New York Yankees 2021 MLB Draft Report Card
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Best Pure Hitter: First-rounder Trey Sweeney takes this category thanks to his combination of hittability and power potential from the left side. He showed the Yankees’ scouting, player-development and sports science departments everything they wanted to see in order to allay the concerns that might be attached with a player coming from a smaller school where he might not face the best competition in the country on a regular basis.
Best Power Hitter: Oklahoma third baseman Tyler Hardman (5) proved in the Cape Cod League that he could hit for power. Facing some of the best college talent in the country while hitting with wood, Hardman smacked eight home runs, good for third in the league. He added 12 home runs in his redshirt junior year, which equaled his career total through the previous two seasons and change with the Sooners.
Fastest Runner: Louisville 2B Cooper Bowman (4) stole 44 bases in 50 tries in two seasons at Iowa Western JC before transferring to Louisville, where he added 20 more swipes in 24 tries to his career mark. He also showed 70-grade run times during the 60-yard dash.
Best Defensive Player: Sweeney takes this category, too, because the Yankees believe his combination of speed, athleticism and a strong internal clock gives him a strong chance to stick at shortstop in the long term. If he can, he’ll give the Yankees another impressive young shortstop to go with top prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza.
Best Fastball: Ohio State righthander Jack Neely (11) has touched 100 mph with his heater and was sitting in the upper 90s in his professional debut. The pure velocity gives him a leg up on all the other fastballs in the Yankees’ class.
Best Secondary Pitch: The Yankees liked everything they saw from Stanford righthander Brendan Beck (2), whose combination of a four-pitch arsenal, clean arm action, feel to pitch and a deep competitive streak made him a desirable choice early in the draft. Beck’s slider is his best offspeed offering and projects as a potentially plus pitch as he develops.
Best Pro Debut: Sweeney was excellent in his pro debut, spent mostly in the Low-A Southeast, where he hit seven home runs and produced an OPS of .875 over 29 games. He also added a home run in his team’s championship series showdown with Bradenton.
Best Athlete: Sweeney or Bowman fit here, as could Maryland shortstop Benjamin Cowles (10), who led the Big Ten with 18 home runs this past season.
Most Intriguing Background: Beck is the brother of Giants prospect Tristan Beck. Ben Rice (12), who was a catcher at Dartmouth, which did not play this past spring, was also an elite hockey player during his high school days.
Closest To The Majors: Beck’s combination of pedigree, polish and stuff should allow him to move through the system quickly once his career really gets going in earnest in 2022.
Best Late-Round Pick or NDFA: The Yankees believe they got a steal by taking the fireballing Neely in the 11th round. They are also fans of outfielder Grant Richardson (17), who comes from the same Indiana program that produced 2020 NDFA standout Elijah Dunham.
One Who Got Away: The Yankees signed 18 of their 20 picks but believe Vanderbilt catcher Dominic Keegan (20) has a bright future as an offensive-minded catcher.