Thursday, June 08, 2006


I'm no expert on the Rule IV draft. I know my way around the Yankee farm system, but I didn't so much as glance at the catalog of players available to Brian Cashman over nthe past two days. Mt information is entirely second hand. If you want some expert advice, I should direct you to head over to In George We Trust, RLYW, or your favorite Yankee forum.

1. Ian Kennedy - Kennedy is by all accounts a good, safe pick. He's a 89-92 mph pitcher who hits his spots and uses his secondary pitches (including a very good curve) to get hitters out. He likes his strikeouts. He pitched three years for USC, in the toughest conference in college baseball. He should quickly move throughout the Yankee minor league system. It is really up to the Yankees where he begins. It wouldn't be shocking if they sent him right to Tampa.

2. Joba Chamberlain - The consensus is that Joba has top-10 stuff in the draft, but fell to our second pick due to injury concerns. Turns out, this would be a common theme in the draft. Joba doesn't have the pedigree that Kennedy does, but he has plenty of upside. Chamberlain is a little more raw than Kennedy, so he will most likely ee some short season action.

3. Zach McCallister - Zach is a hard throwing polished high school right hander. Fabian at RLYW calls him "a poor man's Phil Hughes". He throws hard with good control, but will need to work on another seconary pitch to complement his slider. He's young enough that he will have plenty of time to find some sort of off speed pitch. He will be the top pitcher for the reigning champion GCL Yankees.

4. Colin Curtis - Curtis is an outfielder from the University of Arizona. Of the top-10 picks, this is the easiest one to take apart. Curtis has been described as an average bat with average range in centerfield. He will be unlikely to have the range to hold down centerfield nor the bat to hold a corner position. He hits for moderate power, with moderate discipline, and with decent contact rates. Sounds to be like even if he pans out, he'll at best be a fourth outfielder. He'll enjoy the fine weather down in the Gulf Coast League.

5. George Kontos - There is not a whole lot of information on Kontos. He had two very poor (over 5 ERA) years for Northwestern University prior to 2006. I am having trouble finding his 2006 statistics, but he did finish 2nd in the Big Ten in strikeouts. Sounds like a project. He'll be the top pitcher for Staten Island most likely.

6. Mitchell Hillgross - He's a shortstop out of Purdue. He posted decent numbers with Purdue, including a .404 batting average in 2005. He might be moved from shortstop though, due to poor hands. Catcher remains a possibility, in which case his bat could be useful. If he ends up in the outfield, his bat will not be sufficient. He'll man the middle infield on Staten Island.

7. Tim Norton - He's a right handed pitcher with lots of strikeouts and good numbers (2.04 ERA), in medium division. He has good stuff and has had lots of success, but pitching in the Big East didn't turn a lot of eyes. He might just be a little underrated. He'll head to SI.

8. Dellin Betances - Huge right handed pitcher from the Bronx. He is one of the few projectable frames without reported mechanical problems. He throws hard pitches for strikes. He fell to the 8th round because of signability issues. Betances wants 1st round money, as he was considered top-25 talent heading into the draft. Good thing we have Big Stein to sign this future Big Unit. Betances will head to the GCL. Could be a steal ala Austin Jackson.

9. Mark Melacon - Melacon was one of the top relievers coming into the draft. But he's no uber-prospect. His numbers are OK, including a decent jump in strikeouts (52 K in 39 innings) in his final year in Arizona. He might be 3rd round talent, but slipped to 9th due to injury concerns (anyone sense a theme yet?).

There were really no notables after Melacon in the Yankee's draft. They picked up half the college righties in the country, and will add to their organizational strength (starting pitching) in the minor leagues. 3 or 4 may work out, and that would be considered a resounding success.

The Yankees are going to be spending a lot to sign these guys. Melacon, Betances (if he signs at all, word is he may be a draft and follow), Kennedy and Chamberlain are all going to take a big check. Day 2 of the draft was spent drafting decent college position players to fill out our short season teams, with no notable selections. One or two guys may jump out a year from now and be considered legit prospects, but for now they are just guys to catch the balls in play allowed by our new array of pitchers.

I like this draft by the Yankees, a lot. The Yankees are stacked with high risk high reward prospects at the lower minor leagues (Nunez, Henry, Tabata, Jackson, Vechionacci, etc). This draft class will bring some stability to the system, and some major league arms to the team in the relatively near future.