In a real treat for our readers, NoMaas' Lane Meyer agreed to sit down and discuss tomorrow's amateur draft with me. Lane runs a draft blog attached to NoMaas, click here, that has become the foremost stop for Yankees draft fanatics. I dropped him a line to get the low-down on who the Yankees could pick, his great interviews with Damon Oppenheimer, and snack foods.
Jimmy Dugan - Though you are as big a Yankee fan as the rest of us nutcases, you are a man amongst boys when it comes to the draft. What draws you to this particular event?
Lane Meyer - I just love the fact that it has so many facets. Sensei John Kreese always makes fun of me for saying "the talent does not flow linearly," but it's the truth. The fact that any team literally has the chance to have the best draft, and likely the best farm system, if they just decide to spend a little more money makes the whole event exciting. Last year Kansas City set the all-time record for total signing bonuses in a single draft (just north of $11 million) and they got a haul of great talent. Knowing that the Yankees are willing to do similar things makes all three days of the draft extremely exciting. For example, Dellin Betances was taken in the 8th round a few years ago, while Mark Melancon followed him in the 9th. Dellin fell because of a strong Vanderbilt commitment and a $1 million pricetag, while Mark dropped because there were strong indications that he'd need Tommy John surgery. Here's the thing though - Yankees fans went nuts that year when they were drafted because we KNEW they were good picks. When following the draft, the 26th round pick could possibly have more talent than the 2nd rounder, and that's what is so intriguing about it.
JD - As is very well known, Gerrit Cole gave the Yankees the finger and went to UCLA after the team used its first round pick on him. Is this a commentary on the cockiness of the organization feeling that they can buy anyone, or was Cole giving off mixed signals about his signability?
LM - In no way, shape, or form did Gerit Cole tell the Yankees that he was undecided - this had nothing to do with the Yankees being cocky or misreading things. An organization like the Yankees does not "take a chance" with their 1st round pick. They had specific conversations and were led to believe that he was absolutely willing to sign with them. Then he changed his mind. The end.
JD - You have commented on the blog that you desire more raw power in the organization - anyone in particular you would target?
LM - Yeah, one of the guys I interviewed, Tommy Joseph out of Horizon High in Arizona has a fantastic right-handed swing, and most scouting services report him possessing "light-tower power." He's a bit raw defensively (catcher), but his bat is top-notch and I'd love to see the Yankees take a shot at him.
JD - Though I personally see it as unlikely, Keith Law's latest mock draft has Tanner Scheppers falling into the second round - could a college pitcher with Scheppers' talent fall past the Yankees?
LM - Absolutely, and for two reasons: First, his asking price. Second, his injury history. Shoulder injuries are a terrifying thing, and although Scheppers has been bumping it up to 98 mph, if a team does not like what it sees on his medicals they're not going to pick him. Then when you factor into the equation that he might be asking for several million dollars, you can see why he might fall until someone feels the opportunity cost of the pick is worth selecting him.
JD - This draft is lighter at the top when it comes to elite college hitters than past drafts. Could a player like Dustin Ackley or even Grant Green possibly fall to the Yankees due their pricetag?
LM- I doubt there's any chance in hell of Ackley falling. He's one of the best college hitters we've seen in quite some time, and even if his demands are ridiculous (rumored to be between $9-$10 million) he's just too good a player to fall that far. Green is in the same boat, but because there have been more knocks on him this season (lack of power, poor defense) there's the slight chance that he could fall all the way to #29...but it's still doubtful at this point. However, that could all change in a day if some new demands come out, and that's another reason the MLB draft is so exciting.
JD - In your latest, in-depth interview with Damon Oppenheimer (which are incredible, by the way) you asked him how the Yankees evaluate hitters coming off of injuries - was this an indirect reference to high school super-stud Luke Bailey?
LM - Not really, but I suppose you could make a very indirect correlation because Bailey has had TJS, but his name was not brought into the conversation, nor was his position, even. I was simply curious how a team would look to evaluate that situation (TJS to a position player), and Damon gave me a logical and insightful answer.
JD - After reading about him, I think I am obsessed with David Renfroe - is my craziness well founded, or should I take that camera out of his bushes?
LM - David is a great guy to talk to, loves baseball, and is relatively new to being a full-time position player, so he's definitely worth getting excited about. I'd only ask that you don't fall victim to the same virus that so many other newer draft fans are felled by, and that is thinking we know better than the actual scouts. If the Yankees don't take Renfroe on Tuesday (which I think is more an more unlikely) there's a reason behind that, and we know so little actual information about the situation that it's not right for us to level criticism like we've been out there scouting the kid on multiple occasions.
JD - Gun to your head - who is the Yankees first round draft pick in 2009?
LM - I'm going to switch it up and say Joseph or Renfroe. I'll be writing an entry in the next 24 hours to discuss why.
JD - Now that the MLB Draft is televised, what makes the MLB Draft better than the NFL Draft?
LM - Well, the televised portion is terrible because it's only 3 rounds, and like we discussed earlier, part of the excitement is that great prospects can be picked at any point. For me it's better than the NFL draft because it moves much, much more quickly and the excitement that is generated by a player falling in the 1st round of the NFL Draft for an hour or so is omnipresent for nearly 3 full days in the MLB Draft.
JD - What do you eat to maintain sustenance during the impossibly long draft?
LM - Grilled steaks and ice cold watermelon, along with gallons of lemonade.
Thanks again to Lane Meyer for taking our questions. Definitely check out NoMaas' Draft Blog, as Lane has interviewed many potential draft picks as well as Damon Oppenheimer himself.