New York Yankees: Updating Progress of Top 5 Active Draft Picks from 2011
In April I wrote a piece cataloging the progress of the top five active New York Yankees draft picks from 2011.
Being so early in the season, I was able to provide a brief synopsis for each pick. Yet, from a statistical standpoint, many of the draft picks had barely taken to the field.
Now July, Yank prospects Jordan Cote (pitcher), Dante Bichette Jr. (third base), Matt Duran (third base), Greg Bird (first base) and Andrew Cave (pitcher) have moved into their respective seasons.
Thus, in this slideshow I will provide feedback as to how each pick is progressing.
It should be noted that Yankees second-round pick Sam Stafford did not sign with the team. And at the time of my last piece, Cote had not yet started his debut in the GCL. And sixth-round pick Cave is currently on the 60-day DL.
Therefore, I will highlight the Yanks seventh-round selection, catching prospect Austin Jones in this slideshow.
Here we go!
Dante Bichette Jr.
The Yankees think very highly of 19-year-old third base prospect Dante Bichette Jr.
While still a raw talent, this young man with a strong arm has great potential to be an excellent big league player.
Bichette is coming off his first pro season with the GCL Yankees, in which he hit .335 (68-for-203), with four homers and 48 RBI in 54 games. Bichette earned GCL’s MVP Award and Baseball America Rookie All-Star honors.
Now at Class-A, Bichette has struggled somewhat for the Charleston RiverDogs. Through 78 games, he is batting .249 (77-for-309) with two home runs and 32 RBI. His OBP/SLG/OPS is .326/.327/.652.
While Bichette was not expected to struggle like he has, this Yankees pick has all the tools to regain form and end the 2012 season on a high note.
Yankees' third-round pick Jordan Cote is off to a terrific start to his big league pitching career.
This 6’5”, 215 lbs. right-hander has dominated GCL hitters. In two starts, this physically imposing 19-year-old is 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA. In 18.2 innings of work, Cote has struck out 17 batters and walked just three. Opposing hitters are batting just .194 against him.
Keep an eye on Cote’s progress, for it appears as if the sky is the limit with him.
Fourth-round pick Matthew Duran, on the other hand, has struggled mightily in the second year of his pro career.
Initially selected as a shortstop by the Yankees, this 19-year-old New York native moved to third base for the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League.
Though still early, this 6’1”, 215 lbs. infielder is batting just .154 (10-for-65) with zero home runs and two RBI. His OBP/SLG/OPS is a measly .188/.169/.358.
Like Bichette, Duran is coming off an impressive 2011 season. That year Duran hit .301 with 25 hits, three home runs, and 17 RBI in 23 games with the GCL Yankees.
Like Bichette, I would monitor Duran’s progress closely to see if his struggles are more a byproduct of transitioning to the next level than not having what it takes to succeed.
As a sidebar, does Duran not strikingly look like a younger version of Mark Teixeira?
While the Yankees boast Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli at higher levels of its minor league system, Greg Bird provides this team another intriguing catching prospect.
Imposing to say the least, Bird stands at 6’3” with a 215 lbs. frame.
As it stands now, the Yankees will stick with Bird as a catcher. This despite rumblings within the organization Bird would be better fit to play first base.
Physically, Bird is a good left-handed hitter with raw power and solid catching skills.
Statistically, Bird has played just four games for the GCL Yankees this season. Currently, he is batting just .200 (3-for-15) with zero home runs and one RBI. Bird’s OBP/SLG/OPS is .368/.200/.568.
While the Kansas City Royals boast hot prospect Bubba Starling, the Yankees boast Austin "Bubba" Jones.
Jones was the Yankees seventh-round draft pick out of Seattle, Washington. Drafted as a catcher, Jones has made the transition to first base this season for the GCL Yankees. Currently, Jones is batting .270 (20-for-74) with zero homers, seven doubles and seven RBI. His OBP/SLG/OPS is .316/.365/.681.
One of the biggest things Jones needs to improve upon is his plate discipline. In 2011, for example Jones had 17 strikeouts and five walks in 15 games. In ‘12, Jones has 17 strikeouts and five walks in 18 games.
With these strikeout/walk numbers, I guess one could at least say Jones is consistent.
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