Thursday, May 21, 2015

ICYMI: Where Are They Now? Yankees Unsigned Draftees

by: Ben Embry, (guest contributor from The Bronx Empire)

The MLB Draft is just three weeks away and I'll have a couple articles as a preview, this being the first. I'll update my compilation rankings for one final time a day or two prior to the event.  Then following the draft I'll have an article reviewing the picks.

One interesting wrinkle of the draft is when players decide not to sign. Most of the time they're HS'ers who would rather go to college than straight to the pros.  I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the past few drafts and check in with 9 kids that declined to sign with New York over the past 3 yrs.  Some of the kids turned out well, and some not so much...

Garrett Cave (2014 Draft -  17th Round - pick 512)
Cave took a big step forward in the Spring prior to the draft, pushing his velo from the high 80s touching 90 the yr before to low 90s touching 95.  Cave was very projectable with a lean 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame and  a loose arm and athleticism. He flashed average curveballs and changes.  He was rated the 151st best prospect on my comp board and 103 best prospect by Baseball America.
Cave has struggled this year for FIU, with a 5.26 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, and only 7.7 K/9 in 25 2/3 IP. He's started 4 games for the team this Spring. Hopefully he can sharpen his game and raise his profile over the summer in a summer league.


Will Toffey  (2014 Draft - 23rd Round - pick 692)
Toffey was from Salisbury Prep, the same post-grad school as Yankees 3rd rd pick Austin DeCarr.  In addition to baseball, he was one of the top hockey players in the northeast.  Will played SS as a 19 year old at Salisbury but profiled better as a third baseman with an above-average arm that that flashes plus. He projected to have an average hit tool with at least average power.  Being a Vanderbilt commit he was considered a tough sign.

Toffey played in the Futures League last summer where he was rated the number 1 prospect by Baseball America. He drew rave reviews from scouts for his hitting. He's been a standout hitter for the Commodores this Spring, hitting .305/.385/.426 with 3 HR in 190 AB. I expect Toffey to be high on draft boards when he becomes eligible again.

Mariano Rivera, Jr.  (2014 Draft -  29th Round - pick 872)
Anybody here remember this kid's Dad? I sort of recollect this unhittable righty out of the pen that dominated hitters with one pitch and broke a bunch of records and collected a whole bunch of World Series rings.  Apparently the greatest closer of all time has some pretty consistent genes because his son Mariano Jr is more than just a kid with a famous Dad; he can pitch. Junior a
ppeared in 13 games last year, making 12 starts. He finished the season with a team leading 50 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched. His selection in the 29th rd last year was viewed as a favor to his Dad. He told the New York Post "In my mind I wanted to be a top 10-rounder,” Rivera III recalled. “I was set on coming back, no matter what. I wanted to prove to myself I can do this, I can do more. I wanted to see how far I could push myself and what I really could do with the talent and skills I have now."

Rivera has been Iona's ace this season; the hard-throwing righty has a 2.53 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 11.6 K/9 in 78 1/3 innings. Each start this spring has drawn between 10 and 15 major league scouts, cross-checkers and executives among them. He was recently ranked 95th on Keith Law's top 100.

Cal Quantrill (2013 Draft - 26th Round - pick 794)
The son of former All-Star pitcher Paul Quantrill, Cal had the kind of makeup and advanced understanding of the game expected of a Major Leaguer’s son. Like his father, Quantrill was a sinker baller and had a nice change-up. He also throws a curveball and a slider. Of his secondary pitches, his changeup is the best and has the potential to become a plus offering.  Cal received a lot of attention playing for the Canadian junior national team.  He was ranked 109th on my final comp two years ago and it was obvious when he lasted until the 26th round he would be practically impossible to sign due to his commitment to Stanford.

Cal played a big role on the Stanford squad his freshman year.  He started on opening day, making him the first Cardinal freshman pitcher to do so since Mike Mussina in 1988.  Though the season started rough with a 10-3 loss to Rice, he finished the season with 6 wins and a 2.65 ERA, holding his opponents to a .215 BA.
Cal played 3 games this year before elbow problems led to Tommy John surgery in March.  There had been buzz about Quantrill being a 1-1 candidate prior to the surgery; Kiley McDaniel recently ranked Quantrill the 12th best player in the 2016 draft.
Josh Pettitte (2013 Draft - 37th Round - pick 1124)
It may be unfair to Josh, but the first thing that has to be said about him is he the son of Yankee legend Andy Pettitte.  Josh deserves acclaim on his own merit, having thrown 2 no-hitters and broke the school ERA and strikeout records his senior year at Deer Park HS in Texas.  He was actually drafted on the day his father won his 250th game.  Andy recounted to reporters that Josh was in the clubhouse and told him he had been drafted by the team after the game.  Pretty cool.

Josh intended to keep his commitment to Baylor all along and was never a serious consideration for signing.  He never appeared in a game for the Bears his freshman season and underwent Tommy John surgery.  In April 2014 news broke that he would transfer from the school. Eventually he ended up at Rice. Josh has not fared well this season, as evidenced by his 6.16 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 19 IP. His K/9 is nice though at 12.78.

Cody Thomas (2013 Draft - 30th Round - pick 914)
Cody was a 2 sport star at Colleyville Heritage HS near Dallas, TX, being highly recruited both as a QB in football and OF in baseball.  He threw for over 4,100 and 51 TDs for the football team as a senior at Colleyville then hit .482 with 15 HRs for the baseball team.  That's a pretty amazing year. and ESPN both had Thomas rated a 4 star QB prospect.  Baseball America ranked him the 165 best baseball prospect headed into the draft.

Cody redshirted on the football team his first year on campus and had a pretty disappointing year on the diamond, having just 1 hit in 12 AB.  In his redshirt freshman season for the football team, he started 3 games. He is not presently on the baseball team roster.  It appears his baseball career, at least for now, is over.

Ty Moore (2012 Draft - 25th Round - pick 787)
Ty Moore was an OF from baseball (and sports in general, actually) powerhouse, Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California.  Ty was the 246th ranked prospect in the Baseball America Top 500.  He was a USA Today All-American and named California's State Player of the Year, which is impressive considering Lucas Giolito and Max Fried were also from Cali.  Ty was known going into the draft as a tough sign, explaining why he lasted until the 25th round and the 787th pick.  The OF was known for having a solid bat but lacking in speed.

He followed through on his UCLA commitment and appeared in 27 games for the Bruins his freshman, starting in 19.  Ty struggled at the plate, going 15 for 72, (.208 BA), with .292 OBP and .293 SLG, (.585 OPS).  The Bruins went 40-17 during the season and won the NCAA championship.

He followed that year up with a better year statistically but much less successful in the win column. Ty hit .294/.375/.417 with 2 HRs in 211 ABs.  The team won just 25 games and did not get a chance to defend their crown. His junior season has fared MUCH better with a .353/.428/.484 slash line with 4 HR in 190 ABs batting at the top of the lineup for the Bruins.  UCLA is currently ranked 2nd in the country by BA. I recently asked ESPN scout Eric Longenhagen whether he thought Ty was a top 5 rd talent and he said no.

DJ Stewart (2012 Draft - 28th Round - pick 877)
DJ Stewart was another high school OF taken in the late rounds by the Yankees.  Like Moore, DJ was known to have a strong commitment to go to school, with DJ committed to attend Florida State.  He was a 2 sport star, (baseball and football), at the Bolles High School in Jacksonville, Florida.  He had a stalky, solid frame standing at 6' and weighing in at 215 lbs, which sounded more like a fullback body than an OF body.  That being said, he was known to be a good athlete with a strong arm and a good power bat.

At Florida State, DJ started in 56 of the 60 games the Seminoles played his freshman year.  Florida State played extremely well, finishing the season in the top 10.  On top of hosting a regional, the team was the number 7 national seed.  DJ had a much stronger year than Moore statistically their first college season; he hit .356/.458/.543 with 4 home runs and 58 RBIs.  He was always on base!

DJ followed that up with a .351/.472/.557 slash line with 7 HR in 94 ABs his Sophomore year.  Florida State had an excellent year and was one of the favorites to win the national championship but the team was unable to make it out of the Regionals. So far this season DJ has hit .326/.520/.593 with 12 HRs in 172 AB. He's played in all but 1 game for the 9th ranked Seminoles.  

His below average defense makes him a LF profile.  His draft stock is reliant solely on his bat, which is good with above average hit and power tools.  He ranked 28th on my latest compilation rankings.

Vincent Jackson (2012 Draft - 23rd Round - pick 727)
Vincent Jackson is the third OF from the 2012 draft for us to look at, and going into that draft he was considered by Baseball America to be the best of the three.  BA ranked Vincent the number 174 prospect for the draft, which is a pretty strong ranking.  Vincent stood 6'4" and weighed 190 lbs going into the draft.  The Georgia OF had crazy athleticism with the possibility of sticking in CF, but long term probably RF, (his strong arm making him a RF instead of a LF).

Vincent performed ok for UT his freshman year; he hit .290/.317/.426 with 2 HRs and 15 RBIs in 155 AB and 43 games, (he started 38 games).  He was out on the SEC All-Freshman team that year.  He followed that up with a down year statistically, hitting .235/.311/.325 with 2 HR in 154 AB.

Jackson has appeared in 23 games for the Vols in 2015, hitting .321 with three doubles, one triple, seven RBIs and 12 runs scored. I asked Kiley McDaniel in February if Jackson was a top 2-3 rd talent and he said just south of that. He was listed as a "Big Tools, Questions about Performance" guy that could go no earlier than the 3rd on his latest rankings.

Well that'll do it for today. It'll be interesting to see if any of the 4 players listed above who are draft eligible, (Rivera, Moore, Stewart, Jackson), are selected by the Yankees again. It happened last year when they took Jordan Foley for the second time. Considering I've been following their college careers from the start I've grown fond of them all and would like to see them all end up as Yankees. I'd expect Stewart to be a late 1st or 2nd rd pick, Rivera to go in rounds 3-5, Jackson 4-7, and Moore 6-10. Remember I'll have one more compilation ranking just prior to the draft.  Until then, have a good day!

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