With the 2015 MLB Rule 4 Draft coming up this Monday, here’s a look at some of the prospects the Yankees could take with their first pick (16th overall).
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville: He’s a polished prep arm with a sturdy frame and solid stuff, but his delivery is worrisome. It requires a ton of effort, and his arm action appears to put a lot of stress on his UCL (the ligament that, when torn, requires Tommy John surgery to fix). He appears to be destined for a relief role in the majors, which can be valuable, but at 16th for the Yankees, probably isn’t the best investment if he’s there.
Mike Nikorak, RHP, HS: The top prep arm form Pennsylvania has the kind of frame scouts dream of. At 205 pounds, he’s still growing into his 6’5 frame, but already boasts plus velocity. His breaking pitches need some tightening up, and his change is inconsistent, but flashes plus at times, and plays well off his fastball. His command is inconsistent, but when he gets into a groove, he can become unhittable. His delivery is smooth, easy, and repeatable: a recipe for success. He’d be a great get at 16, if he’s available.
Kolby Allard, LHP, HS: If Nikorak is good, Allard may be even better. He doesn’t have the big frame that Nikorak does– he’s just 6’0, 170 pounds– but like Nikorak, he has an easy, repeatable delivery. Allard has fantastic command of his 93mph fastball, and his curveball plays well off it. He hides his pitches well– everything looks the same coming out of his hand. Prep lefties are often sought after in the draft, so his stock may rise past 16th overall, but if he’s there, the Yanks would be wise to grab him.
Garrett Whitley, OF, HS: Whitley has the tools to be a successful center fielder at the big league level, but I question how much he’ll hit. He’s got great wheels, a patient approach at the plate, and terrific bat speed, but he also has a bit of a tendency to slap at the ball and produce ground balls. In center field, he’s got value as a high upside pick, but he doesn’t have value anywhere else in the outfield. With Jacoby Ellsbury signed long-term in pinstripes, this may not be the best value pick for the Yankees. The talent is there for Whitley, but the fit with the Yanks may not be.
Ian Happ, OF, Cincinnati: Happ is on the smaller side at just 6’0, but boy can he hit. He’s got a beautifully simple swing at the plate that produces line drives to all fields. He doesn’t have an established position– he could end up being a second baseman, could end playing in the outfield– but his bat should allow him to move to the major league level. His short swing should allow him to adjust to hitting better breaking pitches. He may not produce a ton of power at the major league level, but he should be a safe bet to be a productive major league hitter.