The Major League Baseball Amateur Draft took place earlier this week, with the Baltimore Orioles taking the first selection. The Yankees’ draft began with a bit of a surprise. The Bombers used the 30th overall pick to take New Jersey prep star shortstop Anthony Volpe from the Delbarton School.
The franchise also owned the 38th pick (Competitive Balance Round A), obtained from the Cincinnati Reds in the Sonny Gray trade, and chose left-hander pitcher TJ Sikkema from the University of Missouri.
Before looking at all the of the Yankees’ selections, here’s a quick peek back at the first five picks of the 2018 Yankees’ draft class.
2018 Yankees’ draft picks
Perhaps influenced by Gary Sanchez‘ defensive play and the need to add some depth at the position, the Yankees selected catchers with the first two picks in the 2018 draft. They also drafted five more catchers in the additional rounds.
The Yankees’ number one pick (23rd overall), Anthony Seigler, played a dozen games for both the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Yankees and the fellow rookie-ball Pulaski Yankees. Seigler tore up the GCL but didn’t fare as well for Pulaski. After starting the 2019 season in extended Spring Training, Seigler will join the Charleston RiverDogs.
The Yankees second-round selection (67th overall), Josh Breaux, was a product of McLennan Community College (TX). He played a few games for the GCL team in 2018 before putting up solid numbers (.280/.295/.370, 13 RBI in 27 games) for Staten Island.
Breaux, the 15th ranked Yankees prospect in the MLB Pipeline, is tearing things up this season for the Charleston RiverDogs (‘A’). He’s produced a .295/.323/.500 slash line with seven home runs and 30 RBI in 30 games. The 21-year old’s strikeout total isn’t horrible – 1 K/3.2 AB – but he could improve on his year-to-date total of four walks.
He, along with teammates Canaan Smith, Alexander Vizcaino, Josh Stowers, Mickey Gasper, and Luis Gil, are among the 2019 South Atlantic League (SAL) All-Stars.
Outfielder Ryder Green (Karns HS, Knoxville, TN) played in the GCL after the Yankees’ used their third round pick for him. He struggled to make the adjustment from high school to professional pitching (.708 OPS), and will start off this season in a short-season league.
Fourth round selection, Frank German, was the first pitcher the Yankees selected last year. He dominated the NY-Penn league with a 10-4, 2.22 mark for Staten Island. German, no relation to Domingo German, also posted a 0.90 WHIP and averaged 12.2 K/9 IP.
German, who was born in Queens, is putting together a solid 2019 season for the Tampa Tarpons in the Florida St. League. Facing better hitters has caused German WHIP to rise and his K/9 IP to lower. He pitched to a 3.03 ERA in seven starts but back-to-back shaky outings saw that mark rise to 4.26.
Brandon Lockridge, selected with the fifth pick out of Troy University (AL), is mashing SAL pitching for Charleston. Almost half of Lockridge’s hits have gone for extra bases. He has nine home runs, 18 doubles, and two triples, and is slugging .476. Like a lot of young hitters, Lockridge needs to cut down on his strikeouts, but he has drawn 20 walks in 54 games. (Lockridge was added to the SAL All-Star as an injury replacement.)
The centerfielder has also swiped 10 bases in 11 attempts.
Delbarton’s most famous 2019 grad is Jack Leiter, son of former two-time Yankee Al Leiter. Jack’s was the name being bandied about leading up to the draft day. He was named the top New Jersey high school baseball player by a number of media outlets.
Due to his strong commitment to Vanderbilt University, Leiter didn’t hear his name called until the Yankees took him as a long shot in the 20th round.
But it only took until the 30th pick, for the Yankees to catch “The Fox” (Volpe in Italian) when they selected the Green Wave’s shortstop, Volpe. The previously highest pick from Delbarton was at no. 150.
Like his much more well-known teammate, Volpe committed to Vandy this autumn, but his first-round status might change all that. Manager Aaron Boone called Volpe with the good news.
Volpe became the third first-round shortstop chosen by the Yankees in the last 10 years, joining Cito Culver (2010) and Kyle Holder (2015).
From MaxPreps: He (Volpe) showed much-improved power this year, batting .514 with seven home runs.
Volpe impressed for the USA Baseball 18U National team at the 2018 Pan Am games, with a .459/.556/.568 slash line in nine games.
Yankee Stadium and Lefties
Solid left-handed pitching is always a welcome addition to the team that calls Yankee Stadium home. With that, the Yankees selection of Sikkema as their second overall pick (and the draft’s 38th overall choice) comes as no surprise.
Sikkema, a junior, led the Mizzou Tigers with a 1.32 ERA and compiled a 0.96 WHIP. He also limited opponents to a 1.75 batting average and struck out 10.3 batters/9 IP. Sikkema also averaged better than a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
The selection may have been pre-destined. The native of DeWitt, Iowa stopped at Yankee Stadium after playing in last year’s Cape Cod League. “Just to say you’ve been there. It’s a historical place. It’s a nice stadium.”
Sikkema flew to Tampa on Wednesday for a physical and planned to sign for the allotted $1.9M.
With their second-round selection, the Yankees took another Tiger, this time a product of LSU, infielder Josh Smith. The junior played both middle infield positions and hit .346 with 15 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs. He also knocked in 41 runs, scored 68 runs, and swiped 20 bases.
A product of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Smith made the All-SEC team as well as the all-tournament team for the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
Among his other highlights this season was a 13-game hitting streak and a 24-game on-base streak.
DiMaggio, Mantle, Williams, Sanford?
The Yankees’ draft included a number of outfielders over the last five years. Many of those players have moved on to join the Yankees in the Major Leagues or became pieces that helped acquire talent from other teams.
We don’t know where he’ll end up, but Western Kentucky centerfielder Jake Sanford was selected with the Yankees third-round draft choice.
Sanford might not have received some of the press that earlier picks received but perhaps he should have. He became the first player in Conference USA history to capture the conference triple crown after he hit .398-22-66.
In addition, Sanford slugged .805, posted a 1.288 OPS and scored 65 runs. Back in March, he blasted three home runs in and drove in eight runs in a single game.
Though he just finished his junior year, this was the first year at Western Kentucky for Sanford, who played two years of junior college ball at McCook CC in Nebraska.
His accomplishments this year included being named to the 2019 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper First Team All-American squad.
East Meets West
The Yankees selected another Jake with their fourth-round pick. This time it was pitcher Jake Agnos, a left-hander for East Carolina University.
The 5’11” junior started 16 games, finishing 11-2, 2.02. Opponents hit just .193 against him and Agnos struck out 140 batters in 98 innings (12.8 K/9 IP). The Virginia native was chosen as a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.
Yankees’ Draft Picks rds 5 – 40
With the Yankees choosing hitters with three of their four selections, they then reeled off five straight pitchers, beginning with Agnos. The next four chosen were:
Ken Waldichuck, St. Mary’s College of California
Sam Wesneski, Sam Houston St. U (TX)
Nick Pacioreck, Northwestern U (IL)
Zach Greene, U of South Alabama
The Yankees finished off the first 10 rounds of the draft by selecting 1st baseman Spencer Henson (Oral Roberts U/OK) and pitcher Mitch Spence (U of South Carolina-Aiken).
The Yankees remaining picks:
Oliver Dunn 2B, U of Utah
Ryan Anderson P, U of Nevada
Nelson Alvarez, U of South Florida
Kevin Milam 2B, St. Mary’s College of California
Edgar Barclay P, Cal State-Bakersfield U
Shane McNeely P, Hope International U (CA)
Pat DeMarco CF, Vanderbilt U (TN)
Evan Voliva P, East Carolina U
Chad Bell 3B, U of Louisiana-Monroe
Jack Leiter P, Delbarton School
Zach Kohn P, U of Central Michigan
Gerrit van Zijll P, Alvin Community College (TX)
Matt Minnick P, Mercyhurst College (PA)
Jake Pries LF, UCLA
Luke Brown CF, John A. Logan College (IL.)
Ryan Brown P, South Salem High School (OR)
Kyle McDonald 1B, Arkansas State
Michael Giacone P, North Greenville University (SC)
Chase Illig C, U of West Virginia
Zachary Maxwell P, North Paulding High School (GA)
Chad Knight C, Staples High School (CT)
Javier Reynoso, SS, Colegio Angel Davis High School (Puerto Rico)
Nathaniel Espelin P, The Winchendon School (MA)
Montana Semmel P, Westhill High School (CT)
Bryce Jarvis P, Duke U
Dontae Mitchell CF, Lakewood High School (FL)
Jake Farrell 1B, Northeastern U (MA)
Alex Garbrick P, Morehead State (KY)
It might take one year or many years to find out whether these fortunate players turn into an Aaron Judge or a Brien Taylor. Stay tuned.