When Mason Williams was drafted many outlets said that he was likely to go to school because he had a large asking price and many teams passed on him because they didn't feel his talent warranted the number he had put out there. In fact, there were some rumors that the ultra-athletic centerfielder had a $2 million pricetag, and given his family history of being in the professional sports world, he wasn't the type that could be strong armed into backing off his number.
Over the past few weeks I have received multiple e-mails from fans that in one way or another referenced Williams being done, that his contract was being held up by the commissioner's office, or even that he was not done and was presenting difficulty in negotiations. Last night on Twitter I broke the news Rutckyj was done, but that "there was still work to do on Williams." That news came directly from the Yankees, and even I interpreted it as meaning that negotiations were ongoing and the two sides were fighting for what they felt was fair value.
Turns out that was wrong. Another source (again, outside the Yankee organization) informed me late last night that the Yankees had yet to even initiate formal negotiations on Mason Williams. Sure there had been conversations throughout the summer, informal, and mostly about baseball and how the talented centerfielder was playing, but there had been no contract negotiations.
From what I'm told, the Yankees waited until after 10:00 PM last night, with less than two hours to go to the deadline, to even open negotiations. They kept a good rapport with Mason's camp all summer, but did not engage the contract side of things officially until just minutes before the signing deadline. My source speculates that they knew what Williams was looking for and played a little game of chicken leading up to the deadline to try and reach a more agreeable price.
Keep in mind that the last part is just speculation, but the information itself is that the Yankees took care of the other options they had and did not make contact with Williams' group until approximately 120 minutes prior to the deadline.
I personally found this information extremely informative, as I had thought that Williams would get done, but that he was in the driver's seat the whole time and was basically dictating the terms of the negotiations. Turns out I was very wrong there, and that the Yankees actually know what they're doing. Go figure, huh? This is a lesson that all draft fans need to remember from time to time - the Yankees amateur scouting department knows a whole lot more about running a draft than we do.
In the end Mason Williams was a guy the Yankees targeted, but targeted at a certain price, and they reached a number that both sides were happy with. In seeking to sign the player, my source tells me they took a relatively unique route in the negotiating process to try and bring him into the fold on their terms.
There will be a full interview with Damon by the end of this work week, and then another week or two before I post the full draft grades and review. I'll also post any intersting tidbits here if I come across them. Stay tuned...
8/16/10, 10:13 AM: I was just in contact with Josh Dezse and was told "we couldn't make a deal, so I'm going to Ohio State."
The deadline is midnight tonight, so we'll see what happens as we get closer. There is always the possibility of a last minute agreement, but for now Dezse himself thinks he's not signing and will be on campus in Columbus.
8/16/10, 9:43 AM: I spoke to Damon last night, and he said that there wasn't much going on yesterday, but he did let me know that Martin Viramontes has told the Yankees that he would be going back to school for his redshirt junior year.
As I reported to you earlier in the process, the Yankees had seen Viramontes six times this summer, with Damon himself being in attendance three of those occasions, so they had a solid idea of what they were dealing with when it came to negotiations with the 6'5", 225 lb RHP. I know that the Yankees were really trying to sign Viramontes, commiting to what Damon always terms "making a run" at the DES from Loyola Marymount. Well, it turns out that the Yankees made their run, submitted the Viramontes camp a significant offer, only to see him reject it and say he was going back to school.
I asked if there was the possibility of re-opening negotiations if Viramontes decided to come back to the negotiating table, and while Damon understands this is a business and would never close any door completely, there wasn't much enthusiasm in his response to the idea of the starter changing his mind.
I'll be back with more throughout the day, so stay tuned...
8/13/10, 8:49 AM: The deadline is approaching, and I've got some Friday morning notes for you.
I'll bring you all the news I can as I get it, so stay tuned...
8/12/10, 1:37 PM: Another quick update on something that I've reported for a while now, but is nice to receive confirmation on: 9th round pick Taylor Morton has agreed to a deal and will be signing on Saturday.
More news shortly, so stay tuned...
8/12/10, 9:14 AM: A quick update on something that has been expected, but I figured everyone would be interested in regardless: 2nd rounder Angelo Gumbs will officially sign with the Yankees tomorrow.
I should be back with more later, so stay tuned as always...
8/11/10, 8:20 PM: As promised, here is the latest from Rob Segedin, who has agreed to a deal with the Yankees and is on a flight to Tampa right now so that he can take his physical and then sign a contract. We're getting closer to the deadline, and I've been hearing some things on names that everyone is interested in, so stay tuned as always...
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So how are you feeling now that you've agreed with your all-time favorite team? Last time we spoke you said you couldn't approach negotiations with your heart instead of your head – what's it like to finally be able to think with your heart?
Rob Segedin: I'm pretty excited right now; pretty happy. I've had a smile on my face all day! Just walking through security here at the airport now everybody was looking at me kind of weird because I have this huge smile on my face. It's just a great time for me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Awesome – are you wearing a Yankee hat?
Rob Segedin: No, I've got the gelled hair, so no hat. [laughs]
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Gotta stay true to the Jersey roots, right?
Rob Segedin: [laughs] Yeah, you gotta!
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: It got a little tenuous there at some points – did you ever think that a deal might not get done?
Rob Segedin: Yeah, there were times that I thought there was a possibility that it may not get done, but that's part of the whole process. That's what happens when you choose to sit and wait for a better deal. You don't know if they're going to come back with a better offer or if they're just going to let you slide, so I was definitely nervous at times but I'm glad we were able to get an agreement together so that I can sign with the Yankees. As everyone knows they're my favorite team from the moment I was born, and to have the opportunity to play in the organization is a dream come true. As a baseball player recently and even as a kid I always dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues for the Yankees and now I'm only a couple steps away from fulfilling my dream.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The last few times we spoke you had gone through fairly long periods without speaking to the Yankees, and then some contact, but no offer. When did it become real that you were going to reach an agreement?
Rob Segedin: My advisor called me yesterday [Tuesday] morning and told me there was a chance we would get an offer that night. He had no idea what type of offer it would be, but he told me to hold tight and we would see what happened. I was just…all day I was just sitting around waiting for that phone call and hoping it would be an offer. When I finally heard from him that night it was pretty funny because he started out by asking me what I was doing, what my plans were for the next couple of days, and I just wanted to hear Yankee news! He finally told me that there was an offer and what it was, and I was so excited to get the offer, to have it be something that I was comfortable signing, and to get started with my professional career. It was just a crazy exciting day yesterday.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So what is the plan for you now?
Rob Segedin: Right now I'm flying to Tampa, and I'll be getting my physical tomorrow. Pending the results of the physical I'll most likely be signing my contract tomorrow morning. After that I'll probably stay in Tampa for a couple of days because I haven't seen much live pitching in the past two months and I'm thinking of getting in a couple of at-bats down there before the Yankees send me wherever it is they want me to start. When I spoke with my area scout Andy Cannizaro he said it will all become more clear tomorrow when I meet with Player Development and all the people in Tampa.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Usually the college guys go straight to Staten Island, but it sounds like you may get a few at-bats in the GCL?
Rob Segedin: Yeah, as of now that's the plan, but my advisor told me that Damon doesn't know exactly where they'll send me. He said most likely it will be Staten Island, with an outside chance at Charleston. Staten Island would be great because it's close to my family, close to home and the area where I grew up, plus a couple of kids I've played with my whole life are on the Staten Island Yankee team, so that would be cool. If I go to Charleston and skip that step, that would also be good for me and my career. Either way I'm excited for whatever they have in store for me, and I'll do whatever they tell me to.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the guys on Staten Island that you've played with?
Rob Segedin: I played three years of college baseball with Preston Claiborne, I played summer ball with Kyle Roller last year, my brother played on the same college team as Mike Gipson, and I played against Shane Brown a bunch. Preston and I are really close from our time in college, so being on the same team again would be exciting.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What about position? Third base? Right field?
Rob Segedin: They didn't tell me. Whatever they think is the best way I can contribute to the Yankees organization is what I'm ready to do. Hopefully it's third base, but if it's the outfield I'm completely satisfied with playing there because I've played there before and I like the position. We'll see what Player Development has to say about where I'll be playing most of my time.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Lastly, just wanted to let you know that I've had many fans wanting me to simply pass along well wishes, particularly because they see you as "one of us" because you're a local kid who grew up a die-hard Yankee fan.
Rob Segedin: [laughs] Well tell them thanks, man! I know my sister has been texting me all day with Google and Twitter updates, and a lot of people back in my hometown are going crazy over the fact that I've agreed and have a chance to play in front of my hometown this summer – and hopefully for the rest of my career. It's just really exciting; I can't even describe how exciting it is when I think about the future I have in the Yankees organization.
8/11/10, 9:16 AM: At the prompting of a poster in the draft blog thread on the PP message board I checked in with Damon this morning on the Rob Segedin situation and found out that they are making progress in negotiations, and that the DES from Tulane will actually be in for a physical tonight.
I was just in touch with Rob himself a few minutes ago, and he confirmed that he is flying in for a physical, and that they have made progress in their negotiations. While I personally don't think this is the case here, it should be kept in mind that physicals are usually administered by teams to any players they are still in negotiations with as the deadline closes in so that they can agree to a last minute deal and not have to worry about the medical portion of the agreement.
I will have more for you guys tonight on this situation, and it looks like there is a chance I will be the bearer of good news. Stay tuned...
8/10/10, 12:27 PM: Just wanted to pop in with a quick update on the Robert Segedin situation.
I spoke with the sweet-swinging RHB recently and he told me that there had finally been contact from the Yankees after the two week stalmate I reported earlier. Damon Oppenheimer had been in contact with Segedin's camp, but no offer was made. Segedin said that at this point nothing has changed for him, and he's waiting to see if the Yankees bring another offer to the table before the deadline.
In speaking with Damon himself, he made it clear to me that he's not going to chase a number that he doesn't think believe is an accurate reflection of the player's value. Additionally, the Yankees are very aware that if they don't come to terms they will get this pick back next year in what many people have been describing as a much deeper draft. For the sake of clarity, this is not the goal (garnering the pick next year), as Damon specifically told me, "we didn't draft him to not sign him. We sure as heck want his bat, but we're not going to overpay."
At this point it seems to me that both sides have dug their heels in, but at the same time I know that the numbers being exchanged are on a much smaller level than many people who have contacted me suspect, so I think that there is still a solid chance of Segedin signing.
8/6/10, 2:01 PM: A quick update for those of you who have been asking me about Evan Rutckyj, the Canadian LHP with the outsized number. I checked in with Damon around lunch today to find out where things stood with the towering former hockey player and received what I interepret as an encouraging reponse. I was told that Rutckyj was "not at all" in the same category as fellow HS pitchers Keenan Kish and Travis Dean when it came to the Yankees current pursuit of him.
"It will come down to the end with him," Damon said.
8/6/10, 10:52 AM: 6th round pick Gabe Encinas had reached an agreement with the Yankees and should be signing sometime this weekend.
I expect this to be the start of some of the JSTs to be officially brought into the fold, so this is the beginning of the official announcements concerning the earlier round selections.
On another note, Zach Nuding has reached his agreement, and he also took his physical, but it was made clear to me that he has not signed yet. The mountainous righty is not in Tampa, and still at home in Texas at this point.
Stay tuned, as I'll bring you all the agreement/signing information I have as I get it...
8/2/10, 3:58 PM: I was in touch with Damon Oppenheimer yesterday and was able to get a lot of good feedback on the standing of the remaining signability cases.
Damon said that negotiations were still ongoing with the majority of the picks, and that almost everybody was still in play. He was only ready to completely rule out one signing, and that was Georgia Tech DES, Kevin Jacob. That decision was based on the fact that the Yankees weren't able to see the Yellow Jackets' closer throw at all this summer to make an evaluation and/or offer a contract.
I spoke to Jacob himself yesterday as well, and he basically told me that barring anything unforseen, he expected to be back at Georgia Tech in the fall. He was down in Atlanta coaching at a baseball camp, but he's back at home in Baltimore now. He had inititally intended to go to pitch on the Cape at the halfway point of the season, but after speaking with the doctor he was advised that it would be best for him to take the summer off and get his arm completely healthy rather than take the chance of rushing back in any way.
While Jacob will not be signing, the news regarding his fellow hard-throwing, DES, right-handed reliever Dan Burawa was more positive. "We're still working on him," Damon said.
One of the most in-demand prospects amongst draft fans this summer has been 4th round pick, Mason Williams. Damon let me know that they were still negotiating with Mason, but added "I think he wants to sign, and I think he believes it is in his best interest to sign, but now we just have to see if we can agree on a number."
Another highly talented OF that a lot of fans were hoping to see signed doesn't have the same rosy outlook. "Kevin Jordan will probably be going to school," Damon said. While they recognize his talent, they haven't been able to get a good evaluation on him because he hasn't been able to get fully healthy. Because of the health concerns, the Yankees don't believe now is the right time for them to make a substantial investment in Jordan.
Moving on to one of the Yankee scouting team's favorite kids, Damon said that the odds on signing Keenan Kish exist, but are very low at this point. Knowing that he has a fairly high number to break his commitment to Florida, the Yankees have watched him pitch several times, and they just have not seen the development necessary to justify giving him the money he is looking for. "He's a great kid, a good talent, and I really like him," Damon said "but given where both sides are in the negotiation process it's far-fetched to think we're going to be able to come together on something."
Josh Dezse has a different prognosis than Kish in Damon's view, with the Yankees Scouting Director saying, "he's made a lot of progress and I think we're going to make a strong run at him."
"That's part of the deal when you start taking some of these kids in the later rounds," Damon said. "You don't know which ones are going to come on, earn the money, and become something pretty good; and which ones will just stay where they are. Josh has had a nice summer, has done some nice things for us to watch, and we're going to see if we can come to an agreement with him."
The Yankees have seen 27th round pick Martin Viramontes pick six to seven times this summer, with Damon himself being in attendance for three of those starts. "We're going to make a good strong effort for him," Damon told me. "We've evaluated him and we've put a value on what we think is a fair number to sign him, so we'll see where we end up."
The one pick whose prognosis has taken a downturn from where it was previously is 3rd rounder, Rob Segedin. "I do not know what's going to happen with him at this point," Damon said. "I'd love to have him sign and get started, but if he's stuck on one number, then there's a really good chance he'll be back at school."
If you have any questions on any of the unsigned picks, feel free to mention them in the Pinstripes Plus forum thread, or e-mail them directly to me. I'll check back in with Damon as we get closer to the deadline, speak to players, and provide you with any other updates I have. Stay tuned...
7/31/10, 10:01 AM: I spoke to a source this morning who told me that the Yankees may have not one, but TWO hard throwing relievers in the fold soon. By now most people who follow the draft know about Tommy Kahnle reaching an agreement, but I was just told that the hard throwing, 30th round pick, Zach Nuding was probable to be brought into the fold soon, possibly as soon as this weekend.
I was told that the Yankees have been impressed with the 6'4", 265 lb righty reliever's performance for the North Texas Copperheads in the Texas Collegiate League this summer. Scouts have him averaging 94 MPH on his fastball and touching as high as 98 MPH. For now it appears highly likely that the JUCO sophomore will be forgoing his scholarship to Texas A&M in order to start his professional career with the Yankees.
I've got several additional lines in the water, so I'm sure I be able to get some more good information this weekend. Anything I'm able to share will be posted when I have it, so stay tuned...
7/30/10, 6:41 AM: With the deadline just over two weeks away, I sat down with the most advanced hitting prospect the Yankees took in this year's draft, Rob Segedin. We discussed a number of things that draft fans have e-mailed me about, specifically his back injury, and we also touched on that teeny-tiny issue of whether or not he'll sign...
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How has your summer been going?
Rob Segedin: It's been going well, I've been doing a lot of working out, staying in shape, and focusing on parts of my game that I think I need to improve on. Basically I'm keeping in shape so if a deal comes through I'm ready to get started.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What specifically are you focusing on in your workouts? Speed? Strength? Explosion? Flexibility?
Rob Segedin: It's everything. I spend two hours every day working out - I do a lot of speed and agility to try and get quicker. I hit every day, take ground balls, fly balls, whatever it takes to get better. Whatever happens - whether I sign with the Yankees or go back to school - I want to make sure I use this summer to better my game and make myself a better player.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You played on the Cape in the past, is there any reason you chose not to this year?
Rob Segedin: Yeah, I played there my freshman year and that was when I initially got hurt. I know the Yankees have a bunch of guys up there now working to earn their money, but for me the only reason I'd have to go at this point is to have fun. Talking with my family and my advisor, we thought it was best that I stayed back and worked out. You know, I've never really had time to work on my individual game without playing. It's time for me to get back to basics, work out harder, and refine all my tools in a non-pressure environment. I felt like I've shown my skills on the field in every stage that I've played, from high school all the way through college, and I've proven that I can play with the best of the best. I feel like I have nothing left to prove as far as going out there and showing what kind of player I am. I showed what kind of player I was last year on the Cape, and this year at school I showed what I'm capable of doing too, so it's really important for me to go back and get better at the other aspects of my game through working out every day and getting in better condition.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You just mentioned it briefly, but can you go into a little detail about the injury? A lot of times when an athlete suffers a back injury a certain stigma is attached to it, that it will be chronic or permanently debilitating. Can you address that?
Rob Segedin: Sure. A lot of the problems came through miscommunication and my desire to get back on the field, which led to rushing and pushing it. If I had taken the rest of the summer off after I sustained it and healed, I would have missed fall-ball, but I would have been fine for my sophomore year. It was one of those things where I want to play every day, keep playing baseball, and compete. The doctor gave me the option to sit out a couple of weeks and then try and play through it, or just completely sit out and shut it down, and being the competitor I am I wanted to play through it. When it came to the draft, a lot of teams had their concerns, but the Yankees were the only team that called me, invited me to a workout prior to the draft, and had their doctors look at me. The injury is not serious and the Yankees doctors were on board with my medicals because they've seen the condition before and it's not something that's career changing or threatening. I'm 100% healthy. My back actually feels better now than it did the year before the injury – I don't wake up with any pain, and I never feel like I have ever had any kind of back injury. The specialists that I see just tell me to keep up the core work and therapy I do every day as part of my workout, and I should have no problems for the rest of my career. The only way anything could possibly come up is if I stop doing that stuff and then have some kind of drastic trauma injury on top of that. I'll never back off that therapy, and I make sure I do it every day.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: It's rare that a high-profile player allows a team a physical before the draft, but it seems like you felt like you had nothing to hide regarding your back despite many teams feeling it was significant.
Rob Segedin: Yeah, a lot of teams will ask to see your medicals and just give them to their doctors , who then look at them without examining the player and draw their conclusions. The Yankees were actually smart enough to bring me in and check me out. When they said they wanted to give me a physical I was open to it because I knew I was 100% healthy, and unless something unforeseen happens in the future, I'm always going to be healthy. I've learned so much through the injury about maintaining my body that I'm not scared about being medically evaluated by anybody if they have concerns about my back, and the Yankees were the only team to jump on it, so that's why they had the opportunity to draft me and I have the opportunity to sign with them. They're a first-class organization all the way around with every little thing – even the doctors' reports and stuff – and that's why they are who they are. That's why they've won 27 World Series championships. That's why they're the best.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Growing up a Yankee fan, do the negotiations mess with your head a little bit? Is it different for you than it would have been if a team like the Royals drafted you?
Rob Segedin: You know, it doesn't really influence negotiations, it's one of those things where you realize baseball is a business and you need to pay attention to that side of it. Hopefully everything will work out, and if I sign it would be the cherry on top – to play for my favorite team, the team that Ii grew up watching and idolizing. As far as the decision I have to make goes, I'm not changing my approach to the business side because the Yankees are my favorite team. That would be thinking with your heart and not your head, and I'm going into this negotiation process thinking with my head and not my heart.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you had much contact with the Yankees since you were drafted?
Rob Segedin: In the beginning I had a lot of talks with my area scout, Andy Cannizaro, but we just couldn't come to terms as far as a signing bonus goes. Now I guess it's onto the next step, between my advisor, me, maybe Damon Oppenheimer or Cashman – whoever needs to step in and try to get a deal done – I think we've probably moved on to that next level. Right now I haven't spoken with them in about two weeks, and unless they call me I'm not planning on speaking to them, so I haven't spoken much with them lately other than one brief conversation.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: with just under three weeks until the deadline, what do you think the odds are from your perspective?
Rob Segedin: I honestly don't know. I don't know what their side of it is, I only know what it would take for me to feel comfortable forgoing the next two years of college and starting my professional career. If they don't get back to me then I'll just go back to school and try to do it all over again next year, and hopefully something will work out in the draft next year. I really can't put any odds to it because I don't know what their thinking is and what type of money they have available, so I have no clue right now.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If money weren't an issue, would playing professionally be a priority? In other words, is any of your reluctance to sign predicated on any feelings that you might not be ready to leave school and become a professional baseball player?
Rob Segedin: It goes both ways. I'm ready to start my career but I also know that if I don't sign and come back to school that I have a lot to improve on. Baseball is a game that no matter how good you are, you always have to keep improving. I know that I have a lot of work cut out for me next year if I come back to school, and there's a lot of stuff I can do better. Last year everyone said I had a career season, but I see 10, 15, 20 at-bats that I gave away and could have approached better, some balls I could have gotten to in the field, and I feel that working out this summer is going to help me make those improvements if I go back to school.
7/27/10, 7:02 PM: I was able to speak to Angelo Gumbs today and found out that the uber-athletic shortstop was in Tampa at the beginning of last week to take his physical. He stressed that he has not signed and negotiations are still ongoing, but that if everything goes well he expects to start his career with the Yankees when the deadline rolls around.
Angelo also told me that he's been taking a lot of groundballs and working hard at staying in shape - particularly working on the smaller, stabilizer-type muscles in the gym as a prehab of sorts.
Finally, several fans have asked me about Angelo's background, which is especially intriguing to a lot of Yankees fans in New York because of his Puerto Rican roots. He told me that his mother is Puerto Rican, and she moved to San Diego where she met his dad who is from St. Thomas.
News is starting to pick up on multiple fronts as we get closer to August 16th, so stay tuned...
7/25/10, 4:09 PM: Unfortunately, as I predicted about a month ago, signing news would be scarce leading up to the deadline. With so many signability cases taken this year, after the first wave of signings the remaining draftees fell into one of two categories: JST (Just Sit Tight – those players that have reached agreements with the Yankees that cannot be announced yet), or MDF (Mini Draft and Follows). The MDFs are currently trying to improve their respective draft stocks by playing summer ball, and have been told by the Yankees that offers and/or negotiations will come at a time closer to the deadline. Either way (DST or MDF), there is limited information coming out about the draftees signing status because they are either clamming up to keep their agreement quiet, or they've had virtually no contact with the Yankees in terms of the discussion of getting a deal done.
One intriguing draftee that I've managed to get a bit of actual news on recently was 28th round pick, Josh Dezse. I spoke with the tall RHP from Ohio at the beginning of this weekend, and he informed me that he's been throwing well. More importantly, he said that during a recent month-long road trip with his summer ball team that at one point led him through Ft Myers, he was able to take the Yankees up on an offer to stop by the Tampa complex. Josh told me he spent time Damon Oppenheimer's top assistant, John Kremer and went through what was essentially a practice with the team followed by a viewing of the GCL that afternoon. He said he got a feel of what minor league ball was like, and he liked what he saw. "It was a good experience and has made me more comfortable with the idea of playing professionally."
As far as the odds of him signing go, Josh says that he feels they're currently about 50/50, and they haven't spoken about money yet, but he's seen the status of the Yankees representation at his games increase with each start. "They're working the best they can at trying to get me to sign, and I'm willing to work with them," he told me.
Josh says that he's been throwing well, but not getting the results he wants the past couple of outings. From what he's been told the scouts still love what he's doing, and he's feels like he's making progress on becoming more of a pitcher than a thrower. Another silver lining to his recent struggle with results is that he has seen a velo bump, sitting 92-94 MPH in his last start, and touched 97 MPH. With regards to his knee, the Buckeye signee says that his knee feels great and he is "ready to go."
Something to keep in mind with regards to Josh's signing chances is that his signability is significant because his number isn't the same as a Brett Gerritse or Matt Richardson. If the Yankees end up signing the righty it will likely be more in the Evan Deluca to Brett Marshall range. I'm going to keep looking for new information, and I'll bring it to you when I can. Hopefully things pick up a bit in the next two weeks, so stay tuned…
6/29/10, 7:24 AM: Rumblings about the CCBL power righty reliever trio of Daniel Burawa, Kevin Jacob, and Tommy Kahnle are that they haven't done anything impressive to have the Yankees commit any additional dollars to them yet...At this point Kahnle and Burawa personify the Dennis Green rant of several years ago - "they are who we thought they were!" Coming into this process they were hard throwers with poor command, and the two have done nothing to change that...As of last weekend Jacob had not yet arrived on the Cape so the evaluation/mini D&F process on him has not begun...Stewart Ijames hasn't done anything statistically or from a scouting standpoint to make the Yankees consider opening the purse strings at this point...I had a source confirm my writings on the college lefties that are being tracked this summer, saying that my hypothesis that the Yankees would be looking for a stuff bump rather than statistical production from guys like Hunter and Hobson was correct. This would make them serious longshots at this point.
I'm shifting the odds of a couple of late-round hitters - Tym Pearson and Will Arthur. I'm putting them both at 1%, and only that high because you can never say never, but I'd be very surprised if either guy signed. In speaking to a scout familiar with the Canadian prospects, as well as one that knows the northwest, it has become clear that both guys are extremely raw and professional baseball is likely not the best place for them at this point.
I've had a couple of people ask me about Chris Austin signing, and I can confirm after speaking with Damon this morning that he is completely, officially signed at this point. No hold ups or waiting left.
Lastly, this signing period has been especially slow and likely should continue to follow that trend. With very few college juniors or seniors, the vast majority of the picks will either be over slot and have to wait until the deadline to be official, or part of the mini D&F process and have to fight for their money deep into the summer. Because of this, news on the signing process should be slower than previous years, but I'll bring you guys everything I'm able to as I get it. Stay tuned...
6/23/10, 9:26 AM: Confirming the odds put forth in the signability probability odds piece, I spoke with a source this morning who told me that 7th round pick Jake Anderson is unsigned, but that he has reached an agreement and will be taking his physical today. Assuming he passes it, the lefty centerfielder should be official in short order. The other bit of news was that 13th rounder Chris Austin is hot on Anderson's heels in the signing process, although again, nothing is official. I expected both players to sign, giving them 90% signing odds, but it is still great to bring in two talented bats from the prep ranks, especially one with as much raw power as Austin.
I'll be back with some good stuff soon, so stay tuned...
6/18/10, 9:03 PM: Josh Dezse started for his summer league team today and pitched his team to a 6-4 win. The scoreboard at the stadium had him sitting 91-93 MPH, and touching 95 MPH.
In the day since the signability probabilities were posted I've received several questions about Dezse's knee surgery mentioned in the piece. To answer those questions, the surgery would be preventative more than anything, as it was something with his meniscus that the doctors at Ohio State wanted to take care of proactively before it became a problem. Josh told me that the knee currently gives him no problems, which is why he was able to push the surgery back and continue pitching while the Yankees assessed him.
I'll be back soon with more news as I have it, so stay tuned...
6/17/10, 11:07 PM: The annual signability probabilities run down is now up: http://yankees.scout.com/2/978342.html
6/16/10, 8:16 AM: Spoke to a source this morning and was told that the Yankees and 1st round pick Cito Culver have reached an agreement, but he is not officially signed. The only hold-ups are taking his physical and waiting until the shortstop officially graduates high school, which will be this Sunday, the 20th.
But again, the good news here is that an agreement has been reached, and barring any catastrophic findings in his physical, Cito Culver will be in the fold in very short order. Back with the annual signability odds post later tonight or tomorrow, as well as all the latest signing news. Stay tuned...
6/14/10, 9:04 PM: I got in touch with Evan Rutckyj today and asked him about the odds of him signing with the Yanks considering the fairly large number I had heard was floated. His response:
It basically depends on how I do over the summer, and I want it bad enough so I think everything will work out.
That's a piece of the hockey mentality that Damon loves.
On an unrelated note, Cardinals signability case Austin Wilson had a graduation party last night, with a performance by none other than big Snoop Dogg. I'm not kidding.
6/9/10, 7:47 PM: The draft has officially concluded, and the Yankees now have 50 baseball players to evaluate, negotiate with, and potentially sign over the next two months. Just after the draft ended I caught up with Damon to ask him about a few of the picks made on the lightning round that is Day 3 of the Rule 4 draft.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So it's all over - how are you feeling?
Damon Oppenheimer: Great. I feel really good about what we were able to draft and am excited about it. I think all the guys on the staff did a great job, put together a great effort, and hopefully we'll be able to sign all of the guys that we want to sign. I think this will end up being a good deal.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Tired?
Damon Oppenheimer: [laughs]I'm a little tired. I haven't seen my wife for quite a few days. She's been an absolute trooper throughout this whole thing so I'm going to take her to dinner tonight and spend a little time with her.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is it like on inside the war room for you guys? Listening in on that confrence call can be brutal at times, especially when you have to pay such close attention to it all. Does it ever get excruciating for you?
Damon Oppenheimer: You know, we're prepared, we have our board lined up and in motion, and we just go. It's better for us once it starts going rapidfire, because when it's five minutes between picks, or even a minute between picks, we really get antsy; we really like it when it moves fast.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are there a lot of phone calls going back and forth while you wait? Players? Advisors?
Damon Oppenheimer: There are a ton of phonecalls between the area scouts and us,the players and the area scouts, occasionally there are calls with an advisor, and there are calls with family. There are a lot of calls that are going on; the phones are working pretty hard.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Usually in the draft when a team comes out of an overnight break their first selection is pretty well scripted. What made Mike Gipson that guy for you today in the 31st round?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, you know usually at that point in a draft a college junior becomes a tougher sign, but he made it known to us that he wanted to sign and was going to be very reasonable, so that made it easy for us. He's a guy we feel can pitch, get better, and hopefully move up in the system, so hum coming out and saying he wanted to play made the difference. It can make the difference between a guy that gets drafted and signed, and a guy who might not get drafted at all.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Keenan Kish played at Germantown with Sean Coyle, who had a very close relationship with Matt Hyde. Did Keenan have that same type of relationship?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, Kish has been a guy that we've known going back to last summer. He's a very personable kid and a great, great young man. We'll watch him during the summer and we'll see what happens. I hope he becomes a Yankee, that something can get worked out, but if not it at least has given us two more months to continue to establish this relationship, and maybe that makes a difference in three years.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So it sounds like you went into this signability pick with a lot more knowledge of the player than, say, the Kevin Jordan one?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, Keenan came to our workout at Staten Island the other day and he and I actually talked. I told him, "listen, we know you're signability is high and that you have a good college option, so the idea for us, if we're the team that drafts you, is to watch you this summer with the idea that we might try and make a run at you and sign you." He said he was perfectly comfortable with that and if it happened he would be really happy to be a Yankee. He's been with us, so yes, we know him and have a good relationship.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: 35th round pick Will Oliver will turn 23 in about a month. He was drafted by the Rays back in 2005 in the 46th round, didn't sign, and when you picked him it said he played at Palomar CC now, but I couldn't find any record of him there. What is his story?
Damon Oppenheimer: This was a quality job by Dave Keith, our area scout in southern California, to stay on a guy that he saw pitch in the fall. He pitched in the fall at Palomar college, but had an episode with his grades where he wasn't eligible. Dave didn't forget about him and convinced the kid to come down to Tampa to throw a bullpen for us before the draft. He threw the bullpen, we liked what we saw enough to draft him, and he's going to sign and get started down there. He hasn't had a lot of innings so we're going to approach him like he's a younger guy even though his age says something different - we're going to give him a shot in the GCL, and it's up to him to produce.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What was the stuff you saw in that bullpen?
Damon Oppenheimer: It was a short bullpen; he threw probably about 30 pitches for us. The fastball was up to 92 MPH and he had some tightness to a breaking ball, so at that point in the draft when you get a chance at a tool like that you jump on it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: James Ramsay missed his junior year with a torn ACL, but he came back this season and played in Brandon, FL, which is right in your backyard there in Tampa. Is this the kind of selection akin to a NY kid, where because you're right there you get to see him more?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, that's the kind of pick that starts with an area scout, Jeff Deardorff, and also John Kremer, who kept us in the loop and kept us reminded about him. Once again, this was a kid that came over to the Tampa complex and worked out for us one night so we could get a good look at him. We'll see how things go, I know he's committed to the University of South Florida, and we also have to take into consideration if there is a spot and/or at-bats for him if he does sign - all that stuff comes into play here. The kid's a good athlete, took some good BP, and played well in a simulated game for us.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On that subject, it seemed like there were quite a few prep OF taken over the course of the three days. How do you reconsile all of these talented young outfielders? Will you have to pick and choose?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, obvioussly you can't sign them all because there just isn't enough space and there aren't enough at-bats to be had, but what we're hoping is that someone forces our hand to sign them by the way they play this summer. We're going to be heavily scouting all these guys and we're hoping they go out and earn that number they want to sign.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The last pick of the entire draft was Matt Rice, who also happens to be a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship. Were you guys very close to him, or was this simply a value pick at that point?
Damon Oppenheimer: Mike Gibbons, the area scout in that region, know his players as good as anybody, and he know his guys inside and out. So he knows Matt, knows him well, and we know his situation. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but we're talking about a kid who has performed, has tools, and is obviously a bright guy as a Rhodes Scholar. This is someone who has performed well enough, earned it, and deserves to be drafted and have that. Whether we're able to sign him away from being a Rhodes Scholar - or if he evern wants to sign - we don't know yet.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Speaking of great kids, Shane was drafted by the Red Sox. What was that whole process like for you guys considering the uniqueness of tthe situation?
Damon Oppenheimer: Shane Rowland is a good player and deserved to be drafted, and deserved to be drafted higher than he went based solely on his talent. Donnie and I spoke about this situation a long time ago before this season even started. With the depth in catching we have at the lower levels this didn't afford itself to be the right spot for a talented young catcher, and both Donnie and I concurred on that. As with any draft pick, nobody knows what will happen, but Shane is one of the hardest working kids I've ever seen - just an incredible work ethic and drive, and no matter what path he chooses, I know he'll find success. He really has earned this right, independent of his dad, to make the decision he now has in front of him.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many days until your next scouting trip for the 2011 draft?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, I know for sure that next Thursday I'll be at Tropicana field for Perfect Game National, but I'm not sure - there may be something before that.
I'll have more signing news in the days to come, as well as news and analysis on the picks. Stay tuned...
6/8/10, 10:17 PM: With the second day of the draft complete and the first thirty rounds in the books, the general direction of the Yankee draft haul started to emerge. High upside, young, atheltic kids with present baseball skills were woven throughout the day's selections, setting a positive mood for the draft's most ardent followers. With 20 rounds slated for tomorrow, I wanted to check in with Damon to get some quick feedback on some of the more interesting picks from today, especially the case of the DES with the huge bat taken in the 3rd round...
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Cito Culver, Angelo Gumbs, and Mason Williams in the first four rounds seemed to follow a theme of really good athletes with a present hit tool. Were those guys at the top of your draft board because of that, or did the selections just fall that way?
Damon Oppenheimer: Well, I think if you just take a look at what plays in the big leagues, it guys that are athletes who can hit. So obviously we put a good value on that, and it just happened to be a year where we were able to draft a few of those guys. It's something were pretty excited about.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Gumbs in particular seems like he's just dripping in athleticism. How much of a project is her?
Damon Oppenheimer: He's not raw, I mean he's from southern California. This guy is a good athlete who can play baseball. He swings the bat well, but he's like any high school kid - some days they have really good days and some days they're just average. We went in there and saw him and felt good about a lot of the things that he does. We feel really good about getting a guy like this that is athletic and is also a strong kid that can hit. The other thing about Gumbs and Culver which I'm not sure if you noticed, is that I think they're two out of the three youngest players in this draft, with Harper the third. I'm not totally positive about that, but at the very least these two guys are not only very talented, but also very young.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How does that extra year factor in for them as prospects?
Damon Oppenheimer: It sure helps. It sure helps guys to get started at a younger age, so we're excited about them. If you get those guys on a normal tract to the big leagues, and they're getting there at a young age, it can allow them to have an even longer career.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Robert Segedin looks to be a huge opportunity for you guys to land a big time hitter, and his profile reminded me a bit of a Matt LaPorta-type. Is that way off base?
Damon Oppenheimer: He's a good hitter. I don't know about making comparisons though, I'm just not into doing the comparables like that, but this guy's a good college hitter who can really hit and use the whole field. He ran a 6.85 60 for us the other day so we're going to talk about some rightfield, maybe a thirdbase/rightfield type of thing.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What about the injury concern with him and his back?
Damon Oppenheimer: We've had him checked out - we already had that looked at and we feel good about it. So we had some information and had it looked at and hopefully it stands up - things looked good.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: As a DES, is this a longshot in any way?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, no, no, we're going to make every effort to sign him, we think he wants to sign, and we're going to make a good run at it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Gabe Encinas already looks like he has fairly solid pitchability - do you see him as still having some projection?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, we see him as a projectable guy who is showing some flashes of really good stuff now. Hopefully we can get him signed, get him in the system and have a good projection guy.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: As long as we're talking about projection, Evan Rutckyj has to be at the top of that list. You had him in for a workout just before the draft - did that sell you on him?
Damon Oppenheimer: I personally saw him three times, so it wasn't just that workout. We're going to work on it and I'm sure if we're able to get this one done it will take some time. I'm optimistic, I mean this kid seems like he really wants to play - he made an effort to come down to a workout and has made it known that he wants to be scouted. His number that was floated around out there was pretty darn high, and I'm sure that's why he fell where he did. Now we'll just do the best we can to see if we can convince him it's time to start his career at the right price
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: It seems like you have an affinity for hockey players. Is that predicated on their mentality?
Damon Oppenheimer: I think kids that grow up playing hockey have a different toughness than others. They learn to play with pain and injured, they know that someone is waiting to take their job if they don't play, so sure, I think there is a different mentality in those kids. A hockey player can get his teeth knocked out and he'll play the rest of the game, and a baseball player could have his teeth knocked out and go on the DL [laughs], so there's a little different way of thinking about things from the hockey guys.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Kevin Jacob is one of your only Scott Boras clients this year. Do you expect him to be a difficult signing?
Damon Oppenheimer: You know what, we need to see him pitch and do some things to make sure he's healthy. He's going to go to Cape Cod and pitch up there, so that gives us a chance to watch him on a much better schedule than we were able to see at Georgia Tech. We'll see how things go and see if we can come to some sort of agreement on the right amount of money.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Kevin Jordan missed the first part of the season due to illness, and then played well right at the end. Was your selection of him based on scouting him when he played recently, or was it knowing him from before the missed time, being in the 19th round, and taking a shot?
Damon Oppenheimer: The latter. We knew what we had seen from Kevin Jordan coming into this season, and obviously he wasn't able to perform the way he would have liked to because of what happened, so now it's time to sit and watch him play this summer, see what we've got, and maybe make something happen.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Finally, the first ten pick you made were comprimised of seven high school kids, one DES, and only two college guys with "normal" leverage. Was that a conscious effort on your part?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, it's not conscious, and in fact I realized that it was highly high school, but I didn't know the exact numbers until you just said them. I think if you flood our system with these kind of guys - athletic guys in the middle of the diamond - you're going to have to get them at the high school level, and that's what we're trying to do. Our system is set up with Pat Roessler, Mark Newman, and the coaching staff to handle high school kids. Because we're able to handle them, that's where we have a chance to get impact players, so that's the idea.
6/8/10, 2:08 PM: We're throught the 4th round and one thing is very apparent - the Yankees are not throwing the hammer downn when it comes to money, but they are unquestionably NOT sacrificing ceilings in the process.
Cito Culver was cited as one of the youngest players in the draft last night, not turning 18 until August. Not to be outdone, the Yankees selected Angelo Gumbs in the 2nd round today, and he is actually two months younger than Culver. Being so young is great for developmental purposes, but more importantly the two players have tangible baseball skills to pair with their sparkling athleticism. Instead of seeking limited upside college picks for around slot, the Yankees staff has found extremely young and talented guys with impressive ceilings at the same cost.
3rd rounder Robert Segedin is not nearly as young as the first two picks, but his ceiling may be even higher than them. I'm going to go on record with this, and try to run the question by Damon later for confirmation, but Segedin is the type of hitter that could find himself in a situation comparable to Matt LaPorta if he goes back to school - his bat has the chance to be a legitimate force at the big league level. As a DES it will probably take a number in the $1-$2 million range to buy him out of his final two years of eligibility, but the Yankees were three for three to begin the 2010 draft in selecting players with very high ceilings.
In the 4th round they took yet another very athletic position player, Mason Williams, who at 18 is an old man compared to his Yankee Draft bretheren in rounds one and two. Again though, Williams is another athlete who has present baseball skills and a nice ceiling as a leadoff man in the future.
A common thread between the three high school kids is that they all have the ideal personality/character that the Yankees under Damon Oppenheimer have sought - strong willed, hard-charging kids that leave it all on the field when they play. Additionally they all play premium positions, and when you factor in the immense potential of Segedin's bat, the draft is off to a very nice start, and we still haven't seen any major signability cases (unless you count Segedin). Stay tuned...
6/8/10, 1:23 AM: Day one of the MLB Draft has concluded, and the Yankees chose local product, Cito Culver with their only selection on the day, #32 overall. Most people were expecting one of the more recognizable names in the draft, so when Cito Culver was announced as the Yankees selection many people were surprised. I can include myself in that group, but the surprise was only at the name. If you read my draft preview of what to expect, you would actually have been more prepared for this. The first three bullet points of that piece were:
I basically had it pegged conceptually yesterday, just without the name. Which brings up the biggest point of contention people have at the moment, and that is that Culver was a relative unknown in the early-round pre-draft talk. The big outcry is that regardless of how good he is as a player, he would have been available to be taken in a later round and the Yankees could have taken a bigger name at #32.
Well, instead of trying to research this all by myself, I figured that a better solution to any research I could do was to just go straight to the source and ask Damon for answers to the questions draft fans were posing about Culver. After speaking to him it became obvious that the only real beef a Yankee fan could have is if they didn't like Culver as a player, because the Yankees scouting director debunked just about everything else that fans have brought up to me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Ok, so right off the bat tell me what you like about Cito...
Damon Oppenheimer: We like a lot of things about this guy. We're talking about a kid that can play shortstop,can stay at shortstop,has a well above average arm, can run, has hit skills from both sides of the plate, and has a great makeup. We know his makeup as well as anybody because we had him last summer with our area code team, which is coached by Matt Hyde and his associate scout Tim Alexander, and they've known this guy for a long time. So we're pretty happy about this one, and the idea that we can get a guy who can play shortstop but is also a switch hitter with a good hit tool makes us very excited.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What about his power? Do you see that tool developing, and where does it presently stand?
Damon Oppenheimer: Yeah, we've seen him hit balls with wood a pretty good distance right now. It's high school so it's hard to say sometimes, but we've seen him hit homerun balls that just take off and go. We've scouted this guy a lot, I mean, we've had a ton of our staff in to see him. From all of our cross-check staff, to Billy Eppler who is our Pro Director, to myself, to Bill Livesey who has scouted for years and is on our staff, to Gary Denbo the former Major League hitting coach. We put a lot of time into scouting this kid.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You touched on his makeup a little bit earlier, and that was something that was questioned on the draft broadcast when the pick was made - the comment questioned his effort at times. Can you speak to that criticism?
Damon Oppenheimer: That couldn't be more different than what we found. We're very comfortable with his effort and his makeup; we know him well. If that was said about him I think it's very inaccurate.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Lastly, do you know if many other teams were in on him in say the top three rounds.
Damon Oppenheimer: Yes, absolutely. I can think of five off the top of my head, and I believe there were more.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So did you think there was any chance that he could have made it to pick #82?
Damon Oppenheimer: No, and I was later told by one of those teams that he wouldn't have if we hadn't taken him.
So there you have it, the only thing left for fans to complain about concerning this pick is the player himself, and the bottom line there is that almost none of us has seen him play. The Yankees selected an extremely athletic kid at a premium position who switch hits and has a present hit-tool. They also had a longstanding and deep relationship with him as both a player and a person, and the decision was made after multiple high-ranking scouts saw him play live. There's really not much to be upset about here, draftniks. As with any draftpick you never know for certain how he will pan out, but the end result of today is a talented shortstop prospect in the system, and more money to spend on days two and three.
And that concludes the first blog entry of the 2010 draft. As always, stay tuned...