With just three selections in this year’s MLB Draft, the New York Yankees will be forced to choose wisely with each pick.
While Major League Baseball and the players union continue to argue over money, the 2020 first-year player draft is set to begin on Wednesday.
For the New York Yankees, they’ll only receive three opportunities to add to their minor-league system during this shortened MLB Draft. Not only is the team surrendering its second and fifth-round picks to the Astros, but it also possesses one of the smallest bonus pools ($3.52 million) in the league.
Even though the Yankees hold the No. 28, 99, and 129 overall selections, they should still be able to draft three quality players this year. With that said, they can’t afford to waste any of their picks over the next few days.
Here’s a prediction for all three of New York’s 2020 selections.
1st Round: RHP Clayton Beeter
While the Yankees already employ a ton of talented arms within their organization, general manager Brian Cashman carries significant interest in adding another high-ceiling pitcher to the mix during the opening round of this year’s draft.
With so many blue-chip hurlers expected to be available, the Yankees will likely have many options to choose from on Wednesday night. Among others, the team has shown some interest in Clayton Beeter. The 21-year-old carries the potential of developing into a front-of-the-rotation pitcher.
Beeter will need to stay healthy in order to live up to his high expectations at the next level. Before the 2018 campaign, the Texas Tech product blew out his elbow during fall practice. This led to him undergoing Tommy John surgery.
To make matters worse, Beeter underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his shoulder just seven months later. In order to limit his workload in 2019, the Red Raiders kept him in the bullpen throughout his rookie season. Therefore, it’s safe to say he possesses a number of red flags.
Even though Beeter comes with a ton of risk, especially for the Yankees, many scouts have suggested that the right-hander features one of the best repertoires in this year’s class of hurlers. Furthermore, the youngster was able to effectively control all three of his plus pitches this spring.
In 2019, the 6-foot-2 player’s arsenal consisted of a mid-90s fastball that topped out at 98 miles per hour. It additionally featured a wipeout low-80s curveball and a devastating mid-80s slider. The hard-throwing righty also owns a decent mid-80s changeup but rarely used it this spring.
After struggling to pitch with consistency last season, Beeter was on track to put everything together before COVID-19 canceled the rest of the 2020 campaign. Over his four starts, the Texas native produced a 2.14 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 0.81 WHIP, 5.6 H/9, 1.3 HR/9, 40.2% strikeout rate, and a 4.9% walk rate over his 21.0 innings pitched.
As Beeter moves to the next level, he’ll need to continue developing his changeup. This will provide him with four dominant pitches in the major leagues. If successful, the young arm could become a key pitcher within the Yankees pitching staff in the near future.
Here are some of Beeter’s highlights from the 2020 campaign:
3rd Round: SS/2B Hayden Cantrelle
The Yankees minor-league system features a handful of talented young infielders. Nonetheless, the team’s top two shortstop prospects aren’t expected to reach the major leagues until 2022 at the earliest.
With that in mind, it makes a ton of sense that the team would be interested in targeting a middle infielder with its second selection in this year’s draft. Furthermore, there’s a very good chance the Bombers could select Hayden Cantrelle for the second time in four seasons.
During the 2017 MLB Draft, the Yankees drafted Cantrelle out of high school in the 40th round. He opted to take the college route instead though. Now three years later, the 21-year-old is more polished and would provide a great deal of upside as a third-round selection.
Starting with his skills at the plate, the 5-foot-11 middle infielder was able to hit for contact and draw a ton of walks over his near-2.5 seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette. The switch hitter was also very successful at creating havoc along the basepaths.
In particular, Cantrelle was one of just six NCAA Division I players to record at least 25 extra-base hits (15 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs) and 25 stolen bases (28 to be exact) during the 2019 campaign. Along with these stellar results, the former Ragin’ Cajun generated a 13.1% walk rate, 20.3% strikeout rate along with a slashing line of .309/.426/.504/.930 over his 291 plate appearances.
While the Louisiana native struggled to hit for contact this spring — leading to his slashing line of .136/.320/.237/.557 — he was still able to maintain his impressive walk totals. He produced a 15.4% walk rate over his 78 plate appearances.
Despite playing at shortstop during his collegiate career, Cantrelle’s defense became a plus trait when he moved over to second base during both the 2018 and 2019 summer leagues. With that said, his impressive range and quickness could allow him to platoon between both positions at the next level.
With his ability to remain disciplined at the plate and steal bases with ease, Cantrelle could be slotted near the top of the batting order throughout his career. If the young infielder can transfer his contact metrics over to the next level, he could develop into a future leadoff hitter for the Yanks.
Here are some of Cantrelle’s highlights from the 2019 Cape Cod League:
4th Round: C Casey Opitz
While Gary Sanchez isn’t leaving the Bronx anytime soon, New York has displayed a bit of interest in adding to its pool of young signal-callers this season.
Since there’ll likely be a few blue-chip catching prospects available during the first round, the Yankees could certainly address this need with their initial pick. Nevertheless, it would make a ton of sense for the team to target Casey Opitz — one of the best defensive catchers in this year’s draft — with its fourth-round selection.
After turning down the Cleveland Indians’ offer following the 2017 MLB Draft, Opitz headed to Arkansas where he continued developing his craft behind the plate. Once the 21-year-old earned a starting role during his sophomore campaign, he ran with the opportunity and was considered by many scouts to be one of the best defensive catchers in the country.
Overall, the 5-foot-11 athlete produced the best caught-stealing percentage (48%) and allowed the fewest number of passed balls (two) among all backstops in the SEC in 2019.
Along with Opitz’s stellar defensive performance in 2019, scouts took a significant interest in his accuracy while throwing balls to second and third base. In addition, he’s received a ton of praise over the last two seasons for his leadership, pitch framing, and game-calling skills.
Despite his behind-the-plate performance, the former Razorback hasn’t been able to translate that same success to the batter’s box. While able to generate walks, the switch-hitting catcher has struggled to hit for extra bases throughout his collegiate career.
In 2019, Opitz recorded just three doubles, three home runs, 33 RBI’s, and a slashing line of .243/.379/.311/.690 over his 220 plate appearances. Nonetheless, the Colorado native was still able to create a 17.3% walk rate along with a respectable 20.5% strikeout rate.
If Opitz desires to be more than just a backup catcher at the next level, he’ll need to generate more hard contact moving forward. Regardless, his skills behind the plate could provide him with a lengthy career in the majors.
Here are some of Opitz’s highlights from the shortened 2020 campaign: