Yankees Lock Up First Round Pick Heathcott and Others Before Deadline

August 17, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

As I’m sure you know, today was the last day for teams to sign their draft picks (unless they just graduated college). If a player doesn’t sign until the last day, that means that they were a signability case. That is a clear indication that the Yankees like these players and paid them over the slot recommendations to sign them.

Slade Heathcott: First-round pick, center fielder, signed for $2.2 million. Both Keith Law and Baseball America had him ranked as the 72nd best prospect in the draft. He is a very athletic center fielder who is also a pretty polished baseball player.

Heathcott will report to the Yankees Gulf Coast League team. I don’t think he was necessarily worth the over slot money he received, but the Yankees had no leverage with him, and did what it took to get him signed.

While in previous years, the Yankees took top talents who fell because of signability issues, this was not a case of that. Heathcott was considered very signable, and was not a top ten talent like Gerrit Cole was.

J.R. Murphy: Second-round pick, catcher, signed for $1.25 million. Keith Law had him ranked 92nd while Baseball America had him ranked 95th. As the 76th overall pick, it wasn’t much of a reach. However, from what I’ve heard about Murphy, it seems like he was sold short a bit by both of these rankings.

He’s a converted outfielder so he is more athletic than your typical catcher. This also means he has a lot of time to improve behind the plate. He has gotten great reviews on his batting eye and plate discipline. While his power hasn’t been great, that is often the last tool to develop.

Again, I think if this wasn’t a compensation pick, the Yankees would not have had to shell out as much money. Since it was, Oppenheimer and Co. did the right thing by paying him the extra few hundred thousand dollars to lock him up. He’ll head to the GCL Yankees along with Heathcott.

Caleb Cotham: Fifth-round pick, RHP, signed for $675,000. Cotham is my favorite pitcher that the Yankees drafted so I am ecstatic to see him signed. I think that he was a relative bargain at that price for his upside. He is coming from a big program at Vanderbilt where he wasn’t great, but his strikeout numbers were.

In the Cape Cod League, he pitched 13 dominant innings without allowing a run. Coming from a big college program where he was pitching against metal bats, Cotham has the ability to move very fast if he puts it together. He will head to Staten Island.

Graham Stoneburner: 14th-round pick, RHP, signed for an unknown amount. Stoneburner definitely has a live arm and regularly touches the mid-90s, but he does not have polished secondary stuff. Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues even went as far as saying that he has the best pure arm among Yankees draftees and may even be a better prospect than J.R. Murphy.

Personally, I think Cotham is the best pitching prospect the Yankees landed in the draft, but Stoneburner was a steal in the 14th round. I would consider giving him the edge because Graham Stoneburner is an awesome name for a pitcher, though.

Bryan Mitchell: 16th-round pick, RHP, signed for $800,000. I honestly don’t know much about Mitchell, but I do know that the Yankees drafted him with the intent on following him in a summer league.

This indicates that the Yankees liked enough of what they saw to offer him such a large contract and keep him away from UNC. I have a lot of faith in Oppenheimer, so I’m sure there is a lot to like about Mitchell.

Joseph Talerico: 21st-round pick, infielder/outfielder, signed for unknown amount. Another guy I don’t know too much about, but NoMaas’ Lane Meyer asked Damon Oppenheimer a question about him and got some positives back:

He’s got nice tools—he doesn’t have anything that’s really plus and stands out as a huge tool, but he’s got athleticism, some baseball ability, and his tools have a chance to be good tools, solid-average tools.  Going into it when we drafted him I would have thought we would have had him signed by now.  What we perceived as his expectations when we drafted him didn’t quite turn out to be that way once we started negotiating. 

To me, this means that the Yankees didn’t think he would take that much to sign. I’m not sure if he was the one who broke and accepted the Yankees lesser offer or if they decided he was worth whatever his demands were.

Given the way it seems that the Yankees were running on a budget and couldn’t pursue other guys they were interested in, I’m going to guess Talerico gave in and accepted whatever it was that the Yankees were offering.

Evan DeLuca: 44th-round-pick, LHP, signed for $500,000. Got word of this signing very late, but if you are signing a 44th round pick for 2nd or 3rd round money, that is a good indicator of his talent level.

DeLuca is a 6’1 lefty who sits in the low 90s but can hit 95 on the gun. It’s exciting to see the Yankees add a left handed pitching prospect this late in the draft.


There were some other players that I had hoped the Yankees would sign, namely Tyler Lyons and Aaron Meade. That said, it is always great to see the Yankees land some signability guys in the late rounds. While most of these guys don’t work out, a few do, and that is what it’s all about.

All of these young guys are players to watch the rest of this season and next. I’ll be sure to give you updates on what they are doing in my weekly minor league recaps every Sunday.

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