New York Yankees: Tracking Progress of Top 5 Active Draft Picks from Last Year
I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was the first day I opened my first pack of baseball cards. The pack was 1989 Topps. The first card I pulled was a Randy Johnson baseball card from when he was with the Seattle Mariners.
I thought, “Sheesh, this man looks scary…I wouldn’t want to face him on a bad day.”
Dante Bichette’s rookie card was also in this pack. It was significant because my dad said rookie cards were a baseball player’s most significant cards.
But after looking at Bichette’s rookie card, all I could think was, “Who would want to play for a team that boasts pink colors?” (That was in reference to the pink banner at the bottom of the card that said "Angels".)
That was stupid of me, since it was just part of the Topps design.
All I knew was to get the thing in a plastic sheet. Too bad overproduction deemed this rookie card worthless (tear).
Moving on. Nearly 25 years after Bichette made his major league debut, his son—same name but add a Junior to the end—was a first-round pick of the 2011 draft.
Dante Bichette Junior thus marks the beginning of this slideshow, which tracks the progress of the New York Yankees’ top five active draft picks from 2011.
This takes into account that the Yankees' second-round draft pick, Sam Stafford, did not sign with the Yankees. He will miss all of 2011 because of a tear in his throwing shoulder.
It also takes into account that Jordan Cote, the Yankees' third-round pick, still has not made his professional debut (though he will this spring in the GCL).
Dante Bichette Part Deux
Dante Bichette Jr.
This Florida native and third base prospect is hitting .242 with zero home runs and eight RBI in 17 South Atlantic League games. His OPS is .612.
This coming off his first professional season with the GCL Yankees, in which he hit a blistering .335 with 68 hits, four home runs and 48 RBI in 54 games.
Those numbers were good enough to earn Bichette a slew of honors, including the GCL Most Valuable Player Award and Baseball America rookie all-star honors.
While he's had a slow start, this Yankees' first-round pick has all the tools to regain form and have another successful season.
The Yankees' 2011 fourth-round pick is an 18-year-old shortstop named Matthew Duran. But the 6'1", 205-pound New Yorker has yet to play a professional game this season.
Duran is coming off an impressive 2011 season. On the year, Duran hit .301 with 25 hits, three home runs and 17 RBI in 23 games with the GCL Yankees.
Though not reflected in his numbers, scouts were impressed with Duran’s power potential.
Defensively, Duran plays well at shortstop, but may end up playing either corner infield positions going forward. One thing is for certain, the Yankees will be tracking this young man’s performance closely.
Is Greg Bird the Word?
Nobody in the Yankees organization can answer that question at this point. The jury is still out on this 6'3", 215-pound catching prospect from Aurora, Colorado.
As it stands now, the Yankees plan on sticking with Bird as a catcher. This is despite rumblings within the organization Bird would be better fit to play first base.
Physically speaking, Bird is a good left-handed hitter with raw power and solid catching skills. Statistically, there is not enough data at the professional level to see if his power will translate.
Yankee fans will have to check back later in the season to see if this fifth-round draft pick is the word.
Look Inside the Cave
Andrew Cave, 19, is the lone active pitcher in this top five. This 6'0", 180-pound sixth round pick lefty from Hampton, Virginia, has potential to become a good pitcher for the Yankees.
Overall, Cave has good stuff. He throws an above-average fastball and slider, and is working to improve his forkball. Cave has decent movement on his pitches, but his control has been an issue in the past.
While there are no official professional statistics available, scouting reports indicate Cave has potential.
Say Hello to Bubba Jones
Austin “Bubba” Jones (not to be confused with Kansas City Royals stud prospect Bubba Starling) was the Yankees' seventh-round draft pick out of Seattle.
Drafted as a catcher, Jones worked hard in 2011 to get used to life in professional baseball. Jones is a 6'1", 205-pound ballplayer with good hitting and catching skills.
Like Greg Bird, Jones has raw power that if tapped could yield some good results in the future. In his first season with the GCL Yankees, Jones hit .250 with 13 hits in 15 games.
To take that next step, Jones needs to improve his plate discipline and cut down on his strikeouts.