Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 MLB Draft Day One: Yankees go to college

The New York Yankees held their highest pick in a draft since 1993, the No. 16 selection, and went back to college for James Kaprielian a big right-hander from UCLA. The club stayed in the collegiate ranks with the No. 30 pick, University of San Diego shortstop Kyle Holder and completed the trifecta taking Indiana State's Jeff Degano with pick No. 57.

I wrote for SNY Monday that I would not be surprised if the Yankees took pitching – an area of need in my view – and would peg college standouts to fill the system. Based on what I had seen in expert mock drafts, I correctly guessed they’d tab Kaprielian if they decided to go the pitching route.

Kaprielian, with his four-pitch repertoire, might take the Acela Express to New York, much like Jacob Lindgren rode after being selected with pick No. 55 in last season’s draft. It would not be entirely shocking if Kaprielian was on a big league mound in 2016. It will be interesting and telling to see where he begins his professional career – Low-A Charleston? Or lower, with Class-A Short Season Staten Island?

The Yankees’ second pick of the night in Holder seemed like a stretch with numerous higher upside names still on the board. The Yankees surely love defense up the middle, but Holder’s lack of hitting potential is concerning. The Yanks must be banking on the fact that Holder has just recently completely devoted his time to baseball (he was recruited to play basketball as well) and that his bat can fulfill average hitter expectations. The Yankees’ system is littered with shortstops so maybe this is a depth move, with someone on the trading block in the future.

In Degano, the Yankees grabbed another college pitcher who has a chance to be on an accelerated path depending on their motives. It might not be as fast as Kaprielian, unless the Yanks decide to covert Degano into a reliever. His projections tend to reflect a back of the rotation starter, so there is some likelihood that the club utilizes him as a lefty out of the bullpen if the transition from college to the pros as a starter is stalled.

The Yankees seemed to stick with a game plan which coveted experienced players; a starter with the ability to rapidly ascend the organizational ladder, a shortstop who they must feel has untapped potential, and finally a left-handed pitcher who might be able to fill multiple roles as he progresses.

Will the Yankees look for more experienced hurlers or begin to take some speculative high-ceiling risks in Tuesday’s rounds? The draft begins at 1:00 p.m this afternoon and the Yankees' next pick is at No. 92.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.