The first two days of the 2017 MLB Amateur Player Draft are now in the books. The Yankees drafted a total of ten players (one in each of the first ten rounds). In short, the Yankees drafted lots and lots of right-handed pitchers. Eight of the players drafted were righty throwers - including their first three picks.
Here then, is a quick summary of each player drafted.
1. Clarke Schmidt - Clark is a right-handed pitcher out of South Carolina. He was projected as a potential Top-15 pick, but his stock dropped when he blew out his elbow in April 2017 and required Tommy John surgery. The Yankees seem to still be high on him as he has a strong fastball that runs into the mid-90's. Along with the hard fastball, he has a plus slider and curve ball. He can also mix-in a change-up. If he can come back from the surgery, Schmidt projects as a possible #3 big league starter. It seems the Yankees took a risk on him knowing that could sign him a lower slot bonus which allowed them extra cash for their number two pick...
2. Matt Sauer - Matt is a right-handed high school pitcher who has committed to Arizona, but who the Yankees must feel they can sign with the added money saved from Schmidt. Sauer has at least some Yankee pedigree as he comes from Righetti High School. (If he becomes the pitcher Dave Righetti was, the Yankees will have a great pitcher on their hands!) Sauer has command of three pitches, a fastball that has hit speeds up to 97 mph along with a slider and a change-up. He hasn't needed to use the change-up very much against high school competition. Sauer was actually ranked #28 in the country according to MLB.com which is higher than Clarke Schmidt. at #49. He projects as a solid big league starter.
3. Trevor Stephan - Trevor is a junior at Arkansas who had been drafted last year in the 18th round by the Boston Red Sox. Stephan is also a right-handed thrower who also has three pitches. Like Schmidt and Sauer his best pitch is a fastball that sits in the mid-90's and has also topped out at 97. His secondary pitches (slider and change) are not as impressive and he projects to be a back-end starter, but many see him as a shut-down reliever who relies on the strength of his fastball.
4. Canaan Smith - A high schooler out of Texas who...is an outfielder. A slugging left-handed batter, he also played catcher and first base, but he projects as an outfielder. He committed to Arkansas. People compare him to Barry Bonds because he seems to be given many free passes to first base (he was walked 32 times in 24 games). Smith already looks like a Yankee as he wears pinstripes! (He should not be confused with Cannan Smith the Country singer.)
5. Glenn Otto - Another right-handed pitcher. Otto was a junior at Rice. Otto was a relief pitcher at Rice and served as their closer. In the Conference USA Tournament, he earned MVP honors after winning two games and notching a save. He suffered some shoulder soreness earlier in the year that may have hurt his rankings. Some reports have the Yankees looking to convert him to a starting pitcher because his breaking ball seems to be a strong part of his arsenal (that includes a 90+ mph fastball).
6. Dalton Lehnen - A left-handed pitcher! Lehnen came from Augustana College (Division II) in San Diego. His strength is his fastball that usually sits in the mid 90's. His ancillary pitches all need work. His projection is probably as a reliever, but he is a big strong kid and size can matter as players go through the minors.
7. Dalton Higgins - Another right-handed pitcher. (Spoiler alert, all of the remaining picks are right-handed pitchers.) Higgins pitched at Dallas Baptist University. His fastball sits in the lower-90's. (Chance Adams also came from Dallas Baptist so maybe the Yankees feel they have some special developmental techniques that will translate well to the pros.)
8. Kyle Zurak - (If he makes the Major Leagues as a Yankee, he'd end up as the second to last player on the Yankees all-time alphabetical roster. Paul Zuvella seems to have the Last Player on the Yankees Roster spot secure for another year, at least.) Kyle is originally from East Amherst, New York. He attended Radford College. A right-handed pitcher who also throws hard. His fastball tops out at 95. He projects as a relief pitcher.
9. Austin Gardner - Another righty. Austin pitched for the University of Texas, Arlington. His fastball tops out in the lower 90's. He's been a relief pitcher in college and projects as such should be make the bigs.
10. Chad Whitmer - Chad is a right-handed pitcher from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He was a starter in college whose repertoire is similar to the other pitchers the Yankees drafted this year. He seems to have good control which adds, at least a little, to his potential.
And there you have it. The first 10 players selected by the Yankees. It seemed the strategy this year was to stockpile pitching of the right-handed variety. With a strong young core at most positions in the Majors and high minors, while this wasn't a particularly exciting selection of overall talent, the Yankees might just be addressing, with quantity, an area where they need some depth going forward.