Class Of 2003 Update

The Yankees had a rather productive draft in 2003, and selected some fine players to help breathe some life into their deflated farm system. They took mostly high-school position players and college pitchers, and a few of these kids just might have what it takes to make it. Come inside, where I'll bring you up to date on how the Yankees' draft class of 2003 did in their professional debuts.

Players are organized by the round they were taken in.  When a round is skipped, it's because the player chosen in that round didn't play this season (with one notable exception at the end).  I also skipped fifth-round pick Cory Stuart, who only pitched two innings this season.  So without further adieu...

1. Eric Duncan, 3B
Duncan was the first-round pick of the Yankees and they were thrilled to get him.  Most scouts predicted Duncan to go much higher than he did (27th overall), so when he was still on the board for the Yanks, they jumped on him.  Duncan is a highly-skilled player that has drawn comparisons to Chipper Jones for his batting style.  He had a very good first year as a pro, and put up solid numbers for someone who was just 18 years old.  Duncan will probably start the 2004 season at Battle Creek, unless the Yankees want to push him ahead to Tampa.

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

Gulf Coast 

.278

180

12

2

28

24

0

18

33

.348

.400

Staten Island

.373

59

5

2

13

11

1

2

11

.413

.695

2. Estee Harris, OF
Of the Yankees' 2003 picks, Harris might have the highest ceiling.  Scouts rave about Harris' abilities and instincts, and MLB.com called him a "special kid in everyway."  Harris showed very good power in his first pro season in the Gulf Coast League.  He hit six homeruns and seven doubles in just 101 at bats.  He has a quick batting stroke and doesn't strike out too much.  Keep an eye on this 18-year-old, who will probably begin 2004 at Battle Creek.

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

Gulf Coast 

.277

101

7

6

18

18

4

14

28

.368

.545

3. Timothy Battle, OF
MLB.com tagged Battle as an "impact player" when the Yankees drafted him in the third round, but Battle had a poor showing in his first season as a pro.  His strikeout rate wasn't terrible, so he's putting the ball in play.  But his slugging numbers suggest that he isn't hitting it with any authority.  Battle does have speed going for him and, at 18, still has plenty of time to develop.  Look for Battle to go to Staten Island in 2004.

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

Gulf Coast 

.208

106

5

0

5

14

5

7

33

.270

.255

7. Jose Perez, OF
Perez struggled to consistently make contact in his first year as a pro, but his eye at the plate shows excellent promise.  Like the other players mentioned so far, Perez is an 18-year-old taken right out of high school.  He's got good speed, a good arm, and plays good defense.  Most scouts believe that Perez' power will develop with time, but it certainly didn't show itself in the GCL this season.  Perez' high walk rate is what impresses me the most. 30 walks in just 41 games is an impressive number.  If he can make contact more consistently, he could have a future.  

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

Gulf Coast 

.189

122

3

0

10

16

5

30

40

.353

.213

9. Tyler Clippard, RHP
Clippard passed up college to sign with the Yankees, and he looked excellent in his first season.  He possesses a high-80's fastball, as well as a curveball and good changeup.  His strikeout-to-walk ratio for the GC Yanks was a ridiculous 11.2 and his K/9 rate was 11.5.  Clippard's early numbers show he has excellent potential.  Look for him in Battle Creek next season.

Team

ERA

IP

H

BB

SO

K:BB K/9

Gulf Coast

2.89

43.2

33

5

56

11.2

11.5

10. T.J. Beam, RHP

T.J. Beam


Beam's claim to fame, aside from having a very cool name, is that he was once rated as having the third-best fastball in the SEC by Baseball America, and was also ranked 19th on BA's list of best seniors.  Beam is a huge player, standing in at 6'7" and 215 pounds.  He has the velocity to be successful, but needs to work on a consistent breaking pitch. He ended last season in Battle Creek but, since he is already 23, might start 2004 in Tampa.

 

Team

ERA

IP

H

BB

SO

K:BB K/9

Staten Island

2.70

33.1

25

9

31

3.4

8.4

11. Bryce Kartler, LHP

Bryce Kartler


Kartler is a converted outfielder that coincidentally attended the same high school as major-league superstar Curt Schilling.  Kartler's numbers at Arizona State University aren't impressive, but he is considered a project.  Left-handers with strikeout rates like this guy's aren't exactly common.  Kartler is difficult to hit, but he has trouble with wildness.  His walk rates are very high right now, and they'll need to come down before Kartler can be successful.

 

Team

ERA

IP

H

BB

SO

K:BB K/9

Staten Island

5.89

18.1

20

11

19

1.7

9.3

12. Brad Blackwell, RHP

Brad Blackwell


Blackwell was actually a standout football player and wrestler in high school, but he decided to stick to baseball in college.  He first attended Seminole State Junior College before transferring to North Carolina State University.  His first pro year was less than impressive, but his strikeout rate was very good.  He's probably headed to Staten Island for 2004.

 

 

Team

ERA

IP

H

BB

SO

K:BB K/9

Staten Island

4.79

20.2

20

13

22

1.7

9.6

13. Michael Gardner, RHP

Michael Gardner


Gardner was used as a closer in college and again for Staten Island last season.  He finished 18 of the 23 games he appeared in and notched five saves.  His ERA is pretty low given the rest of his numbers, but his walk rate improved from his final year in college.  If he maintains these peripherals, don't expect a 1.93 ERA however.  At 22, Gardner will probably start the year in Tampa in 2004.

 

Team

ERA

IP

H

BB

SO

K:BB K/9

Staten Island

1.93

37.1

31

11

29

2.6

7.0

14. Enrique Cruz, 2B
Cruz was a huge power threat in college, and posted a 1.021 OPS in his final year at Rice University.  He hasn't shown that power at all, however, in his first year in the minors.  Cruz hit no homeruns and only seven doubles for Staten Island this season.  So if Cruz' strength isn't his power, it could be his speed and ability to make contact.  He legged out four triples in 2003, and stole four bases.  Even more impressive was his strikeout to walk numbers, only 20 whiffs and 14 free passes.  Look for him in Tampa next season.

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

Staten Island 

.285

130

7

0

14

23

4

14

20

.363

.385

15. Elvys Quezada, RHP

Elvys Quezada


Quezada had an excellent rookie season for Staten Island in 2003, and earned himself a promotion to Battle Creek to finish out the year.  He combined for a 1.73 ERA with 49 strikeouts and a measley 28 hits allowed in 52 innings.  His walk numbers were a little on the high side, while in SI, and since hitters at the higher levels are more likely to hit him, he needs to bring down the walks to help keep the bases empty.  Quezada has a fastball that keeps around the low 90's on the radar gun, and a mid-80's hard slider.  He'll start 2004 at Tampa most likely.

 

Team

ERA

IP

H

BB

SO

K:BB K/9

Staten Island

1.83

39.1

23

20

39

1.8

8.9

Battle Creek 1.38 13.0 5 3 10 3.3 6.9

23. Joshua Smith, RHP
The Yankees actually drafted two Joshua Smiths this year.  The first one went in the 8th round, and this one went in the 23rd.  Neither player pitched in the minors next season, but this Smith may have been one of the steals of the draft.  Just 20 years old, Smith is 6'4" and a whopping 240 lbs.  All of that size translates into good velocity, which hovers around 90-92 mph but can reach speeds in the mid-upper 90's.  Smith also has a good slider with a late break.  Scouts love his arm, but they think he needs to develop an out pitch.  He'll probably start his pro career at Staten Island in 2004.

Team

ERA

IP

H

BB

SO

K:BB K/9

Central Arizona (College)

1.46

80.0

48

36

93

2.6

10.5

You can e-mail Mark Rubin by clicking here.


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