PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to Matthew Borens, listed at 6-foot-7. He's obviously big. What kind of stuff does he have?
Damon Oppenheimer: I kind of first saw him last year when we were following Team USA. He was pitching for, I think it was Wilson in the Coastal Plains League when they were doing their tour through North Carolina. He started against Team USA. Obviously he attracts you because of his size and the way his arm worked, and his delivery. He showed good stuff. He showed some velocity with his fastball. It was up to 94 mph and he got some swing and miss against those guys which were pretty good hitters. He pitched well and then pitched well through the fall and through the spring, and it's kind of a college guy that you think has some ceiling and projection to him. More stuff is going to come once he comes here and starts playing in better weather consistently. With our pitching [coaches] we've got a shot at a projectable college guy and we've had some guys like that who have turned out to be pretty good I think.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about Chris Gittens and Bo Thompson, the two first basemen you selected in consecutive rounds. How are their games different?
Oppenheimer: We went after guys that bring size and power but both of these guys are good hitters too. Gittens at the JC level has showed us an ability to hit, use the whole field, and hit balls out not just to the pull side. You look at him first and say he's a big power guy but I actually think it's a little bit hit over power first with good raw power to go with it. He can swing the bat. We have a thing with our scouts, telling them give us your 'gut feel' guy that you want not at the very top part of the draft, and we actually had two of our scouts, the area guy and then one other area guy that went in and saw him, and he was a 'gut feel' guy for both of them. That weighed a lot into our thinking of getting Chris where we took him. With Bo, Bo's strong. He's ultra-strong. He obviously has huge raw power if you saw him in that home run derby last year; 460 [feet] on some of the home runs he launched. Two things that stand out with him -- it's not just raw power, it's power and the ability to walk which is pretty big for us. We've gotten into that direction where if we can combine those two things we might have a shot at something. Both of them need work defensively for sure and we've got guys who can teach defense pretty well over here.
PinstripesPlus.com: I've got to ask about right-hander Sean Carley because being from the Air Force Academy originally, he just screams high makeup. He just seems like one of those guys you don't want to bet against, no?
Oppenheimer: Yeah and I think that's exactly what our guys saw. In the fall when [Scott] Lovecamp still had the area he saw him throwing hard. Right out of the chute they go out west and we see him having quality stuff. We really liked what we saw. He's big and strong as a starter. I think the guy just didn't have a lot of innings and he just wore down as the season went on. We think we got a pretty good one in Carley in this spot. I think he's got some toughness, some makeup, and you're not going to want to bet against this guy. There might be starter ceiling. Obviously it looks like it could be reliever but he's got quality stuff and he's a big, strong guy. In this part of the draft this is where we've had some success taking these kinds of guys.
PinstripesPlus.com: Left-hander Andrew Chin has some interesting back-stories, being a former earlier round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school and already having Tommy John surgery.
Oppenheimer: We think he is just starting to come around. He's going to pitch a little bit in the Cape [Cod League] so we can get some more looks at him. We saw him towards the end at Boston College -- as you know the schedule up there was just brutal trying to see guys. I think by the end of the year he was starting to show what he could be, what he might be. We saw him against Clemson [University] have a really good game. Where we took him we're banking on it starting to continue to improve from that point. He's left-handed, he was touching 92 mph that day, spinning the ball well, and there's some projection there. With the surgery he had right out of high school he could be starting to come into his own again.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to right-hander Garrett Gave, only your second pick out of high school among the first 20 rounds. The scouting reports suggest there's a ceiling here but that he's really raw. Is he as raw as the scouting reports say he is?
Oppenheimer: He's got work to do, that's for sure, but I wouldn't call him crude, I wouldn't call him raw. He is just starting to mature physically and the stuff was good. He's had some inconsistencies as most high school kids do with command, but he came into our workout and he threw real well. Hopefully we're going to get to make a run at getting him signed.
PinstripesPlus.com: Is there a guy currently in the farm system that you can kind of compare him to? He sounds a little Joey Maher-like, no?
Oppenheimer: It kind of stinks to have to compare him to Joey just because Joey hasn't really been able to pitch much because of health and stuff. If it were a healthy Joey Maher you could see that, it would be easier to make that comp.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk Justin Kamplain -- what did you see from him?
Oppenheimer: Kamplain we saw him pretty good in the SEC where he was getting swing and miss, he's left-handed, and worst case looked lik he could develop into a guy who gets a lot of lefties out. He's got a good breaking ball. We saw him perform well and get strikeouts with the curveball. The fastball was anywhere from 88-92 mph. He's not a huge guy but a pretty successful guy.
PinstripesPlus.com: What about Derek Callahan, another left-handed pitcher?
Oppenheimer: Callahan was one of Mike Thurman's gut-feel guys. He had seen him really well in the fall, he had seen him since high school, he was on the same high school team as Bubba Jones, so we had a long history with him. He went to Gonzaga as a position player and this fall he threw well. The velocity was good. Mike saw him pitching at 91-94 mph in the fall. He came out of the chute and didn't throw real well out of the chute, and got to a spot where he was a little bit buried over there. They just didn't use him much for whatever reason. He came down and worked out for us before the draft and we saw potential there with size, arm strength, left-handed, and saw him as a guy who our guys could really turn around and develop. He's obviously a pretty fresh arm so once again we're hoping it's one of those late developing, projectable college guys that comes from the northwest that has a lot more left in the tank.
PinstripesPlus.com: What about Porter Clayton, another left-handed pitcher? He's an interesting guy since he didn't pitch for two years while on his mission. He would seem to have some upside to him, no?
Oppenheimer: We didn't see him a ton this year either. The idea is that we're going to watch him pitch this summer and see if we can make a run at him. If he pitches well and shows us a little bit of the things that we saw in short spurts we might again have something that's a college guy who age-wise might be a little older but still has a lot of room for improvement.
PinstripesPlus.com: Moving on to Joe Harvey, is he a starter for you guys or is he a bullpen guy?
Oppenheimer: Harvey is another one of those guys as a college starter we've seen pitch at 89-92 mph, maybe bump a 93, with the ability to command his fastball. Does that guy turn into something that's a little more, even better as a reliever? Those kinds of guys with pitch-ability because they can command their fastball, you take them and maybe eventually put them in the bullpen and everything jumps up a notch. That's what happened to [Branden] Pinder, it happened with [James] Pazos, that type of deal.
PinstripesPlus.com: What about Corey Holmes? He was a closer in college this year. Is he strictly bullpen material going forward?
Oppenheimer: I think with Holmes, obviously in his college career he's bounced around. He ends up at a smaller school as a closer and our scout down there, Bryan Reese who is a new scout for us, he saw him coming out of the pen and bumping 96s. We think we're getting a college reliever that's got a big arm. Hopefully we can develop some of the other stuff.
PinstripesPlus.com: Moving on to Jake Kelzer, he's another one of these big, tall right-handed hurlers you landed, standing 6-foot-8. He's a sophomore though -- signability case here I'm assuming, right?
Oppenheimer: Yeah we're going to give it a shot to try and see if we can get something done here. Mike Gibbons liked him. He wasn't always the easiest guy to see at Indiana but the guy's got a pretty good slider. He gets swings and misses with it. He's a unique athlete in that he was a swimmer. We don't usually get that crossover too much. On top of the stuff that 'Gibs saw he also came out pretty far ahead from our analytics guys. Hopefully we can make a run at that and see if we can sign him, but it might be a little tough.
PinstripesPlus.com: Will Toffey, another Salisbury School guy like DeCarr, let's talk about his game before we discuss signability.
Oppenheimer: He can hit. He's another unique two-sport athlete because this guy is a really good hockey player. He could have gone to Yale University on a full [ride] for hockey. If he wouldn't have signed on to Vandy for baseball he's definitely an NHL Draft [candidate]. He's a really good two-sport athlete. We saw him a lot last summer in [Matt] Hyde's team. He came to the Area Codes, we saw him at the Mets' Classic, and he's got real good hand-eye coordination to hit. He's got power. He played shortstop there but we project him as a corner guy. This one's one of those -- it's going to be a stretch to get him. But you never know, a guy might have a change of heart. Maybe something happens, he buys into really wanting to be a Yankee. The guy is a quality bat guy from the left side and as the season went on he really showed some pop in his bat.
PinstripesPlus.com: Are you hoping he and Decarr being friends might sway him over?
Oppenheimer: I don't think that part is an issue. We've know Will for a long time because of having him on our teams and stuff. It will be his own call. You know you get to a point in the draft where you want to take some guys that you feel are high-ceiling guys [whose] signability is tough but you never know if they'll change their minds. That's where Will was here. He's got deluxe makeup, he's a grinder, he's a worker, he's got a tough mentality from being a hockey guy. At this point [in the draft] it was well worth a shot.
PinstripesPlus.com: Dominic Jose, the Stanford kid and son of a former big leaguer, he seems to fit into that ceiling mold you're talking about among your college picks.
Oppenheimer: He's probably a little bit different than the rest of our crew we took this year in terms of production. I think most of the hitters we took were, if you looked at them numerically, they really had production. Dominic's one of those guys that we've seen since high school hit and miss. There's times you go and see him and he looks like he could be a star. And then there's times you go and the tools aren't matching up to production. But that being said, you try to mix your draft up with a few different guys and Dominic is one of those types of guys - he goes to Stanford so he's got some intelligence to him, he's got athleticism, he's got tools, he can run, he's got some raw power -- he just needs to play. We need to sign him, give him consistent at-bats, and see what we've got here.
PinstripesPlus.com: Right-hander Dylan Barrow, right there in your backyard from the University of Tampa, what can you tell me about him?
Oppenheimer: He's a real interesting one because he didn't pitch this year at the University of Tampa. His grades were what they were but he didn't pitch. Jeff Dierdorf saw him in the fall at 92-94 mph and was looking forward to seeing him. We kept him on the back-burner and then through the assistance of our analytics guys helping, they followed what he's been doing in the Northwoods League. He started off real well again with strikeouts, velocity -- we haven't been up there yet but there's reports that he's running it up to 96 mph so we're going to be on that one real quick to see what we've got. Hopefully it's a guy where we've found a sleeper.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about Mariano Rivera Jr. because everyone is talking about it, about how he was a 'favor' draft pick. Your comment?
Oppenheimer: The interesting part is I've never spoken to Mariano senior about his son. So this wasn't something about him being Mariano Rivera and being a former Yankee, this is about a kid we've seen since, I think 15-years old playing against Hanks' Yanks down here where he was very skinny, very young looking, and probably throwing 84-86 mph. He's progressed now to where, he was at our workout in Staten Island and he was running it up to 92 mph, easy delivery, easy arm action, he's starting to fill out a little bit. He's not huge still but he's starting to get enough man strength now where it's starting to come around. He showed fastball command. I texted him the other day after he pitched up in the New England Collegiate League -- he had a good line where he got some strikeouts -- we're going to go up there and get some more looks at him. It was tough to see him this year because Iona is a tough place to get to this year with the weather. He's still projectable, he's athletic, and we'll see what we got. It looks like he's on the right track to developing.
PinstripesPlus.com: So this wasn't a 'favor' pick?
Oppenheimer: Favors go on for teams in the late 30s, not for us. It's been told to me numerous times that we don't do favor drafts. Even with [Joshua] Pettitte last year, we really think Pettitte's kid can be something. Both of those guys are projectable big league pitchers, it's just are they ready? Is it time? I think with Mariano [junior] it looks like it's starting to turn the corner at the right time for us.
PinstripesPlus.com: Let's go a little rapid fire here -- just give me your impressions of each guy; catcher Colin Slaybaugh?
Oppenheimer: The thing with Slaybaugh is we're getting an athlete. We're going to have him catch but it's a unique deal where he caught and played some centerfield at Washington State. He can run, he's athletic, swings the bat, so again Mike Thurman saw him catch in the fall. He thinks the guy can catch and when you get an athlete behind the plate good things can possibly happen. He can already swing the bat against good competition so it's not like you're buying somebody who is raw with the bat. It's just a matter of getting him with our catching guys and are damn good at improving catch and throw. This is a good sleeper guy for us too that could turn out to be alright.
PinstripesPlus.com: Griffin Gordon?
Oppenheimer: He's a corner outfielder that we like the bat. We'll see what happens moving forward but we like the bat. Our scout there, Darryl Monroe, thinks the guy can hit, has seen him hit, seen him turn around good fastballs, so we liked what we saw there. Obviously it hasn't been huge power on the corner but maybe that's something that can come on late like power does.
PinstripesPlus.com: Right-handed pitcher Lee Casas?
Oppenheimer: He didn't pitch at SC this year but he worked out for us a couple of times. He's a huge guy. It's a huge right-handed pitcher with a great body that will run it up 92-93 mph. He's a development project for us there.
PinstripesPlus.com: Jorge Perez, another right-handed pitcher?
Oppenheimer: He's a guy who we're going to see if he's healthy. That was a guy we really liked early from Grand Canyon early in the year but he got dinged up so we're going to see what we have in terms of health with him. He had good stuff, that was the thing. Before he got hurt it was a fastball that was 90-94 mph with a good breaking ball and a guy who threw strikes. It was just too bad for him that he got hurt this year.
PinstripesPlus.com: Outfielder Devyn Bolasky?
Oppenheimer: He can play the outfield. He can play centerfield, he's a good defender in centerfield. He swung the bat pretty good for those guys [University of California-Riverside]. He's not going to be an overly huge tool guy but he can run a little bit, he can play center, and he was a productive bat.
PinstripesPlus.com: Jordan Ramsey, another right-handed pitcher?
Oppenheimer: He had a blister problem most of the year so he's going to go pitch in the Cape. But again he's a guy we saw in the fall that showed us arm strength, running it up 92-93 mph, so now we just need to see what he's got after so much trouble with blisters.
PinstripesPlus.com: David Graybill, another right-handed pitcher?
Oppenheimer: He's an interesting one because he didn't get much at Arizona State but our guys saw him early in that California Collegiate League and he touched 95 mph. He's an athlete, he comes from some stock from a dad who played at Arizona State, we had interest in him out of high school, so we're going to watch him pitch for Santa Barbara out there and see if that stuff holds up and becomes consistent. He's got some ceiling to him.
PinstripesPlus.com: Another right-handed pitcher, Matt Wotherspoon?
Oppenheimer: He's a guy we saw a few times at Pitt and pitched well. He pitched real well against [the University of] Virginia, held velocity of 92 mph into the seventh inning -- I'm thinking the same thing Patrick where he's a college starter who has some fastball command where you possibly turn him into a reliever and everything takes a step up.
PinstripesPlus.com: What about Chris Hudgins, the catcher out of high school?
Oppenheimer: He can hit. We've had him on our Yankee scout team and just kept getting better and better. He's going to Cal State-Fullerton but we're going to watch him play this summer and he has the chance to be an offensive catcher. I think he kind of went under the radar out there but we saw him in the fall in Peoria, Arizona, the showcase out there -- there were a lot of good hitters out there, some of those big name guys, and he performed just as well as anybody, hitting line drives all over the park. We'll see what we have with him.
PinstripesPlus.com: Right-handed pitcher, Andre Del Bosque?
Oppenheimer: He's probably the first ever player taken from the University of Houston-Victoria. Our guy happened to see him throw where he touched 95 mph. He's a good sized guy with some velocity. He's a development project for us.
PinstripesPlus.com: First baseman Cameron Warren out of high school?
Oppenheimer: He's probably going to be a tough sign but we like the bat and felt it was another one worthwhile taking. Matt Ramson really wanted to draft him and follow him to see if we could talk to him this summer and see what happens at the end.
PinstripesPlus.com: Madison Stokes, the high school shortstop?
Oppenheimer: He's a guy who obviously fell a long way but he's a guy who plays shortstop, has good size, who needs to get stronger but is a good player. It's a summer follow but it will be tough to keep him away from [the University of] South Carolina.
Post-Draft Q&A with Damon Oppenheimer - Pt. 2
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