Q&A With Allan Simpson from Baseball America

PinstripesPlus.com recently did a Q&A session with Baseball America draft guru, Allan Simpson. Find out who Allan thinks is the "sleeper" of the Yankees draft, who is the most intriguing draft-and-follow prospect from this year's draft, and which pitcher not named Philip Hughes has the highest upside. PinstripesPlus Club Members can find out this and much more right now!

PinstripesPlus: How would you rate the Yankees' draft this season in comparison to the other teams, and why?

Simpson: It helped that the Yankees had a couple of extra picks, but I thought their draft stacked up with almost any team. It certainly was their best draft in a number of years.

PinstripesPlus: Six of the first seven draft picks selected by the Yankees were used on right-handed pitchers, including their first pick, Philip Hughes. We've all heard the comparisons to Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens. How would you compare Hughes to these two pitchers and is he already the top Yankees' pitching prospect as far as potential?

Simpson: Those aren't unfair comparisons, though Hughes obviously has a long way to go. He's a big power pitcher in the mold of Schilling and Clemens. He has extremely fluid mechanics and an uncanny feel for pitching--for a high school player. His command is exceptional and he walked only three in 61 innings this spring.

PinstripesPlus: Aside from Hughes, which of the pitchers selected in this year's draft intrigues you the most and why? Do any of them have front-end of the rotation type ability?

Simpson: Chis Garcia is probably the most intriguing. He was primarily a catcher until this year but his high school coach, Lazor Collazo, formerly the pitching coash at the University of Miami, saw more upside in him as a pitcher and converted him. He's already touched the mid-90s and could reach 97-98 with mechanical adjustments.

PinstripesPlus: Who is the biggest "sleeper" pitching prospect drafted and why? Who has the highest upside among the pitching prospects aside from Hughes and Marquez and why?

Simpson: Mike Martinez. He was drafted by the Yankees a year ago as a pitcher--even though he had seldom pitched in his career at Cal State Fullerton. Rather than sign with the Yankees, he went to the Great Lakes (summer collegiate) League in Ohio and learned to become a pitcher. He became an important part of the Fullerton rotation this spring and pitched a shutout in NCAA regional play, just a day before the Yankees drafted him again. As a fifth-year senior, the Yankees controlled his rights from the 2003 draft but couldn't sign him because his team was still alive when the draft was held. So they just redrafted him--36 rounds earlier than a year ago.

PinstripesPlus: How good is John Poterson? He's obviously well built. How much power projection does he have and who does he compare to at the Major League level? Will the Yankees keep him at catcher in your opinion, or will he have to be shifted to another position?

Simpson: Poterson's best tool is his power. He had some of the best power potential in the draft, though you don't see his power in games yet as you do in batting practice. His catching skills are a little suspect, but he's athletic enough to move to the outfield. I would guess the Yankees will start him behind the plate and let him play himself off the position. But his bat will play anywhere. I'd compare him to Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney, who was drafted as a catcher but had the big bat that allowed him to move to first base.

PinstripesPlus: Which of the "Day Two" draftees has the most potential in your opinon and why?

Simpson: Most of the second-day drafts (rounds 19 on) are draft-and-follow types who the Yankees have no intent of signing this summer but will watch their progress over the next year. The obvious name in the bunch is Matt Harrington, who was drafted for the fifth time after not signing in 2000 when he was the top high school player in the draft. His skills have eroded since then as he has played only in independent leagues but there is still some upside. I understand he was pitching fairly well in the independent Central League just before the Yankees drafted him, with his velocity in the low 90s.

PinstripesPlus: Do the Yankees currently have any intriguing draft-and-follow prospects that we should keep an eye on this season? And which of those players intrigue you the most?

Simpson: The Yankees like to target junior college players in Texas and almost half their draft-and-follow picks come from that state. Area scout Mark Batchko has a strong reputation for finding talent. But I think the most intriguing draft-and-follow may be lefthander Patrick Caldwell, a 22nd-rounder from Yavapai (Ariz.) JC. He reminds a lot of scouts of C.C. Sabathia, both with his stuff and body type. He's a big kid who added a lot of velocity this year once he lost about 40 pounds. He can also swing the bat pretty, which Sabathia could do in high school.

PinstripesPlus: Looking at the hitting prospects the Yankees drafted, who in your opinion has the highest upside and why? Who is the biggest hitting "sleeper" in their draft?

Simpson: Poterson, because of his power potential. As for sleeper, I'd look at Yosvany Almario-Cabrera. He's a Cuban defector who bounced around Miami before ending up in junior college this year. No one's sure how old he is, but most think he's 24. He can really swing the bat, but his age and lack of position and experience may work against him.

PinstripesPlus: Considering the Yankees do not have the greatest assembly of pitching prospects prior to this draft, in your opinion, have the Yankees replenished their pitching on the farm with this draft? And how much does this 2004 draft improve the Yankees farm system in comparison to the other teams in the league?

Simpson: The Yankees have gone a long way to replenishing the pitching in their system. That's obviously what they targeted and it was a draft that was really deep in pitching. It's probably too early to tell yet how much this has improved the Yankees in relation to other farm systems.

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