Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In Depth: The 2006 draft, part 1

I covered what little I knew about the 2006 draft in June, but now that a little more information exists, I'm going to return to the issue.

We had one hell of a draft. Cashman showed off his financial muscle by drafting every tough sign in the book. The result? Some serious pitching.

The Top (Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, 1st round)

The Yankees used their top two picks like they are supposed to. Ian Kennedy, the craft college junior who comes about as polished as they get, recently signed for over 2 million. Chamberlain has yet to sign, but is expected to quickly come for about 1 million.

Kennedy left his three years at U SoCal with a 3.09 ERA in 311 innings, striking out 380 while walking 105. He allowed just 271 hits during that time. Chamberlain spent his three years pitching 260 innings, with a 3.84 ERA and 280 strikeouts. He walked 93.

These two guys are legit 1st round pitchers. They will both start in Tampa, although Trenton remains a distant possibility. Without a doubt, both will be in AA by the middle of next year, in line for major league jobs. Good picks, safe picks. ETA: Spring Training 2008 (Kennedy), All Star Break 2008 (Chamberlain)

The Tough Signs (Dellin Betances, Dave Robertson, and Mark Melancon)

Money is a good thing. The Yankees may not have the scouting department of the Diamondbacks or the analysts of the Dodgers, but they have one hell of a check book. These days, signing prospects can be expensive things and teams will often shy away from expensive prospects. The Yankees are not one of those teams.

Dellin Betances (High School Starting Pitcher) signed for a seven figure bonus fairly quickly after the draft. He promptly went to work on the Gulf Coast League, throwing 17 innings in 6 starts (GCL pitchers are limited in innings significantly), allowing only two runs. He has struck out 19 and walked 6. Amazingly, Betances has allowed only 8 hits. It's pretty clear that rookie ball hitters are overmatched by the Randy Johnson-like proportions of Betances. With any luck, he'll be in High A ball by the end of next year. ETA: 2009 and beyond

Mark Melancon (College Closer) signed last week. He fell to the 9th round for the Yankees due to a combination of injury and signability concerns. The Yankees tossed a 2nd round type bonus at Melancon, and he signed. Melancon was considered the top relief pitcher coming out of college into this draft. The Yankees got him, signed him, and are getting him ready for Tampa as I write this. He should follow a similar track to J.B. Cox, who quickly was promoted to AA. Having taken this long to sign however, Melancon may be a little slower to progress.
ETA: Mid-2008

Dave Robertson was also considered one of the top relief prospects coming into this year, but he was never expected to sign. Robertson pitched in the Cape Code league playoffs this year, tossing 7.1 innings without giving up a hit or walk. He struck out 15, including his final 6 batters for the league championship. He'll end up in Tampa next year.
ETA: Spring Training 2009

Money is a good thing, but good scouting helps too. Tomorrow I'll be taking a look at the mere mortal signings that the Yankees made, including 3rd rounder Zach McAllister, college outfielder Colin Curtis, shortstop Mitch Hilligross, and some other pitchers that the Yankees drafted. In addition, we'll talk about the power hitting catcher Jesus Montero, signed for 2 million out of Venezuela.

It's good to be back.