LADY AT THE BAT: Through The Years: The Yankees & The First Year Player Draft

Monday, June 10, 2013

Through The Years: The Yankees & The First Year Player Draft

On Saturday, the Yankees' 22nd round draft pick from over 20 years ago notched his 250th career win. That same year Pettitte was drafted, the first round pick was Carl Everett. He didn't turn out to be as likable or successful as Pettitte, but had a respectable 14 year career in the big leagues, including two all star appearances and one world championship.

As the Yankees were trying to hold on to the lead Saturday night, Pettitte's son was himself drafted by the Yankees in the 37th round. This year's draft saw the Houston Astros take pitcher Mark Appel as the first pick overall, while the Yankees managed to score two compensatory first round picks.

Although the draft is followed closely by the average fan now more than ever, I'll have to admit, I paid it no mind this year. I've had my share of prospect adoration and, through that, realized how the draft is much more irrelevant than it is a predictor of any one team's future success. Unless you score the rare phenoms like Jeter, Harper, or Strasburg, it will be the players drafted in later rounds that will make an impact on a team, or players that were not in the draft at all. Present day MLB leaders like Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez, and Jean Segura were amateur free agent signings.

In 1996, when the Yankees started their most recent run of championships, less than a quarter of the everyday guys were home grown. Four of those players were not from the draft; they were amateur free agent signings: Bernie Williams, Jim Leyritz, Ramiro Mendoza, and Mariano Rivera. As the frequency of championships has dwindled and fans are seeing the Yankees having to grind out late season wins to make it to the post season, interestingly, there has been an increased presence of Yankee farm hands among the active rosters. By the 2000 championship, over a third of the roster was made up of players that were drafted by the Yankees and had made their way through the farm system--from core players like Jeter, Rivera, and Pettitte to memorable youngsters like Shane Spencer and Ricky Ledee. In 2009, over half of the everyday players were Yankee bred. Aside from the "Core Four", we saw utility players like Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, and Brett Gardner perform key roles in getting the Yankees their 27th World Series Championship.

In the process of winning four championships in five seasons, that accomplishment only needed one first round draft pick--Derek Jeter. We didn't see game changing first round draft picks on the active roster again until Hughes and Joba came on the scene. Now that almost half of today's active roster is made up of Yankees farm system alumni, it's still not the first rounders making it to the bigs.

In yesterday's win over the Mariners, a 2008 14th rounder gave up only 3 hits in 6 innings (David Phelps), a 2005 3rd rounder went 4 for 5 (Gardner), a 2006 17th rounder got the win (David Robertson), and a player that wasn't even part of the draft the year he was signed got the save (Mariano Rivera). High draft picks like Andrew Brackman, CJ Henry, Jeffrey Marquez, or Eric Duncan were nowhere to be found. Proof positive that the MLB draft is, indeed, more of an irrelevant event than a predictor of future success.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Looks like you and Deadspin are of a mind today: