Yankees Draft Day Preview

Monday, June 7th is marked on the calendar as a big day for Yankee fans, especially this time around. With a draft that is loaded with star pitching and some solid position players, the New York Yankees have a golden opportunity to greatly revitalize a presently very weak farm system. There is a lot to choose from in this year's draft to help them on their path to improvement. Who might be on the Yankee wish list for draft day? Let's take a look at the answer to that question right now.

The complaints, the questions, the worries and the displeasure has increasingly surrounded the Yankee farm system for more than a couple years now. Due to trades for big stars, top prospects fizzling out and what some say failed draft days of the past, the Yankee farm now possesses very few legit prospects. The Yankees have had bad luck on draft days in the past on a fair share of occasions until their luck seemed to change last year with the draft of now top prospect Eric Duncan. However, in 2002, they had no 1st round pick at all, 2001 nabbed them the since dealt John Ford-Griffin, 2000 landed them the little known David Parrish and another unknown, Danny Walling was taken in 1999. Despite their past draft failures and the fact that they have not developed a successful starting pitcher since Andy Pettitte, this year could be the perfect time to turn it all around. With four early round picks in this year's draft (23rd, 37th, 41st, 42nd), the New York Yankees appear to be primed to reload with some new additions to their farm system in working towards their future.

So, with Mark Newman back at the helm and set to get down to business in the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft, who might be on the wish list of the Yankees? In the past, the Yankees have look towards the more polished college players but have never had the type of opportunity like this year to choose early and often. The radar screen is wide open for them this year and the Yankee scouts including Jerry Krause have been scouring the country, searching for the future of the New York Yankees.

Draft Options for 23rd Pick

In a fairly high section, the Yankees should have some very good options and people around baseball are more than convinced that the Yankees will be pursuing a pitcher. With a high slot, the Yankees project to get at the very worst a quality starter to sure up their crop of pitching prospects.

1.) Phil Hughes. This dominating high school pitcher appears to be the Yankees number one man on their radar screen. Hughes is an overpowering 17 year old righthander out of Foothill High School in California with a 95 MPH fastball, a devastating slider and a solid changeup. He has become well known for his freakish control and unmatched composure on the mound. There are teams swarming all over Hughes, but most notably the Yankees. However, there is a great possibility that things will change and that this highly considered, future Roger Clemens could land anywhere as low as 12th but he still seems to be the Yankees most logical pick.

2.) Jay Rainville. In very similar fashion to Phil Hughes, Jay Rainville is considered as a true, pure power pitcher of the future and that he could end up being the next Curt Schilling, whom he has been compared to on several occasions. Rainville is an incredible strikeout pitcher with a fastball near 95MPH. He may also be long gone depending on how the draft pans out. Depending on the strategy that the New York Yankee organization will plan on using entering this draft, the question is often asked, will they go for high risk, high reward options or for the high performance, solid result. Rainville would be a higher risk but ultimately could be the better result with the potential he has.

3.) Zach Jackson. Now, here is the perfect example of the Yankees going for the conservative style of draft. Zach Jackson is a lefthanded pitcher out of Texas A&M. Jackson would be a safe pick under the Mark Newman style of draft. He has a good curveball with a solid changeup to go along with a low 90's fastball to fill out a solid repertoire. Jackson is highly thought to be a very strong option for the Yankees but it is also possible that a team like the Toronto Blue Jays who have a tendency at taking college players under the "Moneyball" philosophy also will make a run at Jackson.

Draft Options for 37th Pick

1.) Taylor Tankersley. Here is a another college pitcher that is a highly considerable option for the New York Yankees out of the University of Alabama. However, he is a pitcher that has only skyrocketed his value in the months leading up to the draft. Tankersley has forced himself into the Crimson Tide starting rotation and has become their ace. "Tank" is known for his bulldog presence and approach as he comes right after the hitters. The lefty has a slider, a changeup and a fastball to solidify a very nasty repertoire. Taylor Tankersley is a prospect that it is not easy to tell exactly where he will land in the draft as a result of his late surge. But, it seems very likely that he would be an option at the 37th slot.

2.) Greg Golson. This young high school outfielder is considered to be a viable option for the Yankees at the 37th spot as a possible five too type of player. Golson has a strong arm on the outfield with excellent range. Greg Golson is most known for his tremendous speed and gets down to first base in about 3.8 seconds flat. His power hitting ability is still under some questions but overall his skills warrant a high selection in this year's draft. The Yankees have had a very close eye on him and could nab him on June 7th.

3.) Gio Gonzalez. As in comparison to the initial draft projections, the value of Gio Gonzalez has plummeted. He was originally thought of as a sure fire pick for the middle of the first round. Either way, he has drawn attention from the New York Yankees and could end up as a steal for them at the 37th overall pick in the draft. Gonzalez is a stocky lefthander with a fastball in the low 90's to go along with a devastating, hammer type of curveball. Gio was thrown off his high school team near the end of this year due to an argument between his parents and the coach. There is still no denying his talent and the pick might be well worth the risk for the Yankees to consider on this draft day.

Draft Options for 41st & 42nd Picks

1.) Matt Tuiasosopo. When some fans hear the story behind Matt Tuiasosopo, they cringe in the memory of Drew Henson. Yes, Tuiasosopo is a two sport star in football and baseball. He is a star high school player but has publicly said that if he is selected in the first three rounds of the MLB Draft that he will strongly considering signing. Many teams have shied away from his just for this reason but the Yankees seem willing to take the gamble on either their 41st or 42nd pick. Yankee scout has been spotted scouting Tuiasosopo "religiously". The Yankees are the team that the majority of the baseball world thinks will land him as George Steinbrenner's infatuation with football/baseball players continues.

2.) Grant Johnson. Once again, this would be natural pick for the Yankee scouting and drafting regime of years past but the questions is, will the trend continue? Johnson is in all probability the ace of the Notre Dame University pitching staff. However, the bad part of it is that Johnson is coming off major arm surgery and many teams have become soured on selecting him anywhere near the first round. But, the Yankees have shown serious interest, knowing that when healthy, he can be dominant.

3.) Matt Fox. Matt Fox is another example of something that would normally occur under Mark Newman at the helm of the Yankee Draft. On May 25, Matt Fox was named the Atlantic Sun Pitcher-of-the-Year at the University of Central Florida. He has good stuff and might be a good selection out of this 42nd spot if he is still available.

What to Expect. Well, the New York Yankees are one of the few teams in Major League baseball that have not tipped their hand whatsoever on what they plan to do in this year's draft. This year, they are taking it very seriously and even George Steinbrenner has gotten involved in the hopes to rebuild his sometimes ridiculed farm system. As of now, it is obvious and assumed that the Yankees will go very pitching heavy. Look for them to go for the high risk, high reward picks in their first pick but go for college pitchers later on. But the draft is a secretive thing for the Yankees and it could twist in many different ways.

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