Although the Yankees’ farm system hosts several pitchers with high-ceilings, it looks like they’ll target another hard-thrower in tonight’s first round.
That pitcher will most likely come from the college ranks and could potentially get to the major leagues sooner rather than later.
Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo projects that the Yankees will select Jared Shuster with the 28th overall pick. Shuster, 21, is a southpaw who most recently pitched at Wake Forest.
Baseball America has him at the 43rd-best prospect in the draft, and Keith Law from The Athletic has him as the 26th-best.
“Shuster could sneak into the back of the first considering his progress over the last year,” Collazo said in his report. “With refined control and a fastball that gets more into the mid-90s, Shuster has impressive starter traits with a better ceiling than teams would have expected a year ago at this time.”
In four starts, he went 2-1 with a 3.76 ERA before the college season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He struck out 43 hitters in 26.1 innings.
Right-handers Clayton Beeter (Texas Tech) and Cole Wilcox (Georgia) have also been linked to the Yankees.
Before the shutdown, Wilcox led Georgia with a 1.57 ERA and 32 strikeouts. His fastballs run between 93-97 miles-per-hour, and he’s hit triple digits in the past. He also throws a slider in the mid-80s and a changeup.
He’s Baseball America’s 24th-best draft prospect.
Beeter, also 21, is Baseball America’s 51st-best prospect but is getting a lot of hype pre-Draft. He struck out 33 batters in 21 innings this past season, walking only four. In 2019, his BB/9 was 1.7, so he dramatically improved in that area. His fastball, slider, and curveball are all above average and his changeup could be improved but it’s decent.
He produces a high spin rate as well, which teams who pay attention to analytics love.
He underwent Tommy John surgery before college, but the Yankees have shown that they’re not afraid to draft pitchers who have undergone the surgery before. Clarke Schmidt had Tommy John but is now the organization’s No. 2 prospect.
Bryce Jarvis (Duke) and Slade Cecconi (Miami) are two arms the Yankees should pay attention to as well.
Jarvis was drafted by the Yankees in the 37th round of last year’s draft but opted to stay in college. He improved, getting his fastball up to 96 miles-per-hour and lowered his walks. In 27 innings, he had 40 strikeouts and a 0.67 ERA and even had a 15-strikeout perfect game against Cornell.
Cecconi pitched to a 3.80 ERA in four starts with a K/9 rate of 12.7. His fastball reaches 96, and his slider comes in at 87. He needs to improve his third pitch, which could be either a changeup or curveball. If he develops those two pitches, he could project as a middle/upper rotation starter, but if not he’ll be a bullpen piece.
Some experts have the Yankees taking position players in the first round. Baylor shortstop Nick Loftin, high schooler Ed Howard, and Arizona catcher Austin Wells have all been looked at as players the Yankees should consider.
The overarching consensus though is that the Yankees will take Louisville righty, Bobby Miller.
Law has him as the 57th-best draft prospect but mocked him to the Yankees.
“Miller can show big velocity on a four-seamer and a power slider, but does so with a pretty high-effort delivery that includes a very stiff landing on his front leg, and hasn’t shown average control at any point in his college career,” Law said in his report. “His fastball seems to play up in the zone despite just average spin rates, and his changeup is a distant third pitch. He’s an interesting college pitcher because of the velocity and arm speed, but there’s definitely reliever risk here.”
In three seasons at Louisville, he went 15-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 175 strikeouts in 170 innings. He went 2-0 with 2.31 ERA and 40 strikeouts in his shortened-junior season.
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel also has Miller to the Yankees.
“His command (throwing) quality strikes is just okay, and he’s a power pitcher by nature,” McDaniel said to NJ.com. “So those things in combination with his longer arm action, some scouts and I worry that he’s more of a multi-inning reliever. Longer arm actions make strike-throwing and consistency with a slider harder to accomplish over 100-plus pitches. Changing arm actions is often more trouble than it’s worth.”
McDaniel and Law both have Beeter, Wilcox, and Jarvis off the board before the Yankees pick at 28.
Miller’s fastball sits between 94 and 98 miles-per-hour with an above-average slider. His delivery causes him to have a longer-arm action, which worries some scouts. Although due to his numbers, he was one of the draft’s biggest risers.
There’s risk in this potential move, but the Yankees did it with Schmidt back in 2017 and it’s paid off so far. Could the same happen with Miller?