Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Meet the Undrafted Free Agents That Became the Newest Yankees

The MLB First Year Player's Draft was reduced from 40 rounds to just five rounds here in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, severely limiting the field and the number of amateur players that would begin their professional careers. Those undrafted in the five rounds this year were eligible to be signed by any team for no more than $20,000. Every team is expected to pick up multiple undrafted free agents this summer, especially now that the 2020 season is now a reality, and the Yankees are no exception to that. The team has already signed Elijah Dunhman, whom we met earlier on the blog, but there were a few more names that have inked Yankees contracts since the Draft... so let's meet them all too.

Carson Coleman (@Carson_Coleman) is a RHP out of the University of Kentucky. Coleman is a right-handed relief pitcher that may be on the fast track to the Bronx as early as 2020, or mid-2021. I won't count out 2020 because this year has been insane. Weirder things have happened. Coleman has three years under his belt with the Wildcats and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 33rd round of the 2019 Draft, but did not sign. In a pandemic-shortened 2020 season Coleman posted a 3.18 ERA in just six games, 5.2 IP, while striking out 13 batters (20.6 K/9) and walking just one on the way to a 0.882 WHIP. Coleman never started a game for the University of Kentucky, nor the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League, so the right-hander is a pure reliever at this point. Not to say that the Yankees won't attempt to convert him into a starter (Chance Adams and others come to mind as recent examples of this), but it appears for now Coleman may be a part of the Scranton Shuttle sooner rather than later.

Ocean Gabonia is a right-handed pitcher out of Everett Community College. Gabonia is looking to be the next hidden gem that we are all talking about in 5-10 years that found his way to the Major League Level after going relatively unnoticed prior to his drafting. I don't mean that as an insult, Gabonia himself said that he was "surprised" by the signing, but also stated that he is ready to "chase his dreams" with the New York Yankees. Gabonia is not yet 19-years old and has a ways to go in terms of physical development, currently standing 6'1" but just 175 lbs. Gabonia is limited in experience as he is yet to pitch in the Cape Cod League or an equivalent. Gabonia was throwing just 84 MPH fastballs in 2019, but improved his velocity to 88-89 MPH while topping out at 91 MPH at a preseason Northwest Athletic Conference showcase last year. The Yankees like Gabonia's "live and loose arm," his mechanics, his makeup on the mound, and his passion and heart for the game while he is on the mound. The next Mariano Rivera? Unlikely, but wow this could be a great story for Gabonia and the Yankees alike.

Trevor Holloway is a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Central Florida. In two seasons, including the shortened 2020 season, Holloway has started a total of 10 games for UCF posting a combined 5-1 record in 49.1 innings pitched. Holloway posted a 2.01 ERA in 2019 and a 1.19 ERA in 2020 while striking out 66 and walking only 21 batters. Holloway is an advanced metrics driven pitcher that possesses a 90-92 MPH fastball that matches up well with his slider and curveball. Holloway is certainly a project for the Yankees and their minor league development team, but given the current state of the game and the draft it almost makes no sense not to take a flyer on a guy like Holloway. While he has had pitching arm injuries in the past, for example a biceps injury ended his 2019 season prematurely, for $20K you take the chance of finding lightning in a bottle. I, for one, am rooting for Mr. Holloway in pinstripes.

Connor Pellerin was also signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane University. Pellerin is the 5th college right-handed pitcher that the Yankees signed after the draft, but Connor may throw the hardest out of them all. Pellerin spent the bulk of his time at Tulane as a relief pitcher, meaning a fast track to the Bronx could be in the works. Pellerin fits the "mold" that the Yankees like when drafting or signing a pitcher. The RHP is an intimidating presence on the mound standing 6'4" and weighing in at 210 pounds. Pellerin will be 21-years old next month and is coming off an impressive 2.25 ERA in six relief appearances during the shortened 2020 season. Pellerin compiled a 4-4 record with a 5.67 ERA over 55 collegiate appearances (two of them as a starter) allowing 54 hits and 75 walks (maybe his biggest gating issue en route to the Bronx) and 94 strikeouts in 74.2 innings pitched. Pellerin has a mid-90's fastball that can touch as high as 97 MPH with a solid, average slider. Pellerin's lack of a third pitch will likely keep him in the bullpen, as well as his lack of control. Control can be worked on and fixed.

The final UDFA the Yankees signed that we will talk about on this post is a right-handed pitcher out of BYU that goes by the name of Jarod Lessar. Lessar has pitched for two seasons with BYU after losing his freshman season to Rheumatoid arthritis. As a Sophomore, Lessar was throwing 92-MPH fastballs which offered him the chance to play for the Cougars professionally. Lessar posted a 3-2 record with a 4.44 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 48.2 IP as a Junior. As a Senior, Lessar appeared in five games, four starts, with 15 strikeouts in 16.1 IP in a shortened season. Lessar grew up a Yankees fan and even wore the #13, the number of his favorite player Alex Rodriguez. Lessar, the starting pitcher, possesses a low-90's cutting fastball to go with a slider, a curveball and a changeup as well. As a reliever, though, Lessar drops his repertoire to just a fastball and a slider with his heater touching 94-95 MPH. Lessar played football, not baseball, for much of his High School career and lost his freshman year, as we stated earlier, so his development is still in the "raw" stage. Don't expect Lessar to fly through the ranks, but that doesn't mean he won't get to the Bronx. His makeup is there and so is the stuff, he just has to stay healthy and put the work in.

To all the recent draftees and UDFA signings, welcome to the family. 

Meet a Prospect: Elijah Dunham

The New York Yankees signed an undrafted outfielder out of the University of Indiana, and his name is Elijah Dunham. Let's meet him.

Dunham was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40th round of the 2019 MLB First Year Player's Draft, but did not sign with the club. Dunham was able to break into the Top 250 rankings by ESPN's Kiley McDaniels before the 2020 MLB Draft that was reduced from 40 round to just five, but was not drafted. The Yankees scooped him up for the $20K signing bonus that all undrafted players must sign for.

Dunham is a left-handed batting and throwing outfielder from Evansville, Indiana. Dunham is listed at 6'0" and weighs in at 213 lbs. Dunham is also listed as a first base option, playing 18 games there during his amateur career. It appears, though, that Dunham's future is as a corner outfielder due to his size and balanced offensive profile.

In a shortened 2020 season, Dunham put up a .390/.493/.559/1.052 quad slash in 15 games (71 PA) with one home run and 11 RBI. Dunham struck out just eight times and drew 11 walks with seven doubles.

Here is a statement from Dunham, linked off his Twitter account:

“After much consideration of what is best for my baseball career I have decided to sign a deal with the New York Yankees.  It’s time for me to take my opportunity and bet on myself.  I’m extremely confident in my abilities and know the Yankees can continue to develop them at the highest level.  I first want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with this chance.  Also a huge thanks to Coach Mercer, the unbelievable staff, and teammates at IU who have helped me come to this point.  I don’t know where I’d be without them.  It’s time to get to work.”

Dunham joins other undrafted players the Yankees have signed since the Draft:

Carson Coleman, a RHP from Kentucky
Ocean Gabonia, a RHP from Everett Community College
Trevor Holloway, a RHP from Central Florida
Jarod Lessar, a RHP from BYU

What You Need To Know About Baseball in 2020

Major League Baseball will be back for the 2020 season, here is what you need to know:

- Spring Training v2 starts on July 1st with players reporting. Actual camp begins July 3rd. Players have to arrive two days early for coronavirus testing. Spring training will take place in team's home cities.

- The regular season starts on July 23rd or 24th.

- No expanded playoffs.

- Players will be able to opt out of the 2020 season and receive full service time if the players are at high risk of contracting the coronavirus, or if they live with a spouse who is at a high-risk, or pregnant).

- 60 game season including 40 games within your own division, and 20 games against your geographical counterpart in the other league. AL East plays NL East, etc.

- Universal DH for both leagues will be implemented.

- 10-Day DL for all players, and there will be a COVID-19 DL with no specific timetable for return. 60-Day DL has been cut to 45 days for severely injured players.

- Trade deadline day is August 31st.

- Rosters are 60 players deep and are expected to be finalized by Sunday, June 28th.

- Each team can carry three "taxicab players" with them at all times, but one must be a catcher.

- Teams can invite all 60 players to spring camps, but can send up to 20 to "alternate sites."

- Players have to be added to the MLB roster by 9/15 to be eligible for the postseason.

- The league is considering having two full "emergency teams" that will be paid $400 a week as an emergency pool. Teams will have to pay the Nashville team to sign any of their players.

- Starting in the 10th inning, every team will start with a runner on 2nd base for extra innings. This would only apply for the regular season and not for the postseason.

More to come as it gets released, but baseball IS happening in 2020. It's still Cole World, and it's still the Yankees World Series to lose.

The World Series is Back On in New York!

Welcome back to the blog!

As I am sure most everyone has heard, baseball is back for the 2020 season. Despite the concerns surrounding the country right now, including COVID-19, Major League Baseball and the Players Union have agreed to a 60-game season here in 2020. The 2020 season will be unlike any other that any of have seen during our lifetime, and not just because the number of games being played is significantly less than the usual 162-game marathon. The universal DH will be making its way to the league, giving the National League their first real taste of the designated hitter. Also, there will be a schedule change that will include 40 games within your own division and 20 games against teams in the NL that share your divisional alignment (The AL East plays the NL East, the AL Central plays the NL Central, the AL West plays the NL West). The Yankees will play 10 games each against the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays while they will also play 4 games each against the Atlanta Braves, the New York Mets, the Miami Marlins, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals.

There will be no expanded playoffs, and whether anyone likes it or not... the World Series WILL count for 2020. It's in the record books, deal with it. No asterisk. Wouldn't be an asterisk if the Red Sox, Astros, or Mets won it, so there won't be one when the Yankees win it. Deal with it and save your tears.

I am so excited to be back, ladies and gents. The game needed this, in some opinions the country needed this, and I really, REALLY needed this.