: Sanford’s long path to pro ball—a sparse high school career, two years at Mid-Plains (Neb.) JC, a year at Western Kentucky—plus a multi-sport background helps him stand out above the rest.
Closest To The Majors: Smith’s college pedigree and hot start as a pro could help him get there quickly. Alvarez’s high-octane fastball and improved slider could put him on a fast track as well.
The One Who Got Away: The Yankees selected RHP Jack Leiter (20)—the son of former big leaguer Al Leiter—in the 20th round knowing he was likely to head to Vanderbilt for two seasons before making himself available for pro ball. He is currently one of the top prospects in the 2021 draft class, when he will be a draft-eligible sophomore.
Best Late-Round Pick: Alvarez’s powerful fastball-slider combination in the 13th round could prove to be a steal if he ascends through the system as the Yankees expect.