Prospect Spotlight

2018 Draft: Yankees take catcher Josh Breaux in the 2nd round

Some things are just too perfect.

With their second round pick last night, the Yankees picked catcher Josh Breaux. To announce the pick, the BRO-tastic Nick Swisher, who says bro more often than Eduardo Nunez’s helmet flies off, got to do the honors and it was beautiful. To the video:

In addition to being an amazing announcement, I think I figured out how to make the MLB draft more popular – have Nick Swisher announce every pick! You know he would love to do it. But back to Josh BRO, I mean Breaux.

Breaux is different from first round pick Anthony Seigler in the sense that Breaux is a larger more power-oriented catcher. He is 6’ 1” and 220 lbs. and has some of the best right-handed power in this draft. There are concerns about his ability to stay behind the plate because of his size, but he put in a lot of work this past offseason and alleviated many of those concerns. Breaux went to a JuCo and was able to be drafted as a 20-year-old sophomore. He was previously drafted last year by the Astros in the 36th round but decided to return to school for another year. MLB Pipeline ranked him the 71st best prospect in the draft and Fangraphs had him at 96th overall.

Scouting Director, Damon Oppenheimer, was effusive with his praise for Breaux and according to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, Oppenheimer said the following about Breaux:

“Josh Breaux is another guy with a really good makeup,” Oppenheimer said. “He’s still young as a junior college guy, but his arm is huge and he has raw power. His ability to hit has really matured this year. With Breaux, we think we have an impact tools guy who’s a catcher. You’re talking about a big, strong player who shows up and people understand right away why you took him.”

Fangraphs had the following brief write-up about Breaux: Two-way player who has been up to 100 on the mound, has plus power at the plate. Catching needs work, has dealt with shoulder issue that might undo everything.

Image courtesy of Linda Peters, Falmouth Commodores

And MLB Pipeline had the following more detailed report:

Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 20 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

Josh and his older brother Joe teamed to help McLennan (Texas) reach the 2017 Junior College World Series, with Josh ranking among the national juco leaders with 19 homers and 82 RBI, before both were drafted in the 36th round. Joe turned down the Phillies and transferred to Alabama, while Josh returned to the Highlanders as the consensus top juco prospect for 2018. He has maintained that status despite elbow issues that prevented him from catching for a month and have limited his appearances on the mound, where he has been clocked as high as 100 mph.

Breaux has well above-average raw power to all fields and an aggressive right-handed swing that generates uncommon bat speed. He has a maximum-effort approach at the plate (and on the mound), and while he doesn’t strike out excessively, his lack of patience is a cause of concern. He did show that his pop plays with wood bats and against better pitching when he finished fifth in the Cape Cod League with six homers last summer.

Scouts were skeptical of Breaux’s ability to stay at catcher when they saw him as a freshman, but he has improved defensively and projects as at least an adequate receiver. His arm strength is an asset behind the plate, though the Arkansas commit needs to improve his throwing accuracy. Despite his impressive radar-gun readings, his violent delivery would make it difficult for him to hold up as a full-time pitcher.

My take: You can never have too many catchers and a good offensive catcher might be the most valuable commodity in baseball. There are definitely similarities between Breaux and Gary Sanchez – they’re both on the bigger size for catchers, have huge power, and rocket arms. I like that the Yankees went for upside with this pick and took someone who they felt was one of the best talents remaining.

Day Two Preview

The draft continues today with rounds 3-10. There are several high-end talents remaining such as Kumar Rocker, Mike Siani, and Jake Wong who have all been connected to the Yankees at various points this draft season. If they Yankees choose to go the high talent route, they have been connected to Adam Hackenberg, a(nother) high school catcher and Tristan Beck, a pitcher from Stanford who they picked last year and did not sign. Unfortunately, day two tends to be the most boring day of the draft and it is unlikely that these guys will be picked because of how the bonus pool system works. Teams have a set amount of money to spend on their Round 1-10 picks. If they do not use up all of that money, they can roll it over and use it on players drafted in rounds 11-40. These high-end high school players are still on the board because they have signability concerns and there is much less risk in taking one of them in the later rounds and offering them a large bonus. If they take it, great. If not, you lost out on the players available in round 23 or whatever instead of losing out on the guys available in the earlier rounds.

You can contact Rohan on Twitter @rohanarcot20

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