Yanks seek late gem with 18th overall pick

New York could select prep righty, college bat with first choice

Yanks seek late gem with 18th overall pick

The 2016 Draft will take place from Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 77 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,500 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Yankees, whose first selection is the 18th overall pick.

In about 50 words
The Yankees head into the Draft looking closely at pitching as well as players with tools at the skill positions in the middle of the field, while weighing the injury risks. They will seek to replenish depth in the system, both to help the big league club and to use as future tradeable assets.

The scoop
Compared to last year's Draft pool, Yankees vice president and director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer said that he considers the Class of '16 to be a notch below, believing that there seems to be less high-end talent and depth. That made it all the more important for the team's scouting department to dig in and do their homework over the last few months, hoping to uncover a few late gems.

"Sometimes you're going to have guys down the line that turn out to be just as good; you just don't know it right away," Oppenheimer said. "When we took Brett Gardner in the third round [in 2005], you thought there were guys ahead of him that were better. It didn't turn out that way. I'm sure that we'll have some surprises."

First-round buzz
In his most recent mock Draft, MLB.com's Jim Callis had the Yankees selecting prep right-hander Forrest Whitley from Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio, Texas, calling it a "dark horse" pick. There are mixed signals coming out of New York's camp, as they have also interest in prep right-handers Ian Anderson from Clifton Park, N.Y., and Kevin Gowdy from Santa Barbara, Calif.

Other indications are that the Yankees may want a college bat such as Wake Forest's Will Craig or Virginia catcher Matt Thaiss. Oppenheimer said that it is too early to tell if they'll be leaning toward a pitcher or hitter with their first overall selection, since there are 17 picks ahead of them.

Kaprielian fans Walker

Money matters
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

To sign their first 10 picks, the Yankees have been allocated a pool total of $5,831,200, with $2,441,600 to spend on their top choice.

"I think the challenge becomes that other teams have so much more," Oppenheimer said. "They have more in front of you and they have more behind you because of what they possibly could do at the top. We try not to let the signability part get in the way of the evaluation, but at some point it's going to affect who we take."

Shopping list
The Yanks' Draft strategy is much the same as in years past, according to Oppenheimer, who says they always go in looking to take the best available player at each spot, judging their potential Major League impact, traits and tools. Past performance and makeup will factor in as well.

"You always need pitching, and you're so vulnerable when you take it because of the injury risk," Oppenheimer said. "You need middle-of-the-field guys, but there's a real short shopping list every year for middle-of-the-field impact. It's not like you can sit there and say, 'OK, we need a third baseman, so we're going to try to draft one.'"

Trend watch
The Yankees have leaned heavily toward college players with their first 10 picks in each of the last four years, taking seven players from the collegiate ranks last year and nine the year before. In each of the last two Drafts, the Yanks' strategy has been to use their first selection on a college pitcher whom they believed could be fast-tracked to the Majors; Jacob Lindgren in 2014 and James Kaprielian last year.

Lindgren escapes jam to end game

Recent Draft history

Rising fast
While much of the prospect hype this spring revolved around the likes of No. 1 and 2 prospects Jorge Mateo and Aaron Judge, outfielder Dustin Fowler made a lasting impression in camp. An 18th-round pick in 2013 who is with Double-A Trenton, Fowler is rated to have some of the best tools among Yankees farmhands, with a left-handed swing and plus speed to hit for average.

Cinderella story
Outfielder Ben Gamel was a 10th-round selection in 2010 out of Bishop Kenney High School in Jacksonville, Fla. Despite being overshadowed by some of the bigger names in the organization and being left unprotected for the Rule 5 Draft, Gamel has clawed to the top of the farm system, bypassing other left-handed-hitting options to earn his first taste of the Majors this season.

In The Show
Five members of the Yankees' current roster are products of the team's selections in the Draft: Dellin Betances (2006, 8th round), Gardner ('05, 3rd round), Nick Goody ('12, 6th round), Rob Refsnyder ('12, 5th round) and Austin Romine ('07, 2nd round).

The Yankees' recent top picks
2015: Right-hander Kaprielian, Class A Advanced Tampa (injured)
2014: Left-hander Lindgren, Class A Advanced Tampa
2013: Third baseman Eric Jagielo, Double-A Pensacola (Reds)
2012: Right-hander Ty Hensley (injured)
2011: Dante Bichette Jr., Double-A Trenton

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.