Sunday, June 6, 2010

MLB Draft: Reviewing Pinstripe Picks of Years Past

June 6, 2010

By Anthony Tripicchio

The NBA Draft is always a much anticipated extravaganza while the NFL's selections are so heavily scrutinized they've been thrust into prime time.

On the eve of the 2010 MLB Draft, baseball has yet to experience similar success with its entry draft and there are plenty of reasons that explain why.

First, there's a sense of immediacy to the NBA and NFL drafts, respectively. The high picks, in most cases (sans a few quarterbacks), will play right away.

In contrast, only two out of 32 players selected in the first round of last year's MLB Draft are currently on major league rosters. The impending call-up of Stephen Strasburg will make three.

In our culture of instant gratification, people simply don't want to wait three or four years for players to develop.

Unless your name is Mike Leake, you have a far greater development curve in baseball than the other two major sports. Obscurity is the name of the game in the minors as many fans are unaware of the state of affairs with their major league team's affiliates or they don't find those events relevant.

Secondly, the vast sea of players selected in the MLB Draft is enormous in comparison. The NBA Draft is a terse two rounds and the NFL features a seven-round event. MLB holds a marathon 50-round happening.

Observers are devoid of the necessary attention spans to see it to a conclusion. Further compounding matters is the fact that most of the players procured are unknowns.

High school baseball's popularity pales in comparison to that of its basketball and football counterparts; just check the bleachers near you for verification. Exasperating the issue, the dearth of interest in amateur baseball continues at the college level, where football and basketball rake in significantly more revenue.

Television exposure launches power conference players in football and basketball into the public consciousness, whereas the major prospects in baseball never enjoy the same publicity except on a smaller scale in the College World Series.


Since we won't be able to gauge the quality of the Yankees' 2010 draft for at least four years, we will instead evaluate years where we have enough evidence to comment on the results.

Due to the mammoth amount of players selected, the focus will be the top 10 rounds and we'll specify if someone of note was uncovered later.

2006 Picks:

1. Ian Kennedy (21st overall), RHP, USC
2. Joba Chamberlain (44th), RHP, Nebraska

3. Zach McAllister (104th), RHP, Valley Central HS, Illinois

4. Colin Curtis (134th), OF, Arizona State

5. George Kontos (164th), RHP, Northwestern

6. Mitchell Hilligoss (194th), SS, Purdue

7. Tim Norton (224th), RHP, UConn

8. Dellin Betances (254th), RHP, Grand Street Campus HS, NY

9. Mark Melancon (284th), RHP, Arizona

10. Casey Erickson (314th), RHP, Springfield College

13. Daniel McCutchen (404th), RHP, Oklahoma

17. David Robertson (524th), RHP, Alabama

20. Kevin Russo (614th), 2B, Baylor

47. Charles Smith (1416th), C, Second Baptist School, Texas

Analysis: As comical as people may find this assertion, the Yankees typically are at a disadvantage as far as positioning is concerned in the drafts. Because they are perennial World Series contenders, they often select late in rounds which makes it more difficult to find players. They use their deep pockets, however, to offset this problem when players drop to them due to signability issues.

2006 is a year the Yankees scored with their early picks. Besides Brett Anderson, who went 55th overall to the Diamondbacks, there are very few arguments to make. They may regret dealing Kennedy in the long run, but that's another story.

Chamberlain, although inconsistent at times, has shown flashes of brilliance and the Yankees are grooming him to be the heir to the throne when the immortal Mariano Rivera retires.

McAllister appears ticketed for a major league rotation as soon as near year. So far in Triple-A, McAllister is 5-2 with a 3.90 ERA. New York could have an opening with Javier Vazquez's contract expiring after this season.

Robertson and Russo are contributing in The Show with the Yankees right now and were good late finds.

Melancon, although struggling to stick with the big club, has passed challenges on every level in the minors.

Charles Smith is only listed because any team from New York should know to avoid a guy named Charles Smith. Go up strong!

This was a weak draft pool overall so the Yankees did well.

Draft Grade: A

2005 Picks:

1. Carl Henry (17th overall), SS, Putnam City HS, Oklahoma

2. James Cox (63rd), RHP, Texas-Austin

3. Brett Gardner (109th), CF, Col. of Charleston (SC)

4. Lance Pendleton (139th), RHP, Rice

5. Zachary Kroenke (169th), LHP, Nebraska

6. Douglas Fister (199th), RHP, Fresno St.

7. Garrett Patterson (220th), LHP, Oklahoma

8. Austin Jackson (259th), CF, Billy Ryan HS, Texas

9. James Cooper (289th), LF, Loyola Marymount

10. Kyle Anson (319th), 3B, Texas St.

Analysis: In a year of one of the most talent rich first rounds in the history of the MLB draft, the Yankees missed badly with Carl Henry. Colby Rasmus, Matt Garza, and Jacoby Ellsbury highlight a list of current stars that were on the board when New York opted for Henry.

The second round wasn't much better when the Yankees selected James Cox over Chase Headley, Kevin Slowey, Yunel Escobar, and a potential future ace in Jeremy Hellickson.

Finally, New York got a player in Brett Gardner in the third round and he was obviously an excellent pick.

It also nabbed Doug Fister, who is having a breakout year with Seattle, in the sixth but were unable to sign him.

Austin Jackson was tabbed in the eighth and was a centerpiece in the Curtis Granderson trade.

The first two rounds were awful, but the Yankees rebounded to choose three current major leaguers with their next six picks. Although that fact salvages some face, the Yankees turned up zilch in the later rounds.

This draft had far too much talent to justify the Yankees producing so little.

Draft Grade: C-

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