The casual fan often tunes out Day Two of the Draft from the get-go: the flash is in the First Round, after all, isn’t it? And for Yankee fans, this isn’t a crazy impulse; it often seems like while many teams draft high-upside young guns they try to woo away from college with their excessive cash in rounds 3-10, the Yankees…never quite seem to. They often pick college bats further down the board, fringy lefty pitchers who’ve dominated college, or familiar names (hello, Michael O’Neill!). Sure, there are exceptions (Mason Williams in the 4th and Austin Jackson in the 8th come to mind), but mostly, no one’s sitting at their desk watching rounds 3-10. Except me! I am!
It’s no coincidence that, despite some high-profile whiffs, many of the team’s most exciting prospects seem to be these high-upside mid-round kids who fall in love with $$. That being said, here are the three Yankee picks from day two that I’m most interested in following in the coming months.
The Yanks actually did it! A high school arm in the top-40 of many draft boards that the NYY were able to snag at 92, this is a USC commitment they should do everything in their power to break. The son of Dodgers (and ex-Red Sox) International Scouting VP David Finley, Drew sits 88-92 with the fastball, but that should certainly climb. A nice, swift lesson to the Dodgers: you steal Don Mattingly, we take your child. Simple as that.
Finley’s another SoCal arm that Damon Oppenheimer’s been infatuated with; it’s rare the Yanks actually end up with people they’re connected with pre-draft, and they were supposedly looking at Finley with a much earlier pick. He struggled with his consistency in the spring, but no one’s really concerned. I’m choosing to highlight the fact that he had a 20-K game amidst those struggles. That’s a pretty decent amount of K’s. The Major League record for K’s. Decent.
6th Round, 183rd Selection: Brandon Wagner, “2B”, Howard College
As a caveat before we start, this was a fairly weak year for JUCO competition in the state of Texas. That being said, Brandon Wagner is the best Junior College player in Texas this season. That’s something. Being the best in a state like Texas is always something.
Wagner’s got real pop; the ball really seems to fly year in and year out at tiny Howard College, but Wagner slugged near .900, and displays 20-homer power already. I stuck “2B” in quotes because…well, analysts seem to think he may not display infield actions. He’s 6’1″, 200 lbs, and his bat may carry him to the outfield in the long run. But for now, I don’t think any Yankee fan will have a problem with picking a slugging middle infielder with one of these wild-card picks.
That’s what I’m talking about! Toolsy, powerful outfielder Jackson screams upside (and he’s a senior, so he’ll sign). He hit .417 with 20 bombs and 72 RBI in on 45 games this spring, but numbers are numbers at the college level. I was most intrigued by the in-person scouting report I read from Lakeland reporter Brady Fredericksen (@Brady_Fred), who watched Jackson’s FSC team square off with the Detroit Tigers in Spring Training, and didn’t think Jackson looked out of place with the big boys. Jackson could debut with SI, but could move quickly if the Yanks decide to push him with age-appropriate competition, and I’m very interested to see if he booms right away. He was also a finalist for the Tino Martinez Award, which I assume is the award for who would be the most likely college player to someday punch Armando Benitez.