Friday, January 22, 2016

First 2015 Draft Pick to Reach MLB

The New York Yankees have not had the greatest draft history under current GM Brian Cashman. To put it into a word or two the Yankees draft status has actually sucked since the farm system produced the Core Four but times seem to be a changing down on the farm. The Yankees are actually, and finally, producing MLB ready and caliber talent out of their farm system through international free agent signings and the draft and actually saw their top overall draft pick from 2014, Jacob Lindgren, make his Major League debut in 2015. The Yankees drafted 16th overall in the 2015 MLB Draft taking James Kaprielian in a draft where the team went very heavy on college players to mix with the batch of 16-18 year old IFA’s they signed, which one will pull a Jacob Lindgren and reach the Major Leagues first? Is it Kaprielian or the team’s other first round pick Kyle Holder? Maybe a wild card?

Predicting what will happen in the minor leagues is like predicting the winning powerball number when the jackpot gets up above a billion dollars. Everyone thinks they can do it but not many truly can with any consistency. Kaprielian looks like the most obvious choice because he was deemed Major League ready straight out of the draft but the Yankees have not been historically aggressive with their minor league players. For every Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain there were the others who stayed in the minor leagues for far too long thus reversing any development they had. Mix that in with the fact that the Yankees already have six or seven options for the starting rotation on the active roster and the fact that Kaprielian does not have a 40 man roster spot on a suddenly overcrowded roster means that Kap may not be the first time come up.

What about Holder, the pick that shocked the fans at the end of the first round and left many scratching their heads as to what Brian Cashman and his group of trusted associates were actually thinking there. Holder, a shortstop by trade, runs into the same familiar position that Kaprielian finds himself in. Holder plays a position that is seemingly blocked for a long, long time by Didi Gregorius. A switch to second base wouldn’t even help Holder at this point as Starlin Castro seems to have the lockdown on that spot for the next five seasons so maybe third base is in Holder’s future? If it is it will take Holder more than a season or two to learn the position while develop enough with the bat to justify his placement there. Remember Holder was taken as a raw prospect despite going to college because he recently switched to baseball full-time, although his defense is said to be ready and elite.

So if it’s not Kaprielian and it’s not Holder and it’s not a player like Jeff Degano who simply doesn’t have the professional innings to make a serious run at the big leagues then who? Well I have two options and it seems like both will be in a sprint towards the Bronx as soon as this summer if all goes according to plan. Chance Adams was drafted in the 5th round by the Yankees while Will Carter was drafted in the 14th round for the Yankees and are both right-handed pitchers. Adams is 21-years old and has already dominated at three levels of the minor leagues for New York starting in Staten Island and finishing the season with five games with the High-A Tampa Yankees. If Adams continues his dominance he could be at Double-A Trenton within a month or so and Triple-A by the All Star Game.

Adams posted a combined 35.1 innings in his debut season with 45 strikeouts, nine walks, a 1.78 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and a 32.2 K/9 ratio as his 95-96 MPH fastball and sharp slider were on full display. Meanwhile Carter was drafted as a starting pitcher out of the University of Alabama and immediately converted into a relief pitcher after struggling with the Crimson Tide. Carter started with the Staten Island Yankees after being drafted last season and posted a 2.04 ERA in 17.2 innings with 13 K’s and nine walks. Carter struggles with his command but showcases a fastball that touches 97 MPH and above as a relief pitcher which generates a ton of ground balls. Carter induces almost 60% of his outs on the ground which can help when he is in the zone and not walking batters. Control will always be Carter’s biggest issue though and until or unless he fixes that he will always be one step behind Adams in the race for the Major Leagues in 2016.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)