The annual amateur draft starts today at 6 p.m. from the studios of the MLB Network in New Jersey. Only 111 picks will be made today. The remainder will be made on Wednesday and Thursday as 50 rounds are completed.
That means the Yankees will pick twice today — 29th and 76th.
The Yankees lost their first-round pick (No. 25) to the Angels as compensation for Mark Teixeira. They also forfeited their second-round pick (No. 73) for CC Sabathia and their third round pick (No. 104) for A.J. Burnett.
But the Yankees gained the No. 29 pick in the draft as compensation for failing to sign first-round pick Gerrit Cole last season and No. 76 for failing to sign 2007 second-round pick Scott Bittle.
But here’s the twist: That compensation lasts only a year. If whatever reason the Yankees fail to sign their first two picks, they disappear.
That would seem to indicate the Yankees need to select players they know for sure they can sign. Does that necessarily indicate a college player? It could. But the Yankees have the means to make a high-ceiling high school talent an offer he can’t turn down.
The Yankees have been linked to Mississippi HS shortstop David Renfroe and Texas HS lefty Matt Purke. Georgia HS outfielder Donovan Tate is a candidate to fall in the draft because of signability concerns. The Yankees might jump on him much like they did with Cole last season. But given their lack of leverage, such a move could be a risk.
ESPN’s Keith Law, who knows of what he speaks, has the Yankees taking Texas HS outfielder Slade Heathcott. My guess: U. of Florida RHP Billy Bullock or another college pitcher. But if they went for a power hitter to fill an organizational need, that would make a lot of sense.
The other change is that the Yankees are operating under a more stringent budget than in previous years. Odds are they will spend more than most — if not all — teams. But there isn’t a blank check.
The MLB draft is unpredictable, as is the process of trying to determine which high school and college players can make it to the majors. For every Joba Chamberlain, there is a C.J. Henry or Eric Duncan. So enjoy the draft but don’t get too wrapped up in it. The results won’t be known for another two or three years.
Hopefully the Yankees will find a way to make their first-round pick available to the media today. If so, we’ll get you a full report later on.