Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Final Review on 2016 Yankees Draft

The 2016 Minor League Baseball season is officially over. The championships have been won, the games have been played and the rookies that were drafted this June can now be evaluated. When the 2016 MLB First Year Players Draft was all said and done I thought the Yankees had initially done well with their picks of Blake Rutherford, Nick Solak and others but now with half a season under their belts will I change my mind? Not likely but let’s find out.

Blake Rutherford, and call me bias if you want to, was the biggest steal of the MLB Draft. Rutherford was once thought of as first overall talent and he did nothing to make anyone believe any different in 2016. Rutherford fell because of signability concerns and the Yankees got him signed. It’s as simple as that. Rutherford is already considered to be a Top 50 prospect in all of baseball by many lists published online including Minor League Ball’s John Sickels and for good reason.

I also really like the Nick Solak pick although some didn’t. Some thought he was simply signed and drafted because the Yankees could save money on their slot recommendation with him to give to Rutherford. While that is true that doesn’t mean Solak was an empty pick either by any means. Solak proved that in his pro debut in Staten Island posting a .321/.421/.421 with a 155 wRC+ and eight stolen bases, 30 walks and just 39 strikeouts. I also like the Dom Thompson-Williams pick because many experts had the outfielder going in the third round. The Yankees stole him in the fifth round and the Brett Gardner comparisons began almost immediately.

The one thing the Yankees needed more than anything though was pitching and they drafted a few key arms to look out for including closer/reliever Brooks Kriske. Kriske may be moved from closer to starter a la Chance Adams but either way his arm is strong and the talent is there. Taylor Widener is another arm I see a lot of potential in after reading up on him from his years at South Carolina. Widener finished the season with a 3-0 record, 0.47 ERA, 1.50 FIP and an insane 13.9 K/9 strikeout ratio in 38.1 innings in his professional debut. Widener, another reliever, will get his chance to showcase his 97 MPH fastball, slider and secondary pitches in the rotation once again a la Chance Adams in 2017 and could turn out to be a special arm for the Yankees in the future.

All this without mentioning High School pick Nolan Martinez. New York did well for themselves this draft and the final stat lines this season prove that. Now’s the hard part, development. 

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