The New York Yankees will not select until 51st overall when the 2011 MLB Draft begins Monday night. The Yankees have no first-round pick, having lost it to the Tampa Bay Rays when they signed free-agent reliever Rafael Soriano. The Yankees also lost the 44th pick for signing free-agent reliever Pedro Feliciano. The 51st pick, a 'sandwich' selection, is compensation for the Florida Marlins signing Javier Vazquez as a free agent.
As the draft approaches the Yankees will be looking to supplement an already strong minor-league system. In his pre-season ranking of minor-league system, Frankie Piliere of AOL Fanhouse ranked the Yankee system fourth among all 30 teams.
It's been awhile since the Yankees could legitimately claim to have one of baseball's best farm systems. This year they are undoubtedly part of that group. Jesus Montero is the best catching prospect in the game, and their collection of young arms -- headlined by Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman -- stacks up with any in baseball. There is more coming from the lower levels.
The Yankees are flush with catching prospects like Montero, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy. They have pitching, led by Manuel Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman.
What the Yankees do not have a lot of is positional talent at places other than catcher. They took high school outfielder Slade Heathcott No. 1 in 2009 and high school shortstop Cito Culver a year ago.
General manager Brian Cashman recently called draft day "the most important day of the year." That, of course, is a statement the Yankees would not have made a few years ago.
"We're going to have to sit out and wait for a little while," Cashman said. "But it's a deep enough Draft where I know Damon [Oppenheimer, vice president of amateur scouting] feels like we're still going to get access to some quality players."
Recent Yankee No. 1 Picks
- 2010 -- Cito Culver, SS (Class A Staten Island)
- 2009 -- Slade Heathcott, OF (Class A, Charleston)
- 2008 -- Gerrit Cole, RHP (Did not sign)
- 2007 -- Andrew Brackman, RHP (Class AAA, Scranton-Wilkes Barre)
- 2006 -- Ian Kennedy, RHP (Arizona Diamondbacks)
The Pittsburgh Pirates are expected to use the first pick in the draft on Cole, who went to UCLA in 2008 rather than sign with the Yankees. The first round and supplemental round will be held tonight, with the remainder of the draft split between Tuesday and Wednesday. Live coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET at MLB.com and MLB Network.