One of our blog readers, as it turns out, is Wyndam Makowsky. He’s a New York City native and a senior sports writer for the Stanford Daily who covers baseball.
Here’s an interview we conducted with him via e-mail this afternoon:
Bleich was not projected to go this high. Why do you think he did? This was a bit of a reach, but the Yankees are desperate for lefty talent. It is certainly a need pick. Now, why Bleich instead of someone else? He has a nice, three pitch arsenal: his curveball and change up both have good movement. Additionally, his velocity has gotten better over the course of his career. He consistently throws his fastball in the low 90s whereas previously, he would stay in the high 80s and only scrape 90. Lefties with good fastballs and two put-out pitches aren’t easy to come by, and so while the Yankees may have extended themselves a bit here, it isn’t as much of an odd selection as it initially appears.
What are his strengths? Bleich is very smart and knows how to alternate well between his pitches. He is fairly calm on the mound, and has shown an ability to get out of bad situations. His biggest weakness was always maintaining control, but that has become less of an issue over the past year. Since returning from injury late last month, he has been lights-out.
Can you compare him to anybody in the majors now? A nice comparison is Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies. They have a similar repertoire, although Hamels has a better change up. Both have battled through injuries. Hamels, though, is supposed to be the Phillies’ fixture at the top of the rotation. I doubt that’s where Bleich projects. I see him as either a fourth or fifth starter, or as a top left-handed reliever. He dabbled in relief pitching when he came back from injury, and did very well out of the bullpen.
Did this pick come as a surprise to you and the Stanford coaches? I was surprised both as a Stanford beat writer and a Yankees fan. I thought they would pounce on Tim Melville. I have yet to speak to Coach Mark Marquess and the rest of his staff about this choice, but it seemed like the consensus was that after Jason Castro went in the first round, the next Stanford players off the board would be staff ace Erik Davis and center fielder Sean Ratliff — maybe even former Yankees draftee Drew Storen. Even they weren’t projected to go until the second round, at best. So while the Cardinal may be pleasantly surprised with Bleich’s selection, they are probably just that — surprised.
Good stuff. Thanks for the information, Wyndam.