Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The first guy we got word of on Deadline Day was 20th rounder, Daniel Camarena. He was listed in more than one place as having limited projection physically, and we also saw a mainstream reference to a "fringy" fastball. From speaking with you over the years I know that you and your people often have very different assessments than the scouting outlets, especially when you guys get updated looks throughout the summer, so can you tell fans what you saw in DC that intrigued you enough to make a serious run and break him from a tough school in USD?8/4/2011, 9:47 AM: Here are the latest updates from Yankees Scouting Director, Damon Oppenheimer on every last one of the remaining signability cases the Yankees selected in the 2011 MLB Draft. In order to get the information out to you as quickly as possible I cut out the standard "conversation" format I like to use, which saved me considerable time transcribing and formatting. If you have any questions at all just let me know in the draft thread on the PP Yankees forum, and I'll be glad to discuss as much as I can. For reference point purposes, this conversation with Damon took place the night of 8/2/11. Enjoy!
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, we've seen him pitch quite a bit throughout this year, and he's also been a position player, which limited his ability to maximize his pitching talents. Now he's going to commit fulltime to pitching and I suspect we'll see even more progress. We saw him pitch a couple of times this summer where the fastball was basically 90-92 MPH, so I guess I might have a little different definition of "fringy"[laughs]. I'm not saying he's going to pitch at that all the time, but I think what you're going to look at down the road on him is a lefthanded starter going 88-92 MPH with a plus curveball and a plus changeup. I think all of that is in there, and we saw it more than once this summer, so we feel really good about getting a young lefthander who has potential starter ability.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you guys went to see him on August 4th, had he been working on anything for you specifically? The secondary stuff maybe?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, he was in good shape, his breaking ball was crisp, his fastball had jumped up to the velocity that Dave Keith had reported he was capable of, and he basically just confirmed what we had thought he was going to do over the summer.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You reference the changeup being plus down the road, so is it safe to assume it's still a work in progress?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, he's like all high school guys – everything is still a work in progress – but I do believe we saw quite a few good ones, and we also saw a really good feel for pitching. I think he's got the chance to combine that stuff from the left side with an excellent ability to pitch.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The second guy we heard about on Deadline Day was 38th rounder, Joey Maher. This was a kid who pitched a ton this summer, so you were able to get a lot of looks at him. What did you see in those innings that got you to the point where you were ready to actively pursue negotiations with him in order to get him into pinstripes?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, it really started when Team USA was up in the Boston area and Matty got Joey to come over and throw with Jordan Cote. They threw for me then and I was really impressed. He's had great size, he was really projectable, and the velocity on his fastball from that workout was 90-91 MPH, so I said "let's keep following him" because that kind of workout is pretty exciting - he's really got a good, natural sink on his two-seamer. So we then went down and watched him pitch at the 18U World Woodbat down in Atlanta, where he actually pitched on the same day as Rookie Davis, and he was pretty much 89-92 MPH, touching 93, with plus life on that fastball. He got nothing but groundballs and strikeouts, so it was a really good day for him that we saw. The curveball needs some development, but you know Nardi and those guys are really good with that so we don't see a problem there. I just think he's one of those northeast kids that's really a projectable guy, and while he definitely needs some work and isn't a finished project, my guess is that he's got the chance to be a hard thrower with good, nasty sink.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The last guy to come in for fans on Deadline Day was 27th rounder, Chaz Hebert. Can you speak a little about his "auditioning" this summer, from multiple trips to Tampa, to getting specific coaching instruction to follow for weeks on end in order to demonstrate to you and your staff that he was worthy of being signed?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, it started with Chaz when Andy brought him down here to throw just so we could have some of the development guys look at him. They actually helped him with the spin on his curveball, because he really didn't have much of a breaking ball at the time. Then he went and threw at the World Woodbat in Atlanta the day before Joey and Rookie. He had been on vacation after school ended, and he hadn't had much time on the mound leading up to the start, and he ended up having a pretty rough outing; he wasn't really good. At that point I let him know that if he was going to take this seriously, and if he wanted to be a Yankee, he needed to do some stuff. So he got together with Ron Guidry one day, who is from the same area, and they worked on some conditioning and stuff, and he then came back here to Tampa on his own to throw for us. The fastball was better, the curveball was better, the change…everything was better, and he looked very projectable. That was pretty much when we decided that we wanted to make a run at him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Just for clarity's sake, it sounds like all three kids are going to be developed as starters, correct?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, that's the whole plan here – for them to become starters. We wouldn't draft a high school kid with the intention of him being a reliever. It may end up that way, but that would be down the road.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are they going to get GCL innings, or just wait for instructs?
Damon Oppenheimer: They'll report here and we'll make an evaluation on where they are, what's best for them, and what we want them to do then. We'll have a better idea at that point if they're going to pitch at all or just wait for the fall.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Another guy that I've gotten a ton of questions on has been Greg Bird. The scouting outlets say he's got pop but questions defensively and with the hit tool. I always tell fans the odds are very strongly in favor of you guys having a better read on the kid, so when I see him get the largest bonus of the entire class I know you have to really like him. Can you give us the D.O. & Co. scouting report on Greg so the fans can get a better idea of what type of prospect the young man is?
Damon Oppenheimer: We think Greg Bird has a chance to really hit, hit with power, and land in the middle of a lineup. When we're talking about that type of bat from the left side, it's a pretty serious commodity. If he catches or plays first base, it really doesn't matter, we believe this is a real, legitimate bat, and left-handed bats with this kind of power are hard to come by. I think we're buying bat power before we're buying the catcher side of it with Greg.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What scouting grade would you place on that power?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, he's got 70 raw power, that part of it is legitimate – he can miss-hit balls and still get them out of the park. So we know we're getting the power, and we think he can be a guy hitting for average, doubles, on-base – the whole deal.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is he going to get a shot at catching?
Damon Oppenheimer: We're going to bring him in, discuss it with him, and see what we think as a group as far as the best route.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much did Jake Cave's performance in a collegiate summer league help him get signed?
Damon Oppenheimer: You know, both Cave and Bird went and played in woodbat college leagues, and both performed well, but the process meant more to us because it demonstrated how much they love the game of baseball and how they weren't afraid to go out and compete at that level. What they did in terms of performance was a bonus, but the idea that they didn't run away, sit all summer, and try to just hold out for money without playing was more important to us.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, with Joey Maher you spoke about an impressive projection if all goes well. What does that say about the outlook for his fellow New Hampshire native, Jordan Cote, who is a bit more developed at this point? What type of ceiling do you see in him?
Damon Oppenheimer: He's the classic projection guy. He's already got a good arm, and he's a big, strong man who's not done growing and filling out. His arm works well, his delivery is already good and is going to get better, and I just think that over time this is a guy who projects as a legitimate power arm.
5th Round, Greg Bird (HS): "I think we have a good shot at getting this one done by the deadline. We've been working on this one and we're hopeful that we'll get him signed."
10th Round, Jonathan Gray (JUCO): "He's going to school. We've tried, we made as good a pitch to him as we possibly could, and he feels it's in his best interest to continue on to Oklahoma. His junior college coach has taken a job at OU, so he's going to follow him and we wish him the best of luck."
17th Round, Mathew Troupe (HS): "We're a bit disappointed with this one because coming into the signing period we thought that he was a guy we would be able to get done, but he's had a change of heart and has decided to go to the University of Arizona. Sometimes it doesn't work out the way you think it will, but that is part of the way the draft process is constructed, and it is his right to do what he feels best for his future."
20th Round, Daniel Camarena (HS): "He hasn't pitched much this summer, but on August 4th he's going to throw for myself and Brian Barber and we'll have some discussions with him then. But the door is open. He's shown good stuff at times in the past, but hasn't always shown it consistently, so we're trying to piece together what we've got, and when we get to see him up close on the 4th it will be a helpful to see where he stands. "
25th Round, Adam Smith (College): "He just pitched 4 innings yesterday, and I've had people there three different times that he's pitched. He's flashed big velocity numbers – up to 95 mph – and he's also had some issues with control, but if we get him we know what we're getting into: a good athlete with some arm strength. We're going to make a run at him and put in the effort to sign him, and if he has interest and feels it's time to get his career started then hopefully we can get something done. I think it's in his best interest to get on the mound with us and sign, but only he can make that decision."
26th Round, Jordan Foley (HS): "He'll be going to school."
27th Round, Chaz Hebert (HS): "He just came to Tampa and threw for us today. The door has been open all summer on this one, and it's still open. He's shown progress, and I like that. We saw him right after the draft, then we saw him throw at East Cobb, and now we saw him today. There's been a lot of progress in terms of his breaking ball, command of the breaking ball, and just a little bit more fastball. I'm not sure if we'll be able to get something done, but we're going to put in a responsible effort and see if we can work something out.
28th Round, Josean Lazaro (HS): "We're going to follow him all the way through Farmington [Kevin's Note: Farmington, NM is where the Connie Mack World Series takes place every year] and we'll see what happens."
29th Round, Scott Hoffman (HS): "He'll be going to a JUCO for a year, try to get better, and then make himself eligible for the draft again next year."
30th Round, John Brebbia (College): "He's started to come on in his last three outings on the Cape that we've seen, so we might try to make a run at him."
31st Round, Aaron Bummer (HS): "Brian Barber and Kendall Carter are going to go see him tomorrow, and make a recommendation on what to do. We've seen him pitch about three times this summer, and we're definitely intrigued and definitely have kept the door open on this one.
32nd Round, Garrett Nuss (HS): "I think the decision is for him to go to school."
33rd Round, Spencer O'Neil (HS): "He's had a very nice finish to his summer, but I think it's likely that he ends up at school."
34th Round, Skylar Janisse (HS): "Deny just told us that he's going to be at Farmington, so we're going to make sure we see him there. We don't have to make a decision until the deadline, so we're going to use all the time we're allowed on him."
35th Round, Chris McCue (HS): "He kind of shut the door almost right away. He'll be going to North Carolina."
36th Round, Ryan Thompson (College): "This one was a disappointment for us. He showed no interest in signing."
37th Round, Ryan Harris (HS): "He's going to go to Florida."
38th Round, Joey Maher (HS): "He came down and threw at East Cobb, and he threw well while touching 92-93 MPH. He's projectable, he's got a big body, and he did a lot of things that we like, so we're going to make a run at it and hopefully get something done. He came down here to take his physical so there's no worry about it in case something happens at the deadline, and I hope that we can make something happen with Joey."
39th Round, Tyler Gilbeau (HS): "He's not going to sign."
41st Round, Jeremy Rathjen (HS): "Well, we haven't been able to see him do anything, so getting him in and getting him done would be based purely on speculation about what his health will end up being. The door is open a crack, but there's a lot of risk involved at this point due to the recovery and also the fact that we didn't have all of our on-field questions answered because we were only able to see him for a short time before the injury ended his season. So yes, the door is cracked, but it's not a huge opening."
42nd Round, Kevin Cornelius (HS): "You know what? Sometimes you get to the point where you'd like to have a guy, but you also have to make sure you have at-bats for him. Where we sit right now with the guys we have playing in the organization, I don't think that we could give him the necessary at-bats and playing time to maximize what he is. There are only so many positions on the field and spots in the lineup – that's just part of the deal."
43rd Round, Tyler Farrell (HS): "He's going to go to school."
45th Round, Cass Ingvardsen (JUCO): "School as well for him."
46th Round, Conner Mach (College): "I think he's going to end up going to school, largely because of what we just spoke about with not having a place for too many incoming position players."
47th Round, Ethan Springston (HS): "He's not going to sign."
48th Round, Wes Benjamin (HS): "He'll be going to school."
49th Round, Tyler Mapes (JUCO): "He's going to Tulane."
50th Round, Cody Stewart (HS): "We're having a tough enough time getting at-bats for Justin James and some of those other guys down there, that it's awful hard to throw another outfielder in the mix.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is it safe to say that the same number crunch doesn't apply as strongly to pitchers because you can do significant work with them away from live game situations?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, I'd say that's correct.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So when it comes to the later round signability cases this year we're probably looking at any signings coming from the pitching ranks rather than the position players?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yes, that's the direction the current state of our system and this year's draftpicks seem to be taking us.
8/3/2011, 11:21 AM: It's been a while since the last blog entry, and the reason is that it's much quicker and easier to provide general information via Twitter, and then discuss it in greater detail in the PinstripesPlus forum. When I have something that is more substantial (like the Damon interview that will be coming shortly), I'll place it here, but I think the day-to-day news will be on Twitter coupled with more detailed information on the forum. If you would like to follow me there, you can do so @YankeesDraft.
Now, on to the reason for this entry. Last night in a conversation with the Yankees Scouting Director I was posed a question that I thought had a simple answer. When I mentioned something with regards to the preemptive physicals that I had found many draftees taking prior to even reaching an agreement, Damon asked me "do you know why we bring the kids in this way for their physicals?"
I immediately gave an answer that I was sure of - they're brought in preemptively, prior to even reaching an agreement, because you want to make sure the physical is out of the way and you don't have to rush if you reach an agreement within a couple of days, or even hours, of the signing deadline.
In reality it has almost nothing to do with the Yankees, and everything to do with the players; the preemptive physical is for the benefit of the players taking it. I was confused by that, because I was almost positive they were taking the physicals in order to clear a hurdle that they didn't need in their way at the 11th hour.
The truth though, is that the preemptive physical is given in order to preserve college eligibility. Something I did not know previously was that the Yankees can sign a player at the midnight deadline without a physical, give them the physical after the deadline, and if it is failed the team can void the contract. So that kills the general perception that these preemptive physicals are for the benefit of the team in the signing process.
What the preemptive physical does allow though, is for the drafted player to know if the Yankees will have any issue with signing him. If a kid out of high school signs at the deadline without a physical, takes it two days later, fails, and the Yankees void the contract he has lost his college eligibility because he had signed a contract with an agent and a professional sports team. By giving the physicals to kids that are interested in signing before they even begin negotiations, they can let the player and family know right away if there is anything that would prevent them from garnering a contract. If there is, negotiations need not take place, and the kid can go play college ball on scholarship without putting his eligibility in jeopardy at all. Before you say anything about the Yankees knowingly sending a kid with a significant medical issue to honor his scholarship at an unaware university, they would be violating federal HIPAA laws if they released those results to a college. The results of the tests the Yankees run are the legal property of the player, and the Yankees have no rights at all to even discuss them, let alone release any reports to a school.
What it boils down to is taking great care to give the players they draft the best opportunities possible. It is not about painting a kid into a corner or anything like that; the amateur scouting department is in the business of building positive relationships in order to find the best product for the New York Yankees franchise. I can tell you from all the years that I've covered the Yankees draft and interacted with DO & co. as well as the players, that there is a genuine care taken in the evaluation process that goes beyond simply looking for good baseball players. Bonds are developed between scouts and parents, coaches and crosscheckers, etc., and a lot of it is predicated on the belief that the organization has the best interest of the kid's future in mind when they pursue him in both the pre-draft and post-draft processes. That future is largely baseball related, but also deals with the general quality of life he can expect. Giving a draft pick a preemptive physical is a way of protecting the kid from a potentially catastrophic problem that could arise if the examination was given after negotiations had taken place.
All in all, it's just another fascinating piece of the MLB Draft puzzle, and I while I was listneing to the explanation last night I was smiling knowing that I'd be able to bring it to you guys and gals. Hope you all found the reasoning as interesting as I did, and stay tuned for the latest news as we approach the deadline.
7/7/2011, 11:51 AM: It took some time to get all of the information assembled due to the huge number of cases in the later rounds this year, but here is PART II of the annual Signability Probability Odds entry (rounds 21-50). To reiterate from PART I, anything above 20% signability odds on a later round guy is actually pretty good. I obviously believe that the Yankees will sign at least a few of their late-round cases, but at this point in the signing period it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly which ones, so the common probability given to everyone in PART II to start is 5%, and I adjusted up or down based on the information I have.
22nd Round, Nick Goody (JUCO): Goody is a RHP from a Florida JUCO, meaning he's relatively local to the Yankees' base of operations. He has a scholarship waiting for him at national powerhouse LSU, and he's spending the summer in the Northwoods embracing a role change as the Mankato MoonDog's closer. His stuff will probably play up in that role, and the Yankees will get plenty of chances to see him to make their final assessment. I personally always like the odds of a JUCO guy signing better than a HS or 4 year guy. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 20%
25th Round, Adam Smith (College): A hitter his entire college career, Smith was drafted as a pitcher this year after his junior season. It was a bit of a surprise, but the idea of the strong-armed third baseman as a pitcher isn't exactly a new one – it's just surprising when it actually happens. Smith will be pitching in the TCL this summer, and will give the Yankees plenty of chances to see if they like what they see, and also if Smith is amenable to officially converting to pitching. In his debut relief appearance for the Brazos Valley Bombers the big righty threw one inning and struck out the side.CHANCES OF SIGNING:25%
26th Round, Jordan Foley (HS): Another big, Texas RHP, Foley has a scholarship waiting for him at Central Michigan. He'll be a true summer follow, and already has some good support, having been a Mark Batchko fueled selection. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 10%
27th Round, Chaz Hebert (HS): Hebert is a guy that Andy Cannizaro fought for in the war room, and has all the projectability to have gone much higher. He'll be pitching this summer for the Texas Sun Devils, and the Yankees may make an offer depending on the progress the talented lefty shows. He's got a scholarship to UL-Lafayette waiting for him, but he seems to be very excited at the prospect of getting bought out. In the end it will depend on his performance this summer, in combination with his number. As of July 4th weekend Chaz was pitching in the 86-88 MPH range for the Sun Devils. Like Evan DeLuca just a few years ago, if he can bump that and still pitch well, he'll have his offer.CHANCES OF SIGNING: 10%
28th Round, Josean Lazaro (HS): Lazaro is a smallish RHP with a commitment to Villanova who started off in Pennsylvania, but ended up playing his senior year of ball at a prep school down in Florida. Lazaro is very ambitious, as evidenced by him building a website as a means of advertising himself to colleges and scouts, and that same dedication allowed him to steadily increase his velocity over the years. He's really going to have to show out this summer to get an offer that will break him from getting his college education, but being as ambitious as he is, he has at the very least put himself in position to do so by playing for the very competitive La Ley Legends in Florida (and pitching very well so far). CHANCES OF SIGNING: 5%
29th Round, Scott Hoffman (HS): Pitching for Desert Ridge HS in Arizona, Hoffman blazed white hot in 2010 as a junior. However this past season as a senior he did not make the strides that many scouts were hoping to see in order to make him worth what it would take to buy him out of his Sun Devil scholarship. However, if he steps things up again this summer the purse strings may relent. The potential NCAA imposed penalties looming for ASU are the wildcard here, with a postseason ban possibly playing a role in the decision Hoffman will make in August if the Yankees present him with an offer. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 5%
31st Round, Aaron Bummer (HS): Bummer has a scholarship waiting for him from the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the lefty has a good chance of making it to Lincoln this fall. He is yet another summer follow that the Yankees will be tracking, but he seems very ok with ending up in Nebraska. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 1%
32nd Round, Garrett Nuss (HS): Another Floridian, Nuss is pitching in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, which speaks to his willingness to take on a challenge. Pitching in a collegiate league in the same state as the Yankees minor league operations will give the projectable righty plenty of chances to impress Damon & Co. He has a scholarship to UCF, but he's created a much better opportunity than most for him to be seen, so the odds are slightly higher here. He's already shown some impressive results in the early going. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 15%
33rd Round, Spencer O'Neil (HS): O'Neil is a rail-thin 6'4" corner outfielder who profiles to have considerable power down the line. Like Nuss, he's taken on the challenge of a collegiate summer league, this time it's the WCC which plays in O'Neil's home state of Washington. Word from Scout.com's own Frankie Pilliere was that the projectable slugger was looking for a cool $1 million, and if that's the case he's not signing unless he goes on an unprecedented rampage for the Cowlitz Blackbears. A .260 / .316 / .370 line through his first 20 games isn't going to get it done, although he did hit his first HR of the season over the July 4th holiday weekend. I'd wager he ends up at Oregon. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 1%
34th Round, Skylar Janisse (HS): The Yankees once again dipped into the Canadian talent pool this year by selecting Janisse, a good-framed RHP with a dual commitment to Oakland and San Jac. In our post-draft interview Damon told me that Deny Boucher has a good eye for the Canadian kids that could come on very strongly once they get "thawed out", and the Yankees are taking the chance that the 6'4" Janisse does just that this summer when he pitches for the Canadian Junior National Team. He'll have a great chance to de-ice right off the bat, as the team is presently in Cuba playing a 9-game series against the Cuban Junior Nationals. Out of 14 pitchers on the Canadian roster, Janisse is one of just two who are scheduled for two 4 inning starts (7/5 and 7/9) so he should get plenty of exposure. Like Evan Rutckyj last year, Jannise is the type that wants to get started if at all possible, so I like his odds slightly better than some of the other involved in the D3T™. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 10%
35th Round, Chris McCue (HS): The smallish RHP with standout stuff is going to be one of the more difficult breaks to make considering he has a scholarship waiting at Chapel Hill. McCue is a priority follow in the D3T™ for the Yankees who love his stuff, and if he were pitching this summer I'd like his odds a little better, but the fact that he has no concrete plans to do so at this point leads me to believe he's going to be in Tar Heel blue this fall. Summer school ends on 7/22 for him, so any pitching he does this summer won't come until at least that point. CHANCES OF SIGNING: <1%
36th Round, Ryan Thompson (College): A DES with some leverage after he was drafted a bit later than expected, Thompson was slated to pitch in the NECBL this summer. However, the big righty left the team before ever throwing a pitch in a game due to a tired arm. This is either great news for those hoping for his signing, or the worst. It could be that he has reached an agreement with the Yankees that has to wait until closer to the deadline in order to be officially announced, or it could be that he really does have a tired arm and won't pitch this summer which would effectively mean he's not signing. I'd lean towards him actually having a dead arm since he averaged getting into the 8th inning in his 13 starts this season (95 IP). There's always the chance that he'll take less just to get started, and with DES cases like this I think that's in play – especially when part of their reason for selecting Thompson was purely statistical. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 15%
37th Round, Ryan Harris (HS): Like Chris McCue, Harris is another priority follow for the Yankees in the D3T™. He has a strong commitment to UF, but the Yankee are really hoping he's willing to entertain their overtures this summer and they can break him from Gainesville. They like the natural movement on his stuff, and if he can show some strides this summer he'll be amongst those at the top of their list. Still, like with most of the other D3T™ participants, a lot needs to happen to get to that point AND Florida is a tough commit to break - especially in-state. Harris is playing with fellow Yankee draftee Josean Lazaro on the La Ley Legends this summer. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 12%
38th Round, Joey Maher (HS): Despite not being as experienced as most of the southern kids, New Hampshire's Maher has the frame upon which a Major League starter can be built. Standing at 6'5" and possessing the ability to bump into the 90's, he's a prospect who could really come on very quickly (like fellow Yankee draftee and New Hampshire resident Jordan Cote did) if he fills out and the velo ticks up. He's a Matt Hyde guy, so you get the feeling that the Yankees had a nice inside track to his potential and desire to sign when they made the pick. Joey is pitching for his local legion ball team in Bedford this summer (Steven-Buswell Post 54), so he won't be facing much competition, but the Yankees are going to be looking primarily at stuff when it comes to the tall righty so competition level doesn't necessarily have much bearing. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 15%
39th Round, Taylor Guilbeau (HS): Guilbeau is another of the quintessential summer follow kids in the D3T™. The Yankees see him as a lefty with some nice projection, but they need to see him realize some of that ceiling in order to make an offer to him at the deadline. Another Cannizaro-backed pick, Guilbeau came on some at the end of the season and they like him a lot, but need to see a bit more command and velo by August. On a positive note, I have heard that Taylor would like to sign and start his career, so at this point it appears the biggest hurdle is getting the Yankees to step up on an offer. He's still short on the necessary velo at this point, but he's got two months to work on that in the summer heat. Being a lefty gives him a slight leg up, too. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 15%
41st Round, Jeremy Rathjen (HS): Much like others in this list, Rathjen sees a boost in his odds purely due to the fact that I know the Yankees actively would like to sign him if they could. The anticipation is to check in with him throughout the signing period to see how his rehab is progressing, and whether or not it is prudent to make the type of offer that Rathjen would need to bypass what would be his second junior year due to the NCAA granting him a medical redshirt. He'd have some additional negotiating leverage for sure, but at the same time he'd likely have turned pro after this season if he remained healthy, and if he has designs on playing baseball professionally it might be best to make the jump now, as he'll be 22 in January. At the same time Rathjen is a highly intelligent guy by all accounts and takes his education with an extreme seriousness. He also has a younger brother (Beau) who will be a HS senior in the Houston area next season, and he might want to stick around to provide support and possibly recruit him to the Owls. I don't think the signing is likely, but I believe that it is not nearly the impossibility that some in the media have made it out to be. It's all up to whether Rathjen will crack open the door slightly on a legitimate desire to sign, because the Yankees are going to make it clear that they want him.CHANCES OF SIGNING: 20%
42nd Round, Kevin Cornelius (HS): Despite not having any eye-popping measurables, Cornelius has a scholarship to a renowned baseball program in TCU and was named the Class 5A MVP of his district in Texas, and then a member of the 1st Team Class 5A All-State roster (without too much explanation: that's a pretty big deal). He's another summer follow who area scout Mark Batchko really believes in, so it's all about what he shows in the next 6 weeks. I've increased his odds over what I would have given him normally because he's a die-hard Yankee fan that has always dreamed about getting selected by the Bombers. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 8%
43rd Round, Tyler Farrell (HS): Farrell is yet another D3T™ prep pitcher who is going to have to close the gap between his present stuff and his projection in order to get an offer. He is currently playing legion ball with his local team (Galesburg Post 285) in Illinois. I don't have any information either way that would make me raise or lower his odds beyond the standard 5%. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 5%
44th Round, Adam Ravanelle (HS): Ravanelle is one of the more intriguing picks of the entire draft for the Yankees, and make me think about another fairly slight of build, lots of projection, high-80's to low-90's, big pricetag, prep RHP with a commitment to a big-time baseball program that they once took: Drew Storen. I'm certainly not saying that Ravenelle will pan out like that, but that is what things look like when the late-round prep kid reaches his potential in college after the team is unwilling to meet his number. More often than not it works out for the team (the kid doesn't pan out), but when you're talking about a premier baseball program like Vanderbilt waiting with open arms for a kid like this, the possibilities are very intriguing to think about. Being a Hyde guy he's already got a leg up in the D3T™ in my mind, but he's also going to require one of the biggest bonuses in order to prevent him from getting to Nashville. Ravanelle will be playing legion ball this summer for a local team in Massachusetts, so while the Yankees will definitely get to see him pitch, he's not going out of his way to step up against more stiff competition – nor should he considering he's got a Vandy scholarship, which is something you don't take unless you really plan on seeing it through. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 10%
45th Round, Cass Ingvardsen (JUCO): A well built RHP from Weatherford JC, Ingvardsen has a scholarship waiting for him at Stephen F. Austin if he chooses not to sign. He's another guy that doesn't have any leg up from what I can gather, but has the chance to show his bullpen wares for the Dodge City A's in the Jayhawk Collegiate League. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 5%
46th Round, Conner Mach (College): Mach is probably the one late round guy I'd wager on signing if I had to choose. Mach took a break from competitive ball to start the summer, but recently started playing for the Victoria Generals in the TCL, and has said that he is doing so to prove to the Yankees that he's ready to enter pro ball (AKA "pay me my money"). My personal belief based on nothing other than my own opinion is that they were in negotiations during his break because he wanted to sign, couldn't agree on a bonus, and Mach decided to go play in the TCL to show them he was worth bumping their offer. Juniors taken this low usually end up back at school, but I think this one ends up getting done. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 60%
47th Round, Ethan Springston (HS): This is another simple one: The Yankees were impressed by Springston's swing after seeing him this spring while at a game to scout another player, kept him in mind, and on draft day took the chance late that they would get to see him some more this summer and continue the scouting process. Springston was playing summerball for AZ DBacks Development, but is no longer with the team. Given that he's no longer playing he's either reached an agreement or is just taking a break before going to school in the fall. Given the lack of OF room in the Yankees system, as well as the round he was drafted, I'm inclined to say that Springston is preparing for the latter and will not be signing. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 1%
48th Round, Wes Benjamin (HS): The crafty lefty has a scholarship to Kansas and is playing summerball for the very competitive Longshots out of his home state of Illinois. Benjamin is a young man that has dealt with some adversity through his baseball career, and he has the competitive fight that the Yankees love to see. The issue here is that they likely need to see more velocity than Benjamin will show this summer, so the very strong odds are that he will be a Jayhawk in the fall. If he shows that velo it's on, but the odds don't favor it.CHANCES OF SIGNING: 5%
49th Round, Tyler Mapes (JUCO): Mapes has an intriguing path, having attended the Naval Academy his freshman year of college before transferring to Navarro JUCO this past season. He was a 3rd Team JUCO All-American at Navarro and has a commitment to Tulane next season if he doesn't sign. The Yankees are hoping to see continued development this summer from Mapes as he comes off a fantastic season closing at Navarro, but it's going to likely take more than they're willing to pay in order to have him forgo the chance to pitch for the Green Wave. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 5%
50th Round, Cody Stewart (HS): The Yankees had their eye on Stewart for most of the spring, and did not select him specifically because they didn't want to bring a kid they thought had potential into the limited AB situation the organization currently finds with the OF position at the lower levels. However, when Stewart was still on the board in the last round, there was no reason to not take the talented prep. Believe it or not, Stewart has a better chance of getting done than almost any other draft pick discussed in this writeup. The Yankees really like him, and if he plays well in the summer and is willing to talk in August, I'd bet this one gets done. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 25%
6/21/2011, 11:11 PM: It's time for PART I of the annual signing odds entry, ladies and gentlemen. This will focus on all of the signability cases predicated on youth and/or talent. I won't include guys just because they are at a JUCO or because they are a DES, but instead focus on all the guys who are either in high school or in college but have eligibility/talent leverage.
Keep in mind that anything above 20% signability odds on a later round guy is actually pretty good. For example, I obviously believe that the Yankees will sign at least a few of their late-round cases, but at this early point in the signing period it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly which ones. Because of this I can't put my 100% faith in signing those guys on individual players, but instead on a general group of players that I believe is in consideration for the money/roster spots. As a rule of thumb, anything over 50% indicates a greater probability that the specific player will sign than not.
Also, as I come into more information and flesh some of these situations out I'll post blog updates with the news that is causing me to change the odds on specific players. Without further ado, here are the current odds as I see them for signability cases across the first 20 rounds...
2nd Round, Sam Stafford (College): The hard throwing LHP shouldn't be of any significant concern to stay in school. Now that his season with the Longhorns is wrapped up I suspect we'll be seeing him pitching for Staten Island in short order. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 99%
3rd Round, Jordan Cote (HS): The first of several Matt Hyde picks, this one has the best chance to sign in my view. If the Yankees had taken him in the 5th-10th round area I'd be a lot more dubious, but I think they specifically selected him this early so as to avoid any major issues with his signability. He's got the Coastal Carolina commit, but 3rd round slot money is already pretty close to his asking price. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 85%
4th Round, Matt Duran (HS): Another Hyde Guy, this time more local than New Hampshire's Cote. The Yankees really like his bat, and this is another case where taking him this early allows them a greater chance of signing due to the higher starting point on the slot money. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 85%
5th Round, Greg Bird (HS): Bird was a guy who burst onto the scene last year by catching current LSU RHP, Kevin Gausman. He has a very nice power profile, but questions remain about his ability to stay behind the plate defensively. I think that the Yankees have a very good idea on this one because they've been on him for so long, and they'll likely get it done. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 70%
6th Round, Jake Cave (HS): This is the Austin Jackson/Mason Williams pick of the 2011 draft – a guy whom the Yankees really like and have been on both for a while and in great detail. I wouldn't be too concerned about his commitment to LSU, as I'm told he doesn't have a strong desire to make it to campus. I think this will make the second time in three years that the Yankees buy an athletic LHP/CF away from the Cajun Country, and I also believe that Cave, again like Mason Williams last year, will get the highest bonus in this class, and may be the only one to hit seven figures. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 75%
7th Round, Austin Jones (HS): Another power corner bat, Jones intrigues the Yankees as a guy with a potential hit tool that couples with above average power. Multiple members of the scouting team went to crosscheck the first baseman, and he impressed them each time. Taking him in a single digit round shows a strong desire to come to terms, as well as a strong probability that it will happen. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 80%
10th Round, Jonathan Gray (JUCO): He may be the biggest player I can remember the Yankees drafting. A kid from Oklahoma that was drafted in the 13th round last year, he played JUCO ball this past season at Eastern Oklahoma has a scholarship waiting for him at OU, but I believe he wants to get started with his baseball career and that the Yankees have good connections due to Woody and Simmons being all over Oklahoma this past year. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 55%
13th Round, Justin James (JUCO): This one is either a lock or a complete tossup - I don't think that there's much in between. At this point I'm not believing that it's a lock, unfortunately. Justin James is dripping in tools and has the bloodlines to do something with them. He just recently committed fully to baseball, but will be 21 in November and the Yankees believe he is at the point where he may be ready to get his career started with professional coaching and game experience. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 55%
14th Round, Rookie Davis (HS): I'm actually more bullish on this one than I probably should be, but sometimes you hear something a certain way and just have a hunch. Davis was originally considered fairly unsignable, but he was willing to make the trip down to Tampa and workout/visit with the Yankees, and Damon Oppenheimer said that he thought the visit help alleviate much of the concern that the Davis family had with professional baseball vs. going to East Carolina. I think this one will eventually work itself out, and Rookie will be in rookie ball. CHANCES OF SIGNING: p
17th Round, Matthew Troupe (HS): Troupe is a smallish RHP who the Yankees really like, due in part to his advanced pitchability for a HS kid that doesn't have an extended amount of time on the mound. This one is going to be difficult, but the Yankees are going to work hard to get it done. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 35%
18th Round (HS): Maybe my personal favorite pick in the draft, Sharp is a fun prospect to read up on. I tweeted it recently, but I believe that this one is going to get done at the deadline. While he may not be a traditional JST, like Taylor Morton last year, I think the Yankees really want to sign Sharp and he's a top priority so long as he throws well this summer. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 70%%
20th Round, Daniel Camerena (HS): A LHP with his type of stuff/polish and a commitment to USD usually goes to school. The last time the Yankees were able to break a prep lefty from a USD commitment, Evan DeLuca had to start throwing 95 MPH, and it still came down to the last few minutes before the midnight deadline. Area scout David Keith really sold Camarena in the war room, but I don't believe the odds of him signing are very good. CHANCES OF SIGNING: 20%
6/12/2011, 10:24 PM: As reported on my Twitter feed (@YankeesDraft), Dante Bichette, Jr. is so close to an agreement with the Yankees that he will be headed to Tampa tomorrow in order to take his physical with Yankees medical team on Tuesday. Sounds like we will be seeing the young slugger playing in the GCL very shortly if everything goes as expected.
6/9/2011, 10:34 PM: Alright folks, here it is: the final instant-reaction postdraft interview with Damon Oppenheimer, covering every single pick of day three. It was a long three days, but I hope you all enjoy the depth of information that Damon was willing to provide me with, and the considerable amount of time he took out of his schedule, sometimes just minutes after his day was finished to partake in this dialogue. Take a read, and get ready for the D3T™ this summer!
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Now that the selection process is over, how are you feeling? Those are three arduous days – perhaps a little worn out?6/8/2011, 8:40 PM: The 2011 MLB Draft is officially over and the signing period has begun. Day three was an astonishing sequence to follow for Yankees draft fans, as they didn't take a single filler pick, and almost every last selection has some measure of signability. If you were following my Twitter feed, you could see my disbelief as signability pick after signability rolled in. Tons of high school kids, JUCO arms, 4-year guys who fell, and injury concerns made up the day three haul.
Damon Oppenheimer: Good, you know, I feel good. Doing pretty good, just had dinner with the guys, and they'll all leave tomorrow so it was nice to put a little end to it tonight.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do most of your area guys fly in for the draft?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, we don't have a huge room so we only have a few of the area guys come in each year, along with the crosscheckers who are all there.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Was there anything to 31st round pick Aaron Bummer being the first selection out of the chute today? Perhaps him being just a bit more signable than your typical prep taken on day three?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, it was nothing that really jumped out at us in terms of his signability, we just had talked to our scouts out in Arizona and they had pushed for him because they thought he was the right guy to take and that the kid was making some progress, so we didn't want to miss him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 32nd round pick Garret Nuss is from Florida and has a commitment to UCF, and coupling those facts with his 6'2", 185 lb build, he reminds me a bit of Matt Richardson. Is that comparison off?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, I think you could be on the right path with that one. We're going to try and see him pitch a little bit more, see if we can get some crosscheck looks at him this summer, and see how things go, but I definitely think you could be on the right path with that comparison.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Spencer O'Neil struck me as a shot-in-the-dark guy, but not one that was likely to sign, when you selected him in the 33rd round. He's get all the raw tools/skills, but he physically immature and there was a rumor that he was asking for a million dollars. Is this another summer D&F?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, I'm not sure what the signability is on him – I really didn't even pay attention to that. He's a guy that Mike Thurman had liked, and he liked him starting from last summer, so with Mike really pushing for the guy we got to a point in the draft where we just had had to take him. We'll see what we have this summer, because there might be some ceiling here.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: After taking Evan Rutckyj last year, you went back to Canada in the 34th round this year, taking Skylar Janisse. He has a dual commit to Oakland and San Jac, and whenever I see the San Jac commit my antennae perk up a bit. He's got a great build and seems projectable, but the scouting reports I read don't really set him apart from any other solid young high school arm. Is it accurate to say that he's got a fairly long way to go at this point?
Damon Oppenheimer: You know, Denny Bouche has a pretty good feel for how these Canadian kids can come on, how they're not the finished product, and how you might need to give them a little bit more time. We're hoping that seeing him throw this summer will help us with a little more evaluation to see what his timeframe is, and if it is the right time for him to sign. It takes a special talent and a special eye to be able to scout some of the northern guys like that, and Denny is really good with it. We also had one of our crosscheckers, Dennis Woody see him in Arizona, and he thought he threw well. So I thought this was a good risk to take.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Next up was Chris McCue in the 35th round, who is a little smallish but is said to be very athletic, have a great makeup, and some nice stuff along with a strong commit to UNC. He struck me as the type that, were he 6'4" 215 lbs like a lot of these other guys, he'd have gone early on day two. Is this another summer follow?
Damon Oppenheimer: You know, McCue can show you some pretty good stuff, but he's not really physical right now. We'll see what happens with this one. He's one of those guys that could click for us this summer and possibly do something, and he's also one of those guys you look at and think that, if he went to college for three years, he might turn into a high pick. So we've got to go evaluate it, see what we can come up with, and see if we can make a run at him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is it safe to say that the first five picks of day three were the typical summer D&Fs from the high school side of things? That there is not any inside track on signing them, but that you like the prospect and will see if something happens this summer that forces your hand with regards to an offer?
Damon Oppenheimer: We don't have a lot of roster space available between the GCL and the NYPL because we've got guys that were in extended and need places to play. We didn't have to fill a bunch of spots, so the whole goal was to take our chances on some of these guys, see if they come on in the summer and become something special , and not sign filler players that you're going to have to release a year from now. So that's what the goal was, and I think we're accomplishing it. You're right that, no, we're not going to be able to sign all of these guys – we can't afford to sign them all and there's not enough space to sign them all. However, there might be a guy a little higher who isn't going to want to sign, and that might open the door for somebody who really wants to be a Yankee and who wants to do this. So I'm not sure which of these guys will sign right now, but we'll be looking to see who makes progress this summer and shows us that they want to be a Yankee, that's for sure.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In the 36th round you took another Matt Hyde guy out of New Hampshire in Ryan Thompson, who is a DES at Franklin Pierce. He has good size, stuff, and results, and he also originally went to UCONN. Did you have any connection to him from 2008 and/or his time in Storrs, or was this more 2011 scouting based?
Damon Oppenheimer: You know, that was an interesting one because Matty Hyde liked him, but then we had one of our guys who works in the New York office, Michael Fishman, who's our statistical analysis guy, and this pick was one that he kind of came up with and said we should pay some attention to. So we took Fishman's advice, along with Matty Hyde's, and we're going to have him go to the Cape, see how things go there, and see if it all comes together at the end of the summer.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Interesting. Do you know statistically what it was that was pointed out? Perhaps a control ratio or maybe something to do with missing bats?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, I don't exactly know, I just know that they both felt strongly about him, and at that late point in the draft, with two of my guys feeling strongly about the guy from two different viewpoints, I didn't need to know the details. We just said "let's go".
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: A Florida commit with a UF commit is usually one of the tougher breaks, especially late in the draft. It usually also means a pretty high-end prospect, though. What can you tell us about 37th round pick, Ryan Harris?
Damon Oppenheimer: You know…we'll see with him. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed on this one that he keeps an open mind and considers this, because he's got a good arm with heavy sink. So I'd like to see what happens with this one, and see if we have the right resources as an organization to attract him and make this the right time to sign.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: It seems like you might view him as being just a little further along than some of the other prep arms we have discussed?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, I think that's probably right, and considering where he's from and everything, that probably makes sense, too.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 38th round pick, Joey Maher is yet another Matt Hyde guy from New Hampshire. He has the size of Cote, but not the velocity yet according to reports. Did you take him based on that projectable frame, or did you see progression at the end of the season that wasn't reported in earlier write-ups?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, Matty really thinks that he's projectable, and we kept seeing him get a little bit better and closer to the projection numbers Matty thought he could reach. We hope to see him this summer, hopefully getting better, and makes himself a guy that we want to make a good run at.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Taylor Gillbeau was your 39th round selection, and he got some nice exposure playing at a relative powerhouse in Zachary High in Louisiana, and looks to have some nice projectability, especially as a lefty, with his 6'3" height. What can you tell us about his stuff?
Damon Oppenheimer: This is one of those guys that Andy Cannizaro got to see quite a bit living down there. We're kind of in the same situation we've been discussing a lot in this conversation – we're dreaming that he can come on and get to where we think he can be eventually, maybe close that gap a little bit and allow us to find a bit more comfort in the projection grades we have on him. A good sized lefthander with a big, loose arm like that – if he starts throwing harder and commanding his fastball we've got ourselves a chance at a legitimate prospect, and at this part of the draft you take that chance. You know, Andy's got a really good feel down there and he's seen this guy a lot, so we put a lot of stock into what he says.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In the 40th round we saw the end to our long, national nightmare when you selected your very first up the middle guy in LSU's Tyler Hanover. I never thought I'd see the day when a Damon Oppenheimer led draft would go 40 rounds without any athletic, up the middle guys. We're you aware that streak was going on while it was happening?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, it just happened. We had guys like that at the top part of our draft board, and they were gone. After we made our first two picks those kind of guys were basically gone, but I'm always of the belief that those middle of the diamond guys who have the potential to be really, really good usually do get gobbled up really early. So no, we didn't plan the draft to lots of corner power guys, but the thing that allowed us to capitalize on that was last year's draft being heavy in the middle of the diamond. Between our guys from last year, some of our Latin guys, and hopefully some of the international free agents free agents we bring in on July 2nd we are already able to fill the middle of the diamond. So taking Hanover as our first up the middle guy that late wasn't planned on for sure. Tyler's a good player – I've seen him play for two summers on the Cape and at LSU. We talked to him and he's going to go back up to the Cape and play for Y-D, we're going to look at opportunity, he's going to look at opportunity, and we'll see what's best for both sides. Tyler is a quality, quality, person in addition to being a good baseball player, so we'll see what happens.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I read an article from the Cape last year that said he draws Pedroia comparisons because he's so undersized and plays 2B. Is that fair to him?
Damon Oppenheimer: You can't ever try to figure out who the next Pedroia is – that doesn't work. That's like years ago when I was scouting every 6'0" RHP was "the next Greg Maddux", and here we are years later and we still haven't found that guy. So I try not to do the comps too much, but Tyler's a good player and we'll see what happens.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Taking Jeremy Rathjen in the 41st round was the one that really set off all the draft fans. Knowing you, this struck me more as a matter of a talent level that, as you like to say, you were "not being able to walk by anymore", rather than a pick that you made because you had an inside track on him being signable.
Damon Oppenheimer: No, we don't really know exactly what he's looking for, and it is the kind of situation where you get to the point where the talent level is too good to pass up and you never know when somebody might change their mind or find our situation attractive. It doesn't hurt for us to try, give it a shot for two and a half months, and see if someone's mind changes. So that's where we're at with that – I hope it works out.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Would you say that as of right now, from your understanding, he's not really interested in signing and is looking to go back to Rice for a healthy and productive senior year?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, I think there's a legitimate interest in signing and it's just a matter of us seeing how healthy he is and giving it a good shot, because we liked him before he got hurt – we were pretty darn intrigued about him. So we'll see how it works out, but this isn't going to be something where a guy is drafted just on his name and then never pursued. We're going to see how he does, see how his rehab is going, and see how healthy he is.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: With him being so early on in the recovery process, is there any chance at all that he will be able to do anything athletically before the signing deadline?
Damon Oppenheimer: I don't think this is a case where we'll see him able to play at anything resembling full strength, three-quarters speed, or any of that stuff, but we might be able to get to the point where we can take a look around in there and see how the rehab is going and what we've got.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 42nd round pick Kevin Cornelious doesn't have the best arm-strength or speed from what I've read, but he made many all-star teams and has a commit to a very strong school in TCU. Can you tell us where his value is as a player?
Damon Oppenheimer: Batchko thinks he can hit. Mark was fighting for him, saying that this guy was a good hitter, and had a chance to hit. He's starting off in the middle of the field at shortstop, and Mark wasn't sure that he would stay there, but he liked the hit tool here. TCU does a good job of recruiting, so if you combine what Mark Batchko says with a TCU commitment, it will sometimes end up being a pretty good formula that might produce something. So we'll see, but again, this is another guy we'll watch this summer .
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Tyler Farrell has a nice, projectable frame for a high school righty and already has some weight on him, and he's already a fastball/curveball guy according to reports, so that meshes in well with what you guys like to teach in the system. Is he any more ready for pro ball than some of the other day three prep arms?
Damon Oppenheimer: I'm not really sure what we have on this one. He's another one where I know we liked him, we're going to take another look and see what we have, continue the scouting process, and see if he is that guy that's ready to go at the end of the summer. Right now he's got a ways to go to get to where he'd be ready to sign, but there's too much there to pass on the chance that the projection starts to be realized this summer. With Lemke up there, he knows these guys well, and he said "we've got a shot here, let's take a chance and go for it, and we'll see what the end of the summer brings to us".
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In the 44th round you popped yet another Hyde kid, selecting Adam Ravanelle, a RHP out of Massachusetts. The appearance on the outside to the fans is that this one is about as extreme a signability case as you have this year considering his talent and Vandy commit, and he's not likely to sign. Is this as much of a longshot as it appears ?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, but I think you need to give yourself a chance at a guy with a high ceiling down in this part of the draft in case he comes on and really starts throwing well, in case somebody at the top of the draft balks at what we're trying to do, or in case something simply changes. Those guys at Vandy, they're pretty good, and they have a pretty good idea of who's going to be good. So it's a another one of those good formulas – you start jumping in on northern guys that project, and you get one that's headed to Vandy, it's definitely something you take into consideration when you're drafting.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Cass Ingvardsen in the 45th round looked like another good velo bullpen arm. Are his age (21) and JUCO status indicators to his willingness to get started?
Damon Oppenheimer: It could be. We'll see how the velocity plays out, and again, we will be tracking him this summer to see what we have – keeping them all in the hopper to see which ones play out.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I was really intrigued by Conner Mach's selection in the 46th round because he was a junior from a fairly big conference putting up good numbers. Add in him telling schools he wouldn't sign as a high school senior back in 2008, and it seems to me this may be a bit of a signability issue for a junior this far down in the draft. Is this the kind of guy who will end up on the Cape trying to show you with his play what it will take to buy out his senior year?
Damon Oppenheimer: I'll tell you what – I think Conner has real interest in signing. We'll see how it goes, but it might be something that we possibly do sooner rather than later. Honestly, we didn't think he'd be here at this point, and after we made a couple of calls it seems like there is a little more sincere interest in signing than we first thought. So there is a chance that this one does get signed and gets going.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Ethan Springston is listed in a lot of places as a corner infielder, yet you selected him as a centerfielder in the 47th round. To my untrained eye he seems like more of a college guy than one who's ready for the pros, but what are the facts on him from a scouting perspective?
Damon Oppenheimer: It was interesting because our guys went to see Tayler Scott, the guy the Cubs took in the 5th round, and they were going to see him pitch. Springston was on the opposing team, and Steve Kmetko, our area guy out there, told Tim Kelly "hey, make sure you take a look at this guy because he can swing the bat a little bit". So Tim got a look at him, was surprised by how much he liked the swing, and noted that we needed to follow him to see if he got stronger. So we're going to watch him this summer again, give it another shot, see if we can get some more at-bats to make a better decision, and see if he's a guy that might want to sign. Maybe he shows enough to get it done and get going right now.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So this doesn't sound like the kind of kid that you immediately think needs to go to school? He might be able to benefit from playing pro ball right now?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, I think that's the case – yes.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In the 48th round you took Wes Benjamin who is another prep LHP. He lists a little light and doesn't throw hard at this point, but really seems to have a ton of polish and moxie for a 17 year old kid. Is that an accurate portrayal of him?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, you're right on with what you're talking about. We didn't get a lot of looks at him this spring, so we're going off the good that we saw despite not having a lot of inventory. Before we go in and make a decision on this one we'd like to get a couple more looks to get a better idea of what we've got and, once again, see if it's the right time for him to start a pro career in our opinion. If that's the case, then maybe we make him an offer.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Tyler Mapes had a fantastic JUCO year at Navarro, but has the commitment to Tulane, so the question is "is he's ready to take the mound as a professional?"
Damon Oppenheimer: You know, I think he might be a little more tied in to going to Tulane, that's a good opportunity. He started off his freshman year at Navy, so he's a scholastic person, and then he showed us flashes of being pretty good at Navarro. He's an interesting looking guy, and we're going to try and watch him this summer. [laughs] I think I sound like a broken record saying "we're going to watch him over the summer," but to make the right decision you need to have multiple looks, and that's what we're trying to do on some of these guys.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, your last pick in the 2011 draft was another high school kid, Cody Stewart, a CF with a nice projectable size and a commit to Riverside. Is he just another summer follow guy in the hopper?
Damon Oppenheimer: The thing with Cody Stewart is that he would have been a much higher pick for us had we felt that we had the right opportunity for at-bats, playing time, and stuff like that which he's going to need to develop. He can fly, he's a runner, he's got a good projectable body, he's definitely not as close to being as strong as he's going to be, and there's just a lot of projection there. He came down and worked out for us in Tampa, really opened up a lot of people's eyes, and showed what he can do. We let him sit on the board a lot longer than we normally would just because of the lack of immediate opportunity we thought we had for him due to the depth that we have in the GCL this year. Finally we get to the 50th round and we were just like "you know what? This guy earned it, he deserves it, who knows what might happen." He might want to sign, and he's got tools, athleticism, and puts the bat on the ball pretty good. We'll see what happens, but he's no shoo-in just to go to school.
I just got off the phone with Damon a little bit ago and will have the full day three breakdown ready tomorrow night (hopefully), and I just outlined this on my Twitter feed (@YankeesDraft if you care to follow) but I wanted to quickly give you guys an idea of what to expect with these 20 kids.
From what I can gather, not a single one of the 20 picks was a lock to sign (46th rounder Conner Mach was probably the most likely at this point). They were all taken specifically because they were not locks to sign, as the Yankees are going to follow them all this summer and simply wait to see which guys show the projection necessary to merit the offer to break them away from their school. Between last year's class in extended and all the international kids coming up, the Yankees have limited roster space when it comes to signing 2011 draft picks. Instead of wasting the existing spaces on filler, they simply took a whole bunch of signability cases on day three and will effectively throw them all into a ring this summer to see who fights his way to an offer. I'm coining this the Day Three Tounament (D3T™), and I'll be tracking for you guys all summer.
I'll have the full writeup tomorrow, and you can get the jist from Damon himself. Until then, enjoy sorting through all the scouting reports and statistics of the potential future Yankees.
6/8/2011, 11:08 AM: Ok, here's a cornucopia of information for all you diehards looking for some more detail on all the intirguing picks and signability cases from yesterday's 29 picks. We've got 20 more rounds to go today, but here is a review of what went down yesterday.
As an aside, I can't remember the last time the Yankees selected so much height, some of which is coupled with already filled-out frames. There are some BIG kids in this class.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Was 2nd rounder Sam Stafford's selection based exclusively on his development since getting to UT, or did you also have data from seeing him back in 2008?
Damon Oppenheimer: It's been more about his time at the University of Texas. We liked him, we saw him out in the California League in the summer, and the guy who coached him out there gave us really good information on him. We watched him pitch this year, we saw him strike out a lot of guys, and we saw a swing-and-miss fastball. He's a big guy and we think we've got a chance for a left-handed starter so we jumped on it. J.B. Cox, who is a former player of ours and a draft pick of mine, is helping there as a coach and really gave me insight on the kid's makeup and how competitive he is, so we felt we had a good read on him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you see fixes for the issues with his command/control, or was that not a factor because the stuff was too good from a big framed lefty to pass up?
Damon Oppenheimer: I think when you get a lefty, you get swing-and-miss, and you get strikeouts, when they get with Nardi and the guys you'll get help with the command. I think being in professional baseball, getting a consistent turn in the rotation – I think he's going to flourish. J.B. saw the same thing, as did our scouts who saw him. We just saw a good ceiling on this kid.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I really loved your 3rd round pick, Jordan Cote. Is he a Matt Hyde guy?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, that's Matt's territory and he did a nice job on that one, staying on it, and getting us there for some in-depth looks. I mean, our last look was sending Brian Barber up there this past Saturday to see him pitch. We stayed on it, and every time we went the velocity got a little better, the breaking ball got a little better, and we like seeing that from these northern kids. We think we have a chance at a big, strong horse and a shot at a pretty good one.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Does drafting him in the 3rd round make him less of a signability case because you're starting from a higher slot base?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, obviously we didn't draft him that high to not sign him, so we're going to do everything we can to get him signed.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is 4th rounder Matt Duran from Presbott or Hyde?
Damon Oppenheimer: That's Cesar's area.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I know you hate when I do this, but he seemed to have some similarities from a prospect standpoint to Dante Bichette, Jr. Is there anything at all to that?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, we're talking about a corner guy again who we think can hit. He doesn't have Dante's power right now, but we do think the guy can swing the bat and think he can develop some more consistent power. We got to know him, know his makeup, and his work ethic, and he answered some questions for us there so we'll see what happens, but we really like the bat.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much did it help getting to see 5th rounder Greg Bird pitch to a top prospect like Kevin Gausman last year?
Damon Oppenheimer: Uhm, I mean it helped – it started the process for us and allowed us a little earlier look at him because it put him on the map. But we saw him all summer, we saw him down in Jupiter, and scouted him a lot this year. He's got big power, it's pretty easy power, he can hit, and he's a big guy – he's the kind of guy we like to have.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Defensively the question with him is whether or not he will be able to stay behind the plate. What are the organization's expectations with regards to his position?
Damon Oppenheimer: We'll see how it works. I think that's going to be up to him by how hard he'll work at it. If he really wants to do it, which he says he does, then I think we've got a shot to have a power guy from the left side who can stay behind the plate. If it's something that doesn't work, or we see a backup at the position or something, then it's an easy move to first base and he's got power that will still profile over there really well.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Looking at 6th rounder, Jake Cave he seems to have some similarities to Slade Heathcott. Both are about the same height and weight, and both were LHP prospects who also played centerfield leading up to the draft.
Damon Oppenheimer: I don't know, they're both their own kind of prospect, but there are a few similarities between them. More than anything it's the way they play the game, because they both play ultra-hard. I think Jake has a chance to be a good hitter, and we'll see how the power comes, but he's a gamer. He gets after it, works hard, gets dirty, and really wants it, so hopefully everything will work out and we'll get that one done.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In a predraft interview I did with Shawon Dunston, Jr, he said the one attribute he would steal from someone in this draft class was to swing from his butt like Jake Cave. Is his swing an aggressive, max-effort one?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, it's not max-effort, it's just aggressive. It's a controlled aggression where he's going up there looking to do damage.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: There were a lot of bigger names in Washington state, but you took 7th rounder Austin Jones before many of them. What was it that you saw in him that the draft media didn't?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, obviously those were just names; they weren't the names we were interested in. Those were names that a publication or somebody else came up with – not us, so that didn't really mean anything to us. The way we saw Austin Jones as another one of the guys we thought could hit and has some power. We went in there after Mike Thurman led us to this guy who he said had a Major League swing and easy power, and everybody that went in there to see him came away saying the same thing: "Whoa, this guy impacts the ball." So we think we've got some power in the bat, and the kid's a good looking hitter, so we'll see where it goes.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So he wasn't really a late bloomer for you guys? It seems you were on him for quite a bit of time.
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, I mean I know I saw him early enough where I can remember being freezing cold. We had seen him back in November in Peoria, and Mike did a nice job of keeping us on that.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In the 8th and 9th rounds you took two of those college guys we discussed in our predraft interview, where they might be bullpen arms, but they show great velo and at that point in the draft you need to capitalize on the value. Is it fair to say that Phil Wetherell and Zach Arneson fit that mold?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah. I mean, it's hard to find starting pitching deep in the draft that has power to it. So if you're looking for power arms and you don't get them early, you're going to be looking at relievers. Those power arms are what we're looking for, so we're looking at bullpen guys, and we see a lot of value in having a lot of power arms coming out of the bullpens throughout your system. These guys fit that mold: they throw the ball hard and they have secondary pitches, so they're the kind of guys that we're interested in.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 10th round pick Jonathan Gray is another very physically big kid, probably one of the biggest I've ever seen you draft – the is just a massive presence on the mound . Does his decision to go JUCO last year instead of Oklahoma give any indication that he might be more signable than it first appears, or is he going to be a difficult sign?
Damon Oppenheimer: It's probably not going to be an easy sign, but our guys had a good feel for this guy. Dennis Woody and Lloyd Simmons, who we talked about before the draft as being new to the staff, know this kid, know the family, and have a good feel for this situation, so they made it easy for us to make the selection. Once again he's another big body with a power arm and it comes out easy, so this one is something we'd like to do.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Does he have any projection as a starter?
Damon Oppenheimer: I don't know that. I think that's where we start, we definitely go that route, and we'll see what happens. We do anticipate him being a starter to begin though.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You seemed to be selecting a lot of just really big dudes, but 11th round pick Mark Montgomery was not one of them. However is it fair to say that he fills that makeup/competitive trait that you are perpetually seeking?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, you know Scott Lovekamp is the area guy there and this was one of his gut feel guys that he knew and had done a lot of work on, so we rode Scott on this pick and trusted him with what we were getting here. Montgomery was a guy he liked, and we're excited to get him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Within a few moments of the pick happening the SID from Grand Valley State replied to me on Twitter that we were going to love 12th round pick, Cody Grice. He sounds like a great sleeper pick, with him being athletic, competitive, and a late bloomer (but also really well built) due to being a football player up until recently. How were you guys able to hone in on what seems like a great find?
Damon Oppenheimer: I give the credit to our area guy, Mike Gibbons. He found this guy, stayed on it, dug and dug, and we think we've got something. This kid is a good, strong-bodied guy, ran a 6.56 60 for us, threw well, and showed some impact with the bat. So he's probably a northern kid that needs to thaw out a little bit and is a little raw, but he's got athleticism, he's got a good body, and he's got some plus tools. Hopefully this one turns out to be a good one because we liked what we saw when Mike sent him down to Tampa to work out for us. Guys were happy with what they saw out of him there.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The first thought that went through my head when I saw the information on 13th round pick Justin James was a quietly stunned "whoa." He's got the great bloodlines and the physical specs on him look ridiculous, but can he be a baseball player?
Damon Oppenheimer: You know it started at Sac City, and I think this year he's finally put basketball behind him, he's worked at it, and it looks like it. He's got a terrific body, he's a well above average runner, he's got athleticism, and we saw some feel to hit. You know, he's got some catching up to do, but the athlete in him, the bloodlines with his dad Dion, and the full time commitment to baseball gives us a chance at a pretty good ceiling here. Although didn't hit any homeruns there, we saw some raw power that made us think we've got a shot at a kid who could be alright.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I initially thought this could be a pretty difficult sign, but it sounds like he really ready to make the commitment to baseball and just get started.
Damon Oppenheimer: He knows it's time to be a baseball player, but we haven't gotten into the signing process with him yet. We're looking forward to having him, hopefully.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In the 14th round you took yet another mountain of a kid in Rookie Davis. Our own Frankie Piliere said he could end up being a big-time steal if you could get him signed. He showed massive raw power both at the plate and on the mound, and you guys selected him as a pitcher. Is this one a shot in the dark on a huge talent, or is there a legit chance he can come to terms?
Damon Oppenheimer: I think Rookie's a guy that we've got a shot at signing. We've had a lot of good contact, and he and his family have a comfort level with Scott Lovekamp, who once again just amazes me with how he gets to really know the players and their families, and lets them know how important they are. Rookie came down and worked for us in Tampa with his father, and I think maybe we were able to put their minds at ease regarding some questions they had about professional baseball. You know what? We're going to do our best to get this done and get him into the system. He's got a chance at a big power arm, so we'd be excited to have him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: That sounds like one that will go down to the wire if he does sign.
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, but who knows really – I'm still working on tomorrow and worrying about that! [laughs]
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In the 17th round Matthew Troupe is smaller compared to the other high school guys you popped today, but he also shows some upside having recently converted to the mound. You really seem to like finding fresh high school arms that you can mold. Is that the case with this one?
Damon Oppenheimer: Nah, Troupe's a pitcher; he's a guy that can pitch. He doesn't come across to me as a catcher conversion at all – this guy looks more like the Ian Kennedys and guys like that. He's got a feel to pitch, he's got a changeup, and he's got stuff that makes you think he can be a good pitcher. We'll see what happens with him, he's a little bit of a tough signability case, but we think we've got a good product to sell here so we'll see what we can do. We like Troupe a lot, so I hope that we can get this one done.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 18th round selection Hayden Sharp was one of my favorite picks so far. Yet another huge high school kid who flashes a serious power arm. You brought up Lloyd Simmons earlier, and I was going to ask you about him specifically with regards to this pick – is Sharp one of the fruits of having Simmons on this year's staff, or is this a kid you probably would have been on anyway?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, we probably wouldn't have been on him without Lloyd. He was in there and able to get depth into that territory for us. Hayden Sharp popped late, we were on it right away, and we think we saw him pretty good. He was kind of up and down, there was big velocity at time and others when it wasn't, and he's got a ways to go, but he is a big dude with a high ceiling. It might take some time to get there, but if he does you might have something good, so we're going to work on it all summer, watch him pitch, and hopefully he'll throw well enough that we can get something done.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is it correct that he was used primarily as a reliever in high school and wasn't really starting that much?
Damon Oppenheimer: I think we saw him both ways so I don't exactly know the extent of where most of his innings came from. I just know that both Lloyd and Dennis Woody jumped on it and said "we've got something here that we've got to try to stay on."
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you do manage to sign him, with his scholarship to Central Michigan to play quarterback does he qualify as a two-sport guy?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, we can definitely talk about him as a dual-sport guy.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 20th round pick Daniel Camarena is another guy like Cave who seems like he has the prototypical LHP pitchability. Unlike Cave, you like him better on the mound. What did you guys see in him?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, we drafted him as a pitcher; we see him on the mound. He's not a power guy buy any means but has a good feel to pitch, just a solid pitchability. He's pretty advanced for where he is and his velocity kept creeping up as the season went on. This was one of those guys that Dave Keith was pushing on us all year, but was saying to "hold off, don't come see him, don't come see him", because he was going to start throwing better at the end, and he was right because the guy did. We'll see how it goes with this one, we'll see what happens. He's got a pretty good deal to USD, but maybe we can make something happen.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 25th round pick Adam Smith was a really interesting selection because he is a good-bodied junior infielder at Texas A&M, but seemingly out of nowhere you guys selected him and had him listed as a RHP. How much have you guys seen him actually pitch?
Damon Oppenheimer: Steve Boros has seen him pitch some, but I don't think we've seen him pitch a lot. He's got a big arm and he's an athlete, so we're going to watch him in the Texas summer league, see how the pitching comes along, and see if it works for us.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you say he has a big arm, what do you think he can get it up to?
Damon Oppenheimer: Steve's seen him hit 94 MPH, so we've seen a little velocity there. It's also about seeing if it's something he really wants to do. I think he sees himself as a position player right now, so we'll see how it goes. We obviously think his best future is on the mound.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Right after Smith you took yet another big-framed prep, Jordan Foley in the 26th round. I couldn't find much information on him outside of him being really young and having fairly limited experience on the mound.
Damon Oppenheimer: You know, he's a Mark Batchko guy, and Mark's at his best as a scout down in this part of the draft, having been on some guys that have turned out pretty good. I think this is one of those deals where we have a projection guy that we'll see where it goes. We'll try and watch him this summer to see if we can get a better feel for the whole situation and see if he's a guy that becomes someone we sign.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 27th round pick Chaz Hebert seems like another prep with that classic pitchability frame, although with a good bit of projection left. What can you tell us about his stuff?
Damon Oppenheimer: yeah, he's a good projection guy, and I think what we're looking at with him is that if we can see some of it happen over the summer, then maybe he's a guy we can make a run at.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 29th round pick, Scott Hoffman seemed to have a bit more juice last year when he won the Arizona Republic's state player of the year as a junior. His senior season probably didn't go the way he would have hoped, but he's another tall prep pitcher that you've selected. What did you guys see in him this season that made you take him off the board?
Damon Oppenheimer: We've seen the velocity come and go, and it's been a little bit up and down, so with this one we went a little bit more off of last year than we usually do. We decided to take a shot at him at this point in the draft and see what comes of it this summer. We'd like to see the power stuff really show, and if that happens then maybe we can make a run at it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I know you don't focus on this heading into the draft, but on the whole Day Two seemed to be all about huge frames, corner power bats, and velocity. Is that a fair characterization of your picks through the first 30 selections?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, I think it's what presented itself to us. I mean, like you said, we don't try to force anything, it's just us seeing some potentially special corner bats in this draft, and guys that had some arm strength whom we liked. That's just kind of where it went. You know, historically I like the athletes in the middle of the field, which you saw last year, but this draft just presented these other types of guys to us, and we just couldn't walk by.
6/7/2011, 10:57 AM: Well, we're just aboutan hour away from the resumption of the MLB Draft, and I wanted to throw something out there that I tweeted yesterday.
If you want to get a look at to or three of the names of the signability kids that will be selected today, take a look at the 2010 rosters of both the Area Code Yankees and the ECP Yankees. I'm willing to wager that we get at least two kids selected off those rosters today, and they will most likely be signability cases. Hopefully one is Derrek Fisher, who did not play Area Codes, but did participate at ECP. He would give the Yankees another big prep power bat to develop, and he's a lefty to boot.
In the meanwhile, here is link to my late night interview with Dante Bichette, Jr.
6/6/2011, 11:42 PM: So here we are again, smack dab in the middle of the most exciting draft in all of sports. The Yankees weren't picking as early as I would have hoped when Cliff Lee took his talents to Reading Terminal Market, but having any day one pick is still nice. To kick off the 2011 Yankees Draft Blog I spoke with none other than the Damon Oppenheimer himself to get the details on what made Dante Bichette, Jr. worthy of the Yankees' only day one selection.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: First things first, what was it like having to wait until pick 51 this year?
Damon Oppenheimer: It felt like forever!
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Was Dante Bichette, Jr. a guy you had really honed in on, or was he in a group of players that you were hoping would be there?
Damon Oppenheimer: He is a kid we really had a good feel for. We know him, we've been there to watch him do everything outside of playing, from his workout routine to just about anything related to how he prepares himself for the game. As the season progressed and our scouting season wore on, he was a guy that we really started to feel comfortable with.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: From a scouting perspective, what would you say are his best attributes?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, he can flat-out hit, he's got big-time power, he can throw, and he's going to be a good defender at third base. On top of that, and the thing that sets him apart from a lot of these guys, is the work ethic, heart, and desire of wanting to be a great player.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much of that do think can be tied to being from growing up in a baseball family?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, I think obviously his dad knows what it takes to get there and stay there, and I think he's been able to instill that in Dante. We've gotten to know the mom and dad with this process, and they're tremendous people, tremendous workers, and very diligent. You can tell that it's rubbed off on Dante a lot – he's got a work ethic and a way about him that I haven't seen from a high school kid.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: It seems like he's a prospect whose value is strongly in his bat at this point, but you believe that he can become a very good defender at 3B as well?
Damon Oppenheimer: I don't know, I think he's going to be a good defender; the degree of how good I really don't know yet – he's still young. There's not any reason why he won't be a good defender though.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is the Georgia commit anything for Yankee fans to be concerned about?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, no, no, we expect to sign him; he's excited about being a professional. I think he let people know that he wants to be a professional baseball player and get his career started. That's another part of his great makeup – he's not one of those guys that hems and haws about "well, if it's right", if it's this, if it's that. He is the type that says "I want to play. I'm ready to play, and I want to get to the big leagues as fast as I can." So that's the makeup that we see in him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I remember you telling me something similar about Bryan Mitchell back in the 2009 draft. Is that particular attitude something you place tremendous value in?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, well it's a part of the puzzle that we put together on each guy, but it's not the biggest part. The biggest part is his potential to become the big league player that we see in him, along with his makeup. I think that attitude goes hand in hand with the makeup that we were just talking about. He wants to go, get started, and his sights are set on being a Major League baseball player, and a good one. It's not about just getting drafted and all the other stuff, he's got a different mindset. Some guys have a makeup that tells them "I hope I get drafted", or "I hope I get drafted early", but for Dante it's all about the future and being a big leaguer.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is the process like between tonight and tomorrow morning before the draft resumes at noon? The stereotypical image is of phones ringing off the hook throughout the night, but is that just a cliché? Are you just preparing your board waiting for things to start up?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, we're preparing our board, but there are tons of phone calls. We're talking to all of our scouts and things like that. We've got business we need to take care of tonight and tomorrow morning, so tomorrow is a long day for us.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 1 down, 49 to go – how much sleep will you get tonight?
Damon Oppenheimer: I don't know…we'll find out soon enough. [laughs]