There will be baseball this week, sort of. The first round of the 2020 MLB Draft kicks off on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, while the next four rounds will take place Thursday at 5 p.m. ET.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the MLB to make some dramatic changes to the draft this year. Instead of the usual 40 rounds, the draft will be just five rounds. This has been widely criticized for how it will impact thousands of amateur players for the next few years.
Slot money will be identical to what it was during the 2019 draft, and undrafted players can sign for a maximum of only $20,000, a far cry from the usual $125,000.
One team affected by the widespread changes are the New York Yankees, who have the 28th overall pick tonight. While they were able to sign Gerrit Cole during the offseason, they forfeited their second and fifth-round picks as a result. Usually, it wouldn’t make a huge difference to lose out on two picks, but in just a five-round draft, each pick matters.
So what are the Yankees looking for? What do they need to improve? What don’t they need to improve?
The Yankees’ biggest strength in their farm system is starting pitching. Right-handers Clarke Schmidt (No. 62) and Deivi Garcia (No. 65) are both ranked in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects and are very close to cracking the major league roster. Mike King is ranked as the Yankees 13th best prospect by MLB Pipeline, and while he’s not as close to the majors as Schmidt and Garcia, he could be a late-season call-up.
At the High-A level are Luis Medina and Luis Gil, who both hit triple digits last year. Alexander Vizcaino and Roansy Contreras are also worth pointing out, as well as Albert Abreu although he’s had his struggles as he’s moved up the farm system.
They’re pretty strong on position players as well. Shortstops Kyle Holder and Anthony Volpe are high-end defenders, and Oswald Peraza is the club’s fourth-best prospect. Catcher Anthony Seigler, who was the team’s 2018 first-round pick, is a solid defender and is only 20-years-old, and Estevan Florial is a stud defender in center field at only 22-years-old. He was once at the top of the Yankees farm system but has struggled since, but the Yankees have seemed hesitant in the past to trade him.
They also boast Jasson Dominguez, the 17-year-old whose nickname is “The Alien” and has been compared to Mike Trout and Bo Jackson. He’s already their top prospect. Not much to be said there
There’s not much offense at the upper levels of their farm system though. There’s not a single Yankee position player in MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospects. They could potentially look at offensive first basemen in the third and fourth rounds of the draft as Luke Voit and Mike Ford are at the major league level (as well as DJ LeMahieu but he plays second and third base too), and 26-year-old Chris Gittens in the minors, but no else of note.
They could also look to improve their catching. Backup Kyle Higashioka is a fan-favorite, but he’s unproven at the major league level. Seigler is not nearly major league ready, and Josh Breaux (2018 second-rounder) is in the same position. Antonio Gomez most recently played in the Gulf Coast League and put up decent numbers, but he’s only 18 years old.