Post-Draft Q&A with Damon Oppenheimer

With the 2008 MLB Draft all over and done with, PinstripesPlus checks in with Yankees Vice President of Scouting Damon Oppenheimer for a Q&A session to talk about how he felt they did in the draft, how he feels about signing their high-ceiling selections, what they saw in Gerrit Cole, and much, much more!

PinstripesPlus.com: Overall, how happy were you with your draft when it was all said and done?

Damon Oppenheimer: Very happy. I think we've got the chance to put quite an amount into the system that's pretty interesting. You've got a chance for a big-time starting pitcher like [Gerrit] Cole, then we were able to come up with a left-handed starter with a guy like [Jeremy] Bleich who not everybody knows that much because he went down there in the middle of the season, but heck, he was a guy we really liked. Then you back that up with a guy who's close to the big leagues in the relief role like [Scott] Bittle, then you start putting some bats into the system, then some guys we took down the line that slipped for whatever reason that we drafted with all intents and purposes of signing them. I think we're looking at a real strong draft.

PinstripesPlus: There's a segment of the Yankee fan population that feels you guys were very conservative in this draft, that you didn't take high-ceiling players earlier in the draft. What would you say about that?

Oppenheimer: I'd like to know which players they were that we passed on that have high ceilings. I guess I haven't read everything out there, but I'm trying to figure out who these high-ceiling guys are that we passed on. That's the part that gets a little dangerous when it comes to blogs and Baseball America, people who don't actually get out there to see and look at players. If we thought there was a guy to take with a high ceiling that we thought was signable, we wouldn't have hesitated.

PinstripesPlus: I'm glad you brought up the blogs and Baseball America because Jeremy Bleich was a guy not on a lot of those people's lists and because of that, there's a segment of the Yankees fans who though Bleich was an over-draft or a reach in the supplemental round. What made you take him where you did and did his performance in the Cape Cod League the previous two seasons a big reason?

Oppenheimer: This guy has been on our radar screen since last year in the Cape and going into the season in his sophomore year at Stanford. We've been on this guy. We had good reports on him. The reports were so good on him that back in January I went out to Stanford and watched him pitch in an intrasquad game. That was the distinct reason for me to fly out all the way from the east coast to the west coast, it was to see him pitch. I guess left-handed and up to 92-93, people look around the big leagues and that's pretty damn good. He's got a plus curveball that he throws for strikes, he's got a plus changeup that he throws for strikes - I think we got ourselves a really good pick with this guy.

PinstripesPlus: There were some public questions regarding Gerrit Cole's makeup. What did you see in his makeup that maybe was misinterpreted by some as questionable makeup?

Oppeheimer: We saw a guy that competes his butt off out on the mound, he wears his emotions on his sleeve, and really gets after it. This is a guy who is very tenacious out there. Sometimes if people want to misconstrue that as makeup, so be it. For me, the makeup we saw was competitiveness makeup and a guy who wanted to win and beat the other team. We did our research on him. We had people we know visit with him, we talked to the coach, we did a lot of things. We didn't have any doubts that this guy was going to be a great competitor and have the makeup we're looking for.

PinstripesPlus: Everybody has heard about the power in his game, but what about his other pitches. What have you seen about the rest of his game?

Oppenheimer: He's got a big slurve that's kind of between a curveball and a slider, but it's got big break and power to it. The changeup kept coming and coming, and by the end of the season the last person to see him was Mark Newman, and Newman saw he had a plus changeup that he threw for strikes. We see him as a guy who is pretty advanced with his stuff and he's throwing strikes with it. He's a potential power starter and we couldn't pass that up.

PinstripesPlus: What are your thoughts on getting D.J. Mitchell there in the tenth round?

Oppenheimer: I'm really excited about it. He's another one who, if he pieces it all together, an athlete to strikes guys out - we've got something there. The huge fastball wasn't there but it's still projectable. He's got the chance to get better now that he's a full-time pitcher. He's got a real good slider and he strikes out really good hitters in that conference, and he did it in the Cape. I'm excited about getting him and hopefully we can get him signed.

PinstripesPlus: One guy most people are already intrigued by is Christopher Smith. Is his talent big enough that perhaps he could have been a first rounder had he gotten more exposure?

Oppenheimer: You know Chris Smith is a guy who people have seen. He plays in a conference where the level of competition there - it's not his fault - it's just not very good in that Compton area right now. But this guy has gone out and done it. He's hit in the Area Code games against some really good competition and he's hit at some things they've had at the Compton academy where they brought in the better players. We really like the way Chris Smith can swing the bat. He's got the chance to hit and hit for power. Our area guy, Stewart Smothers, did a real good job of staying on him. We know him and I think we feel as comfortable as any team should with his makeup. The guy is a good athlete too. He played quarterback on their football team, he was a guard on their basketball team, and every time you'd see him he'd be coming out from one sport or another and just have some natural hit ability. He'd just hit so we like him.

PinstripesPlus: It almost sounds as if he's a left-handed hitting version of Austin Jackson. How would you compare Smith with Jackson?

Oppenheimer: This guy is more of a guy who is a good hitter who has athleticism. He's further along in the bat tool than Austin was. Austin was a better athlete, more of a live, quicker athlete than Chris is.

PinstripesPlus: On the subject of hit tool, Corban Joseph compared himself to a little bit like Chase Utley and the scouts we've talked to inevitably bring up his hitting ability. Talk about Joseph.

Oppenheimer: Yeah that's the name you'd hope he'd become. Chase Utley's bat was further along than his glove was at the same time, just like Corban. I guess that's where the similarities are, that and the fact they're both left-handed hitting second baseman. He's another kid who we think can really hit. He's a proven hitter. He's a workout nut when it comes to makeup for hitting. He's got to improve with his glove, there's no question about it. With the way he works at it and the fact he's just a pure baseball guy, and with our development guys, we'll be able to get this guy to be a solid defender and with his bat keep coming we should have a hell of a player.

PinstripesPlus: Scott Bittle has absolutely silly numbers, but yet some are already criticizing the fact he doesn't throw particularly hard and they believe because of that, that he was a reach in the second round. Are you worried about his velocity at all?

Oppenheimer: No because he didn't use his fastball as much. He'll establish more fastballs with us. When he does use his fastball it's going to be harder, but the guy has really nasty secondary stuff. You get a right-handed reliever you think who could move quick, whose fastball is up to 93 MPH, who has a secondary pitch as a slider and a changeup that are both now plus to almost plus-plus, and he's proven that guys miss, at that point that plays way over whatever the damn radar gun says. The radar gun has some meaning, but it's not everything. If that was the way it was then you'd just go out there and read radar gun readings, and we all know that doesn't work.

PinstripesPlus: Doing our interviews with the picks, David Adams seems as intense as they come. Talk about him.

Oppenheimer: Going back to our style with what we do, we take everything into consideration. David Adams, statistically, had a pretty bad year at UVA this year. We went out and broke down hours and hours of film on this guy, going back to his swing from high school to his swing in the Cape, to his sophomore year, and we just saw the flaws that had taken place into this junior year. We had hitting people look at it, we had scouts look at it, and it doesn't look like it's anything very difficult to fix. Then you talk to the kid and he's an intense person who knows he's got a lot to prove, and all he cares about is getting to the big leagues and proving that it was a fluke year. We think we've got the potential for a really good player because this guy was high on our radar going into the year.

PinstripesPlus: Brett Marshall reportedly has the great fastball-slider combination. What have you seen from him and how do you see him fitting in the farm system?

Oppenheimer: If people are looking for velocity, this guy brings a lot of velocity. He's got a fastball up to 97 MPH and a now slider, so that's what makes him really attractive. This guy's a really good athlete with a good body, a power fastball, a power slider, and throws the ball over the plate. It's real fortunate for us that we've got a guy we're going to make every effort to sign. We're going to try and get this one done. This is a good pick and a strong athlete, so we're pretty darn excited getting him where we got him.

PinstripesPlus: Mikey O'Brien is listed as a smaller pitcher but he too reportedly has the power arm. What did you see in O'Brien?

Oppenheimer: A couple of our scouts saw Mikey O'Brien. They saw a guy who they think is one of those really complete pitchers. He's right-handed, our people say he's 6-foot, a high school kid whose fastball is 89-93 MPH, so we still think he's projectable, he has a good breaking ball, a good changeup, and locates his fastball with good arm action and delivery. I think if this guy was 6-foot-2 or something like that, there would probably have been a lot more interest in him. He's a good looking kid.

PinstripesPlus: What's the book on Kyle Higashioka? How does he compare with the likes of Austin Romine and Chase Weems, catchers you took last year?

Oppenheimer: He's a good hitter. Again, this is a guy we've had on our radar. We've seen him in the Area Code games, we saw him last year, he's been on the scout league teams out in Southern California, we've seen him with wood bats, and what he does is always produces and he always hits. He hits the guys who throw hard out there. This is a guy who can swing the bat. His catching is coming along. He doesn't have a great arm but it's average. What we're buying here is a guy we think is a good hitter, a catcher who is a good hitter and those guys have really good value. He's one of the guys we really liked as a bat. His bat is very, very comparable to Romine's, but he doesn't have Romine's arm or his raw power right now.

PinstripesPlus: Luke Greinke comes with a lot of intrigue since his brother pitches for the Royals. Can you make any sort of comparison to his brother?

Oppenheimer: Probably not yet. Hopefully down the road we can. Hopefully stuff-wise we'll be able to make a comparison with him and he'll be able to be like that, but I don't think that would be fair to Luke right now. Luke is a guy who was a position player and a pitcher, and now he's solely going to pitch. He's athletic, he's got a good feel for his delivery, he's got good arm action, his fastball is in that average range, 90-92 MPH right now. We think we might be able to get a little more out of that once he solely does pitching. We've got a little bit of work to do to get him going and up there, but the guy has pretty good command of a solid fastball and the delivery and arm action are good, and I think he's got the spin on the breaking ball, so I think we've got the chance at a pretty good pitcher here.

PinstripesPlus: It sounds like Matt Richardson, like Marshall and O'Brien, has a pretty live arm. What have you seen from him?

Oppenheimer: He's got a good body, he's projectable, and his arm works really good. He was up to 93 MPH at our workout. We've seen him continue to progress and get better as the season went on. His velocity went from like an 87 MPH guy to what we saw at the end. He flashes good spin on his curveball and has some feel for throwing the ball over the plate. Once again you're taking a chance on a projectable high school right-handed pitcher who is starting to show some now stuff. We drafted him with every intention of trying to sign him. He's got a chance to go to Central Florida and we're going to see what we can get accomplished. We're excited about it.

PinstripesPlus: Mitchell Delaney has some intrigue to him, some have made the comparison that he's a left-handed hitting version of Brandon Laird. What's the book on him?

Oppenheimer: Mark Batchko had him out there in west Texas out in the middle of nowhere. This is a Canadian kid who has got good size, he's got a nice simple swing from the left-hand side, and he's got a little pop in his bat. He came to Yankee Stadium for a workout. He put some good swings on the ball, hit a couple of balls into the upper-deck, and we saw him do some things that intrigued us. Where we got him in the draft - a left-handed bat like that - you've got to take a shot at him and I think that's good pick.

PinstripesPlus: Blake Monar is one of your signability guys. Talk about him a little bit. How hard is it going to be to sign him?

Oppenheimer: I don't know how hard it's going to be. We're going to get in there, and once again, we've drafted him with the intention of signing him. We're going to give it a shot but we're talking about a guy who has a now curveball. He's left-handed and he's got a really good curveball. Everybody you talk to, the first thing they're going to say about Blake Monar is that this kid can really spin a curveball. His fastball velocity is short right now, it's going to be 85-89 MPH, in that vicinity, which if you go around to the lefties in the big leagues that's no so bad. In terms of what we've got, it's a projection on his fastball, it's a projection on his velocity, but the kid's got a now curveball, and hopefully we'll get this one in the system also. To get that breaking ball, we'd be pretty happy with that.

PinstripesPlus: Garrison Lassiter also appears to be a signability guy. What can you tell us about him?

Oppenheimer: I'm sure he slid because he has a high price tag out there, but at that point you've got to draft him and see what we can do. You never know when a kid's going to change his mind or if something might change. Garrison's a guy who we think has the chance to swing the bat and hit. We're not exactly sure if he's a shortstop or a second baseman or a third baseman, but we liked his bat and we think he's an advanced high school hitter. Again, he's another guy we're going to try and make a run at, and see if we can get that one in the system.

PinstripesPlus: We talked about David Adams earlier and Dan Brewer seems nearly as intense. Does he have some upside even though he's a later round college pick?

Oppenheimer: Yeah the guy's got tools. He has tools, he can swing the bat, and he's proven he's a pretty good hitter. He's hit in the Cape and he hit in that league that he's in. We've seen him and we like his stroke. The guy can run a little, not enough that you would say he's the perfect centerfielder, but the guy has intensity and he gets good jumps out there. He's a good baseball player that can hit. Those guys become pretty valuable guys. Sometimes you get guys like that, that have done it and they've performed in the Cape that you can hang your hat on, and have some athleticism to them and some real mental toughness, you have a real good big league player.

PinstripesPlus: Back to signability guys, Christopher Dwyer is another one that comes to mind. He sounds as if he might be the toughest to sign.

Oppenheimer: Probably. He's left-handed and he's kind of in a unique situation in that if he goes to college he's actually eligible after his freshman year because of his age, which I don't know if that's ever happened. He's just a projectable left-handed guy.

PinstripesPlus: What can you tell us about Sam Mende? He sounds like he could be a tough sign too.

Oppenheimer: He could be. Sam's a local guy we've got to see a lot and we've got some good history with him. We like him. He's one of those guys where you're not sure if he's going to be a major league shortstop or if he's going to be a second baseman or a third baseman, but we think he can hit. We think he's pretty intense, we think he has some pretty good athleticism to him, but in terms of the perfect profile we're not exactly sure what he's going to be. We do believe he's a good baseball player who has the ability to hit.

PinstripesPlus: What are your thoughts on Mykal Stokes?

Oppenheimer: Once again this is an athletic guy who has some tools for the game. We're going to follow him this summer to see what we do have there, but he's got some tools to swing the bat, he can run, but we've just got to evaluate how far it is away.

PinstripesPlus: It sounds as if Creede Simpson is another one of those signability guys. What can you tell us about him?

Oppenheimer: Not too many people knew who Creede was. I'm not sure how many people knew about him but our scout did a nice job on him. He's probably going to fall into the signability deal. We're going to watch him play this summer to see if things improve, but he's got some skills. He's actually a good baseball player with some tools, but we need to see if they become more consistent and see if he's somebody who is ready to go sign.

PinstripesPlus: Nikolas Turley doesn't sound like the typical 50th round pick. He sounds as if he has some arm strength from the left side. What is his game like?

Oppenheimer: He's a little bit raw but the guy can light up the gun a little bit. When you get the chance to get a left-hander and he's throwing 91 MPH in the 50th round, you take it.

PinstripesPlus: Like Justin Snyder last year, of your later college picks this year, who are some of the guys that might surprise? Is there a sleeper in the group?

Oppenheimer: Well I hope there's a bunch of sleepers. The kid [Addison] Maruszak has got some plate discipline, he's got a big-time strong arm, he swings the bat, and our talk is he's going to play shortstop for us this year and then we're going to evaluate it and see if we think he can catch. The way this guy throws, you might be talking about this guy being something like [Kyle] Anson, somebody like that. He's a good player but he doesn't have the ideal running speed for a shortstop. I think there's something there to maybe keep people's eyes on him. The kid Brandon Braboy, nobody knows about the University of Indianapolis, but he's got arm strength. He's going to light up a gun so some people will be happy about that. He has a good arm.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: Overall, how happy were you with your draft when it was all said and done?
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\r\nDamon Oppenheimer: Very happy. I think we've got the chance to put quite an amount into the system that's pretty interesting. You've got a chance for a big-time starting pitcher like [Gerrit] Cole, then we were able to come up with a left-handed starter with a guy like [Jeremy] Bleich who not everybody knows that much because he went down there in the middle of the season, but heck, he was a guy we really liked. Then you back that up with a guy who's close to the big leagues in the relief role like [Scott] Bittle, then you start putting some bats into the system, then some guys we took down the line that slipped for whatever reason that we drafted with all intents and purposes of signing them. I think we're looking at a real strong draft.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: There's a segment of the Yankee fan population that feels you guys were very conservative in this draft, that you didn't take high-ceiling players earlier in the draft. What would you say about that?
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\r\nOppenheimer: I'd like to know which players they were that we passed on that have high ceilings. I guess I haven't read everything out there, but I'm trying to figure out who these high-ceiling guys are that we passed on. That's the part that gets a little dangerous when it comes to blogs and Baseball America, people who don't actually get out there to see and look at players. If we thought there was a guy to take with a high ceiling that we thought was signable, we wouldn't have hesitated.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: I'm glad you brought up the blogs and Baseball America because Jeremy Bleich was a guy not on a lot of those people's lists and because of that, there's a segment of the Yankees fans who though Bleich was an over-draft or a reach in the supplemental round. What made you take him where you did and did his performance in the Cape Cod League the previous two seasons a big reason?
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\r\nOppenheimer: This guy has been on our radar screen since last year in the Cape and going into the season in his sophomore year at Stanford. We've been on this guy. We had good reports on him. The reports were so good on him that back in January I went out to Stanford and watched him pitch in an intrasquad game. That was the distinct reason for me to fly out all the way from the east coast to the west coast, it was to see him pitch. I guess left-handed and up to 92-93, people look around the big leagues and that's pretty damn good. He's got a plus curveball that he throws for strikes, he's got a plus changeup that he throws for strikes - I think we got ourselves a really good pick with this guy.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: There were some public questions regarding Gerrit Cole's makeup. What did you see in his makeup that maybe was misinterpreted by some as questionable makeup?
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\r\nOppeheimer: We saw a guy that competes his butt off out on the mound, he wears his emotions on his sleeve, and really gets after it. This is a guy who is very tenacious out there. Sometimes if people want to misconstrue that as makeup, so be it. For me, the makeup we saw was competitiveness makeup and a guy who wanted to win and beat the other team. We did our research on him. We had people we know visit with him, we talked to the coach, we did a lot of things. We didn't have any doubts that this guy was going to be a great competitor and have the makeup we're looking for.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Everybody has heard about the power in his game, but what about his other pitches. What have you seen about the rest of his game?
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\r\nOppenheimer: He's got a big slurve that's kind of between a curveball and a slider, but it's got big break and power to it. The changeup kept coming and coming, and by the end of the season the last person to see him was Mark Newman, and Newman saw he had a plus changeup that he threw for strikes. We see him as a guy who is pretty advanced with his stuff and he's throwing strikes with it. He's a potential power starter and we couldn't pass that up.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: What are your thoughts on getting D.J. Mitchell there in the tenth round?
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\r\nOppenheimer: I'm really excited about it. He's another one who, if he pieces it all together, an athlete to strikes guys out - we've got something there. The huge fastball wasn't there but it's still projectable. He's got the chance to get better now that he's a full-time pitcher. He's got a real good slider and he strikes out really good hitters in that conference, and he did it in the Cape. I'm excited about getting him and hopefully we can get him signed.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: One guy most people are already intrigued by is Christopher Smith. Is his talent big enough that perhaps he could have been a first rounder had he gotten more exposure?
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\r\nOppenheimer: You know Chris Smith is a guy who people have seen. He plays in a conference where the level of competition there - it's not his fault - it's just not very good in that Compton area right now. But this guy has gone out and done it. He's hit in the Area Code games against some really good competition and he's hit at some things they've had at the Compton academy where they brought in the better players. We really like the way Chris Smith can swing the bat. He's got the chance to hit and hit for power. Our area guy, Stewart Smothers, did a real good job of staying on him. We know him and I think we feel as comfortable as any team should with his makeup. The guy is a good athlete too. He played quarterback on their football team, he was a guard on their basketball team, and every time you'd see him he'd be coming out from one sport or another and just have some natural hit ability. He'd just hit so we like him.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: It almost sounds as if he's a left-handed hitting version of Austin Jackson. How would you compare Smith with Jackson?
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\r\nOppenheimer: This guy is more of a guy who is a good hitter who has athleticism. He's further along in the bat tool than Austin was. Austin was a better athlete, more of a live, quicker athlete than Chris is.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: On the subject of hit tool, Corban Joseph compared himself to a little bit like Chase Utley and the scouts we've talked to inevitably bring up his hitting ability. Talk about Joseph.
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\r\nOppenheimer: Yeah that's the name you'd hope he'd become. Chase Utley's bat was further along than his glove was at the same time, just like Corban. I guess that's where the similarities are, that and the fact they're both left-handed hitting second baseman. He's another kid who we think can really hit. He's a proven hitter. He's a workout nut when it comes to makeup for hitting. He's got to improve with his glove, there's no question about it. With the way he works at it and the fact he's just a pure baseball guy, and with our development guys, we'll be able to get this guy to be a solid defender and with his bat keep coming we should have a hell of a player.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Scott Bittle has absolutely silly numbers, but yet some are already criticizing the fact he doesn't throw particularly hard and they believe because of that, that he was a reach in the second round. Are you worried about his velocity at all?
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\r\nOppenheimer: No because he didn't use his fastball as much. He'll establish more fastballs with us. When he does use his fastball it's going to be harder, but the guy has really nasty secondary stuff. You get a right-handed reliever you think who could move quick, whose fastball is up to 93 MPH, who has a secondary pitch as a slider and a changeup that are both now plus to almost plus-plus, and he's proven that guys miss, at that point that plays way over whatever the damn radar gun says. The radar gun has some meaning, but it's not everything. If that was the way it was then you'd just go out there and read radar gun readings, and we all know that doesn't work.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Doing our interviews with the picks, David Adams seems as intense as they come. Talk about him.
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\r\nOppenheimer: Going back to our style with what we do, we take everything into consideration. David Adams, statistically, had a pretty bad year at UVA this year. We went out and broke down hours and hours of film on this guy, going back to his swing from high school to his swing in the Cape, to his sophomore year, and we just saw the flaws that had taken place into this junior year. We had hitting people look at it, we had scouts look at it, and it doesn't look like it's anything very difficult to fix. Then you talk to the kid and he's an intense person who knows he's got a lot to prove, and all he cares about is getting to the big leagues and proving that it was a fluke year. We think we've got the potential for a really good player because this guy was high on our radar going into the year.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Brett Marshall reportedly has the great fastball-slider combination. What have you seen from him and how do you see him fitting in the farm system?
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\r\nOppenheimer: If people are looking for velocity, this guy brings a lot of velocity. He's got a fastball up to 97 MPH and a now slider, so that's what makes him really attractive. This guy's a really good athlete with a good body, a power fastball, a power slider, and throws the ball over the plate. It's real fortunate for us that we've got a guy we're going to make every effort to sign. We're going to try and get this one done. This is a good pick and a strong athlete, so we're pretty darn excited getting him where we got him.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Mikey O'Brien is listed as a smaller pitcher but he too reportedly has the power arm. What did you see in O'Brien?
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\r\nOppenheimer: A couple of our scouts saw Mikey O'Brien. They saw a guy who they think is one of those really complete pitchers. He's right-handed, our people say he's 6-foot, a high school kid whose fastball is 89-93 MPH, so we still think he's projectable, he has a good breaking ball, a good changeup, and locates his fastball with good arm action and delivery. I think if this guy was 6-foot-2 or something like that, there would probably have been a lot more interest in him. He's a good looking kid.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: What's the book on Kyle Higashioka? How does he compare with the likes of Austin Romine and Chase Weems, catchers you took last year?
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\r\nOppenheimer: He's a good hitter. Again, this is a guy we've had on our radar. We've seen him in the Area Code games, we saw him last year, he's been on the scout league teams out in Southern California, we've seen him with wood bats, and what he does is always produces and he always hits. He hits the guys who throw hard out there. This is a guy who can swing the bat. His catching is coming along. He doesn't have a great arm but it's average. What we're buying here is a guy we think is a good hitter, a catcher who is a good hitter and those guys have really good value. He's one of the guys we really liked as a bat. His bat is very, very comparable to Romine's, but he doesn't have Romine's arm or his raw power right now.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Luke Greinke comes with a lot of intrigue since his brother pitches for the Royals. Can you make any sort of comparison to his brother?
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\r\nOppenheimer: Probably not yet. Hopefully down the road we can. Hopefully stuff-wise we'll be able to make a comparison with him and he'll be able to be like that, but I don't think that would be fair to Luke right now. Luke is a guy who was a position player and a pitcher, and now he's solely going to pitch. He's athletic, he's got a good feel for his delivery, he's got good arm action, his fastball is in that average range, 90-92 MPH right now. We think we might be able to get a little more out of that once he solely does pitching. We've got a little bit of work to do to get him going and up there, but the guy has pretty good command of a solid fastball and the delivery and arm action are good, and I think he's got the spin on the breaking ball, so I think we've got the chance at a pretty good pitcher here.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: It sounds like Matt Richardson, like Marshall and O'Brien, has a pretty live arm. What have you seen from him?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: He's got a good body, he's projectable, and his arm works really good. He was up to 93 MPH at our workout. We've seen him continue to progress and get better as the season went on. His velocity went from like an 87 MPH guy to what we saw at the end. He flashes good spin on his curveball and has some feel for throwing the ball over the plate. Once again you're taking a chance on a projectable high school right-handed pitcher who is starting to show some now stuff. We drafted him with every intention of trying to sign him. He's got a chance to go to Central Florida and we're going to see what we can get accomplished. We're excited about it.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Mitchell Delaney has some intrigue to him, some have made the comparison that he's a left-handed hitting version of Brandon Laird. What's the book on him?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Mark Batchko had him out there in west Texas out in the middle of nowhere. This is a Canadian kid who has got good size, he's got a nice simple swing from the left-hand side, and he's got a little pop in his bat. He came to Yankee Stadium for a workout. He put some good swings on the ball, hit a couple of balls into the upper-deck, and we saw him do some things that intrigued us. Where we got him in the draft - a left-handed bat like that - you've got to take a shot at him and I think that's good pick.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Blake Monar is one of your signability guys. Talk about him a little bit. How hard is it going to be to sign him?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: I don't know how hard it's going to be. We're going to get in there, and once again, we've drafted him with the intention of signing him. We're going to give it a shot but we're talking about a guy who has a now curveball. He's left-handed and he's got a really good curveball. Everybody you talk to, the first thing they're going to say about Blake Monar is that this kid can really spin a curveball. His fastball velocity is short right now, it's going to be 85-89 MPH, in that vicinity, which if you go around to the lefties in the big leagues that's no so bad. In terms of what we've got, it's a projection on his fastball, it's a projection on his velocity, but the kid's got a now curveball, and hopefully we'll get this one in the system also. To get that breaking ball, we'd be pretty happy with that.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Garrison Lassiter also appears to be a signability guy. What can you tell us about him?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: I'm sure he slid because he has a high price tag out there, but at that point you've got to draft him and see what we can do. You never know when a kid's going to change his mind or if something might change. Garrison's a guy who we think has the chance to swing the bat and hit. We're not exactly sure if he's a shortstop or a second baseman or a third baseman, but we liked his bat and we think he's an advanced high school hitter. Again, he's another guy we're going to try and make a run at, and see if we can get that one in the system.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: We talked about David Adams earlier and Dan Brewer seems nearly as intense. Does he have some upside even though he's a later round college pick?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Yeah the guy's got tools. He has tools, he can swing the bat, and he's proven he's a pretty good hitter. He's hit in the Cape and he hit in that league that he's in. We've seen him and we like his stroke. The guy can run a little, not enough that you would say he's the perfect centerfielder, but the guy has intensity and he gets good jumps out there. He's a good baseball player that can hit. Those guys become pretty valuable guys. Sometimes you get guys like that, that have done it and they've performed in the Cape that you can hang your hat on, and have some athleticism to them and some real mental toughness, you have a real good big league player.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Back to signability guys, Christopher Dwyer is another one that comes to mind. He sounds as if he might be the toughest to sign.
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Probably. He's left-handed and he's kind of in a unique situation in that if he goes to college he's actually eligible after his freshman year because of his age, which I don't know if that's ever happened. He's just a projectable left-handed guy.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What can you tell us about Sam Mende? He sounds like he could be a tough sign too.
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: He could be. Sam's a local guy we've got to see a lot and we've got some good history with him. We like him. He's one of those guys where you're not sure if he's going to be a major league shortstop or if he's going to be a second baseman or a third baseman, but we think he can hit. We think he's pretty intense, we think he has some pretty good athleticism to him, but in terms of the perfect profile we're not exactly sure what he's going to be. We do believe he's a good baseball player who has the ability to hit.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What are your thoughts on Mykal Stokes?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Once again this is an athletic guy who has some tools for the game. We're going to follow him this summer to see what we do have there, but he's got some tools to swing the bat, he can run, but we've just got to evaluate how far it is away.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: It sounds as if Creede Simpson is another one of those signability guys. What can you tell us about him?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Not too many people knew who Creede was. I'm not sure how many people knew about him but our scout did a nice job on him. He's probably going to fall into the signability deal. We're going to watch him play this summer to see if things improve, but he's got some skills. He's actually a good baseball player with some tools, but we need to see if they become more consistent and see if he's somebody who is ready to go sign.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Nikolas Turley doesn't sound like the typical 50th round pick. He sounds as if he has some arm strength from the left side. What is his game like?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: He's a little bit raw but the guy can light up the gun a little bit. When you get the chance to get a left-hander and he's throwing 91 MPH in the 50th round, you take it.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Like Justin Snyder last year, of your later college picks this year, who are some of the guys that might surprise? Is there a sleeper in the group?
\r\n
\r\nOppenheimer: Well I hope there's a bunch of sleepers. The kid [Addison] Maruszak has got some plate discipline, he's got a big-time strong arm, he swings the bat, and our talk is he's going to play shortstop for us this year and then we're going to evaluate it and see if we think he can catch. The way this guy throws, you might be talking about this guy being something like [Kyle] Anson, somebody like that. He's a good player but he doesn't have the ideal running speed for a shortstop. I think there's something there to maybe keep people's eyes on him. The kid Brandon Braboy, nobody knows about the University of Indianapolis, but he's got arm strength. He's going to light up a gun so some people will be happy about that. He has a good arm.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
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