We sat down with Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to discuss picks six through fifteen.

PinstripesPlus.com checks in with Yankees Vice President of Scouting Damon Oppenheimer for a Q&A session. In part two of our three-part series, he talks about picks six through fifteen in the 2016 draft, how high each player's upside really is, who can move quickly, and much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to sixth round pick Brooks Kriske.  You guys have had a lot of success here in recent drafts picking up these college arms in the sixth round or later area -- Nick Goody, Nick Rumbelow, etc -- does Kriske fit into that kind of mold?

Damon Oppenheimer: It's another guy that we got a lot of looks at and as the season went on and the stuff that we track the velocity jumped up to where he was up to 96 mph, he got the ball working downhill.  I think we're looking at one of those again that, like you said, we've had some success with.  That's what we go, we think we got ourselves a potential power arm guy with a good body.  He just got better as the season went on and he's got the chance to strike guys out.  It's a good fit and we've had some success in this area.

PinstripesPlus.com: Is he more Goody-Rumbelow or Chance Adams? Is he strictly a reliever type or does he have the chance to start?

Oppenheimer: Well I try not to put my foot in my mouth with something like that because I probably thought Chance Adams was a reliever and it looks like our player development guys have done a great job with him and converting him into a starter.  I'll let those guys decide once they see him. 

PinstripesPlus.com: What's the book on catcher Keith Skinner?

Oppenheimer: When we get a chance to get a left-handed hitting catcher it's something that pans out for us.  We like him tool-wise, we like the way he swings the bat, his ability to walk more than he strikes out, contact oriented left-handed hitting catcher who is a good catcher with an average to above average arm -- he led that league in hitting, he does some stuff that checks a lot of boxes in terms of physical ability and performance-wise, and he's got makeup that we really like. 

PinstripesPlus.com: I'm not going to ask you to make the comparison but for me he reminds me so much of a left-handed hitting Kevin Plawecki, the Mets' backup catcher.  Do you see that?

Oppenheimer: The same thing again, I'm not the greatest with making these comparisons so I'm not going to go down that road but he is a guy who can swing the bat very well from the left side who has the makeup and ability to catch.

PinstripesPlus.com: You mentioned you like getting the left-handed bats and you took another one a pick later in Dalton Blaser, the first baseman from Cal State Fullerton.  What's the book on him?

Oppenheimer: It's the same thing.  These guys from Cal-State Fullerton seem to find a way.  Guys perform there.  They come from a good program, they learn how to play the game the right way, they play for a tough coach who demands the most out of them, and this guy performs.  This guy can hit and I think if he had played the corner outfield spot all year he might have gone a bit higher in the draft but we think he's got the ability to play a corner outfield, swing the bat, and get some power profile.

PinstripesPlus.com: So you see him more as an outfielder and less as a first baseman?

Oppenheimer: We'd like to see that.  We think he can do both but I think we'd like to see him play a bit more outfield, at least to start with.

PinstripesPlus.com: That was going to be my next question anyway because you took first baseman Tim Lynch there in the very next round.  Is Lynch a true first baseman or is he too a candidate to move to the outfield as well?

Oppenheimer: No this one plays first [base], he's not going to the outfield.  This one is going to play first base.  We like the power, we like the fact that he's a pretty good hitter, and he's got the kind of stuff we're looking for in a corner profile.  It's a hit & power profile and we think he's got the chance to be a solid Major League player.

PinstripesPlus.com: What's the book on left-handed pitcher Trevor Lane who you snagged there in the tenth round?

Oppenheimer: Lemke, our area guy up there in Chicago, he's the kind of guy who hits on his guys.  The fact that the last time we saw this guy he was a left-hander touching 94-95 mph, a lefty with some power from that side, we think we've got the chance here for a power reliever from the left side and that's a pretty decent [get] at this part in the draft.  .

PinstripesPlus.com: What about the Connor Jones, the lefty out of the University of Georgia you picked up in the very next round?

Oppenheimer: He's been a starter there at Georgia.  We think the guy has good stuff, he's a performer in the SEC, he has a 90-94 mph fastball, a hard curveball, etc.  He hasn't throw a lot of great strikes throughout his career so it's been tough to get a good look at him but he's shown improvement this year and especially in the second half this year, and we stayed on him.  He's got some good movement on his fastball so again, left-handed in this part of the draft with that kind of movement and velocity was too good to pass up.  We think it's a good shot here.

PinstripesPlus.com: I know we don't have the time to discuss every pick you guys made but let's do some quick-hitters on 12th round pick Taylor Widener and Brian Trieglaff, the two right-handed pitchers from the University of South Carolina and TCU respectively?

Oppenheimer: Widener from South Carolina is a bullpen guy with high velocity.  He's a big, strong guy and the velocity has been really good.  He's been up to 96, 97 mph.  With him we're hoping we're going to get a bullpen guy.  He's got an average breaking ball and he's got high strikeouts per nine [innings], and his walks keep coming down.  We think there's a pretty good chance that this guy can become a pretty good reliever for us.  With Brian [Trieglaff], he's a reliever again.  He's got slightly above average stuff, a good performance history, 90-94 mph fastball with life, and he seems to be able to miss bats.  He's got a hard downward slider and we think there's some potential angle change for him, get him back to high three-quarter, and he might have some more production [as a result]. 

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to Jordan Scott from IMG, the switch-hitting centerfielder.  What's the book on him?

Oppenheimer: He's very athletic.  We were trying to get into the athlete pool here.  He's got a great body, he can play centerfield, he's got a plus arm, and he can really run.  We're talking about a 6.5/6.6 60-yard [dash] guy.  He's got a good swing [too] and we've got to get him to where he's making better contact.  I think he's kind of a late-bloomer.  He's going to need at-bats and we're just going to have to improve contact so he can use that speed.  He's got strength too so this is a ceiling guy.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's discuss Tony Hernandez, the left-handed pitcher from community college you drafted in the 15th round.

Oppenheimer: We talked about him all year and then we had him for the workouts before the draft in Staten Island.  He's left-handed, he's got the kind of body that has the potential to get stronger.  The strength and conditioning program can help him quite a bit.  We've see him where he's 89-94 mph from the left side and he's got a now curveball.  I don't know, we'll see what we have completely but he's got the chance in this area of the draft to come on [and develop] for us.


Pinstripes Plus Top Stories