Spotlight on the Yankees’ Top 5 Picks in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft

According to Bleacher Report, the New York Yankees had the 20th-best farm system following the 2019 Major League Baseball (MLB) trade deadline. Despite not having a losing season since 1992, when it posted a win-loss record of 76-86, the Yankees has been able to draft and develop its own talent and acquire top prospects from other organizations.

Right-handed pitcher Luis Gil, for instance, regarded as New York’s second-best prospect by Bleacher Report, was acquired from Minnesota in 2018 in exchange for outfielder Jake Cave. This past June, the Yankees organization had another opportunity to improve its minor league depth through the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft.

Below are its first five picks in the 40-round draft:

1. Anthony Volpe

Notably, 25 of the Yankees’ 41 selections (the organization had an additional competitive balance pick between the first and second round as a result of trading Sonny Gray to Cincinnati the year prior) were pitchers.

However, the team used its first pick, 30th overall, to draft shortstop Anthony Volpe. He is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound shortstop out of Delbarton School in New Jersey. Volpe registered a .488 batting average to go along with 34 runs batted in (RBI) and 17 stolen bases in his senior season.

Regarded as a skilled defensive infielder with above-average footwork and a smooth and fluid throwing ability, Volpe verbally committed to Vanderbilt University. However, he instead opted to sign with the Yankees.

He spent his first season of professional baseball with the Yankees’ Appalachian League affiliate in Pulaski, Virginia. There, he had a .215 batting average as well as two home runs, 11 RBI, and six stolen bases in 34 games. He also drew 23 walks compared to 38 strike outs.

2. TJ Sikkema

New York used its competitive balance pick, 38th overall, to select left-handed pitcher TJ Sikkema. The 6-foot, 221-pound University of Missouri player was dominant on the mound in his junior season with the school. He recorded a win-loss record of 7-4 and an earned run average (ERA) of 1.32 through 88-and-two-third innings pitched.

He also struck out 101 batters and allowed only 31 walks for an impressive walks/hits per inning pitched (WHIP) of 0.959. Through three seasons at Missouri, Sikkema had a record of 18-11, ERA of 2.38, and WHIP of 1.050 with 258 strikeouts and 69 walks.

The 21-year-old spent his first season in the Yankees organization with its Low-A affiliate in Staten Island. He pitched only 10-and-two-third innings, but struck out 13 batters and only allowed one earned run for an ERA of 0.84.

3. Josh Smith

The Yankees added to its infield depth in the second round by selecting Louisiana State University (LSU) second baseman and shortstop Josh Smith. The 22-year-old native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was originally selected out of high school by the Detroit Tigers in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft, but instead chose to pursue college baseball. He spent three seasons at LSU and compiled 16 home runs, 94 RBI, 25 stolen bases, and a .313 batting average through 143 games.

Building upon an impressive senior campaign at LSU, Smith hit three home runs, six doubles, and drove in 15 runs through 33 games for the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 2019. He also had a .324 batting average and .927 on-base plus slugging percentages (OPS). He hit near the top of the batting order and drew 25 walks compared to only 17 strikeouts.

4. Jake Sanford

The Yankees selected Canadian outfielder Jake Sanford as its fourth pick in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft. Playing for Western Kentucky University, the 21-year-old was the first ever C-USA Regular Season Triple Crown Winner in 2019.

He led the conference in home runs (22), RBI (66), and batting average (.398). His best game of the season came against Eastern Kentucky on March 26, 2019. He hit three home runs and recorded eight RBI.

Like Sikkema and Smith, Sanford began his professional career with the Staten Island Yankees. While he didn’t fare as well as Smith at the plate, he hit a respectable seven home runs in 60 games. He also had 27 RBI, a .238 batting average, and a .700 OPS. He made two errors defensively in right field, but had a perfect fielding percentage through 248 innings in center field.

5. Jake Agnos

Selected in the fourth round out of East Carolina University, Jake Agnos is a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher from Haymarket, Virginia. Through three seasons at East Carolina, Agnos posted a record of 18-10 to go along with a 3.05 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He also had an impressive 295 strikeouts, 145 of which were registered in 2019, through 230 innings pitched.

Agnos split his first professional season between New York’s Gulf Coast League affiliate in Florida and the Staten Island Yankees. Through 10 innings pitched with the latter, he allowed 12 hits and struck out nine batters.