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Yanks have hit-and-miss draft

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Deep pockets help land talent; questionable picks made

Monday at John's Pizza in Midtown Manhattan I had lunch with a National League scout to talk Yankees draft and other Pinstripe matters. Here are some highlights.

Our man did extensive work on the draft. He didn't think the Yankees had a great day.

"Gerrit Cole was a good pick and a good value. He has a 70 fastball [on the scouting scale that goes up to 80]. That's as high as I go. His secondary stuff is lacking but that's not unusual for high school kids because when you throw 96 mph there you don't need another pitch.

I've seen enough of his other stuff to think it projects as at least average with his slider having the potential of being another plus pitch."

He did not like Jeremy Bleich of Stanford at No. 44 overall. "Not a lot of upside with that pick. I think that was a pretty bad overdraft. He's strictly a finesse lefty with no plus pitches. He might end up having a bunch of average pitches, which I guess is enough when you're a lefty. But I see him as a No. 5 starter, maybe. And not on the Yankees, or at least not on the Yankees the way they want to be."

Next up was Mississippi reliever Andrew Bittle at the 75th pick. "He's strictly a setup guy. Of course, you need them. But if you're going to take a reliever in the first couple of rounds, he should project as a closer."

Virginia second baseman David Adams (106th overall) "might have been the best pure second baseman in the draft, which shows you what a down year it is at the position. But he's only going to be a regular on a second-division club. On the Yanks, he projects as a utility guy because he can also probably handle short well enough as a fill in."

Our scout liked Brett Marshall the most of the remaining picks. The high school righty from Texas fell to 200, "but he was in my top 100. This is strictly a signability issue. The Yankees are a good bet to come up with enough cash" to persuade him to forgo college.

Marshall reportedly gained 10 mph on his fastball, but we're warned not to take these types of reports too seriously.

"Yes, sure, guys gain some muscle on their fastball; but when you see a report of a guy throwing 96 or 98 like it's big news, it almost always means that he might have hit it once or twice. This is really bad for the industry and the player because then the guy gets into the Majors and people think something is wrong with him. Look at Phil Hughes and Homer Bailey being advertised as having huge fastballs when they simply don't. And they never did."

He saw Joba Chamberlain in person on Sunday and so I just had to inquire.

"The expectations were out of hand. It's relatively easy to be a reliever. Imagine if the Cubs told Carlos Zambrano to go out there for an inning and let loose. He'd be unreal. So what Chamberlain did as a reliever doesn't prove much to me. You really have to steeply discount what you've seen in the pen. I think he'll be a good starter. But there are definitely still going to be rough patches because he is still too one-dimensional in his approach.

"Chamberlain vs. Clay Buchholz? I'll still take Buchholz, even with his struggles this year and despite the fact he's in the Minors and not pitching great there. I'm more certain that Buchholz has more plus-complementary stuff and thus can keep giving hitters different looks deep into games."

What about the Yankees prospects in 2007?

"The Yankees are in serious trouble this year and in the foreseeable future. I assume the Red Sox are going to do what's necessary to remain competitive at a very high level. Then you have the Rays, who are set up for greatness like no other team in the game. First of all, they're good right now. In thinking about how they're going to develop premium prospects like Jake McGee and David Price, I'm looking ahead to August and trying to get a sense for whether they're going to be in contention. I can't imagine they won't be because who is going to step up and get really hot and knock them out of the Wild Card race? The Tigers? The Yankees? Don't see that. Both teams are too old.

"McGee, right now, is next in line if they needed a starter, I'm convinced. He's the kind of guy who, while not blowing away the competition in Double-A, is going to step right up and pitch at every level the way he's pitching now.

His numbers are going to translate pretty easily. Now, that's about as high praise you can give a young starter. But Price [like McGee a lefty] is even better. I see him coming up in August and getting 10 or 11 starts and having something like a 3.00 ERA with about a K per inning and relatively few walks. Then, in 2009, he's in the rotation all year and establishing himself as an elite big-league talent.

"And there are other guys behind him. Wade Davis is overrated but projects as a solid starter. Everyone forgets about Jeff Niemann, who is finally healthy and just struck out 10 guys in six innings with no walks in a Triple-A start last week. And they don't even have room for these guys because [Andy] Sonnanstine and [Edwin] Jackson are capable guys and developing well themselves.

"But it's more than pitching. They have premium young guys like [b.J.] Upton and [Evan] Longoria and now Tim Beckham [the No. 1 overall pick this year]. I see in Beckham Hanley Ramirez with a good enough glove to stick at short and play plus defense. But Beckham projects that type of speed and power. It's just an embarrassment of riches in Tampa Bay and that's going to make things tougher for the Yanks well into the next decade."

Michael Salfino is a nationally syndicated columnist and analyst and a regular contributor to SNY.tv.

What a surprise... SNY critical of the Yankees draft... cant wait to see YES networks review of the Mets draft.

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"Chamberlain vs. Clay Buchholz? I'll still take Buchholz, even with his struggles this year and despite the fact he's in the Minors and not pitching great there. I'm more certain that Buchholz has more plus-complementary stuff and thus can keep giving hitters different looks deep into games."

Let me get this straight. Buchholz is in the Minors, Joba is in the Majors. Clay is not pitching great there, Joba is acclimating himself to a new role - Mid-season.

But he takes Buchholz. Got it.:rolleyes:

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