Grading the Yankees’ Top 2015 Draft Picks

With the 2015 MLB First Year Player Draft officially in the books, how do the Yankees’ picks of the first five rounds shape up? What sleeper pick could turn out to be a star? Here’s an early look.

1st Round, 16th Overall: James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA: He’s considered by most to be a traditional “safe” college option, but to me, he’s got more upside than that. Kaprielian is an athlete at 6’4, 200 pounds, and while some people think he’ll top out as a middle-of-the-rotation kind of guy, I could see him as a borderline All-Star.

I think there’s a chance for him to grow stronger (I wouldn’t be surprised if he put on an additional 5-10 pounds in muscle over the next few years), and add a tick or two to his fastball velocity. But even if he doesn’t, his ability to locate his fastball-change-up mix should make him an effective big leaguer, even if he isn’t a superstar.

Grade: A-

1st Round, 30th Overall: Kyle Holder, SS, San Diego: Holder is an absolute delight to watch play shortstop. He’s an incredibly fluid athlete who seemingly glides to the ball when it’s hit. At the plate, he can be a little lost at times, but in order to be a valuable major leaguer, he doesn’t need to star with the bat. He’s got a quick, compact stroke that should allow him to avoid excessive strike outs; if he can do that, his glove will allow him to stick in the major leagues. But barring some miracle, he won’t be an asset at bat.

Grade: B

2nd Round, 57th Overall: Jeff Degano, LHP, Indiana State: Another high-floor pick for the Yanks who could have higher upside than many expect. He’s a really natural thrower, although some of the mechanical flaws that forced him to undergo Tommy John a season ago still linger – specifically, he needs to follow through fully and cleanly on every pitch.

There’s potential for his change to become an above-average offering, if he can learn to command it and play it off his fastball. Lower floor and ceiling than Kaprielian, though – after getting a relatively safe arm, it would have been nice to see the Yankees take a flyer on a high-upside prospect. Still, if he figures it all out, Degano could be a solid back of the rotation starter.

Grade: B-

3rd Round, 92nd Overall: Drew Finley, RHP, HS: Here’s the high-upside arm we’ve been waiting for. On one hand, few prep hurlers have the natural feel for a curveball that Finley does. On the other, his otherwise smooth delivery is hampered by inconsistent finishes, so while he has good control, he doesn’t always have great command. Without a blazing fastball, he’ll need to improve his command to be successful. But if Yankee pitching coaches can make that work, they could have a future star on their hands.

Grade: A-

4th Round, 123rd Overall: Jeff Hendrix, OF, Oregon State: Not a huge fan of this pick. Hendrix has performed well for the Beavers, but I’m not sure that his success will translate to pro ball. He doesn’t have tremendous bat speed, generating most of his power instead from his load, which may leave him vulnerable to good off-speed stuff at the next level. He’ll need to maintain his short swing as a professional to hit breaking pitches and crack the majors with the Yankees.

Grade: C-

5th Round, 153rd Overall: Chance Adams, RHP, Dallas Baptist: He’s a classic power reliever pick, with a mean fastball-slider combination that could fast-track him to the big leagues. There’s not much else to say about Adams – he’s a solid pick at this point in the draft.

Grade: B

SLEEPER: Terrance Robertson, OF, HS (12th Round, 363rd Overall): Robertson is the kind of player you could absolutely see at the top of a lineup in the future. An absolute blazer, you know he’ll be an asset on the basepaths and in center field. But he’s really intriguing at the plate. He’s skinny right now (just 175 pounds), but he’s got a powerful swing, coiling himself up like a viper before absolutely exploding on the baseball.

He’s still only 18-years-old, so he’s not done filling out his 6’0 frame just yet, but when he does, it could unleash some serious pop (for a leadoff guy, at least). He’ll have to learn how to really hit, and how to be a table setter at the top of a lineup, but he’s got as much upside as anyone in this draft class. The Yanks could have a potential 20/20 guy on their hands in Robertson.


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