The Yankees called a familiar name with their 20th-round selection, drafting high school pitcher Jack Leiter. The right-hander is the son of former Yankees pitcher and broadcaster Al Leiter, and is considered one of the top arms of the entire draft class. Were it not for the younger Leiter’s commitment to attend Vanderbilt in the fall, he “would have gone [in the] top 10 picks, easy” a scout tells MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). (The consensus among pundits wasn’t quite that lofty, though he was seen as a high-end draft prospect.) It isn’t unusual for teams to take a flier of a pick on such prospects just to see if they could be enticed to begin their pro careers early, and despite the past ties between the Yankees and the Leiter family, both Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand believe Jack Leiter will indeed head to Vanderbilt. Cooper doesn’t think the Yankees have the bonus pool budget available to offer Leiter anything close to his asking price to forego his college commitment, while Feinsand counters any suggestion of a possible wink-wink deal between Leiter and his dad’s old team by noting that the senior Leiter currently works for the Mets as an advisor in the baseball ops department.
As the draft officially comes to an end for another year, here’s more news and notes from the 2019 class…
- The Mets selected high-school right-hander Matthew Allan with the 89th overall pick, an intriguing part of a strategy by the team to focus their efforts “into largely a three-player draft,” J.J. Cooper writes for Baseball America. Allan is another of the draft’s top high-school arms, but reportedly wanted a $4MM bonus (greater than the slot price for all but the top 14 picks) to turn pro rather than attend the University of Florida. The 89th overall pick only carries a $667.9K recommended price, though the Mets drafted all college seniors (who have less negotiating leverage) in rounds 4-10 to potentially carve out space in their bonus pool. By saving money on those picks and perhaps even on first-rounder Brett Baty, the Mets could have enough to meet Allan’s price. Matt Ehalt of Yahoo Sports also reports that Allan’s actual demand is “not near the $4MM that has been thrown out,” so the team could have even more breathing room.
- The Cubs haven’t had much success in developing their own pitchers in recent years, and their pick of right-hander Ryan Jensen with the 27th overall selection represents how the team is adjusting its thinking in trying to solve this problem, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes. “Ryan Jensen certainly hits the nail on the head in terms of things that I’ve talked about that we probably avoided,” Cubs senior VP of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod told Bastian and other reporters. Jensen has had mechanical issues during his time at Fresno State, and at only 6’0″ tall and 180 pounds, the righty doesn’t cut an imposing figure on the mound. The young hurler had two important supporters, however, in Cubs area scout Gabe Zappi and pitching coordinator Brendan Sagara, plus McLeod was himself impressed watching one of Jensen’s starts in person on May 16.
- Reports from the night prior to the draft suggested that the Orioles were still considering multiple options as the first overall pick, and GM Mike Elias indeed told reporters (including MLB.com’s Joe Trezza) that “the first four picks were all under significant discussion from us at one point or another.” Rather than take Bobby Witt Jr., Andrew Vaughn, or JJ Bleday, the O’s instead stuck to expectations and chose top-rated prospect Adley Rutschman. “There are pros and cons with every player profile and every player. We like to work our way through all of that and ultimately decided for the long-range benefit of the organization that this was the right pick,” Elias said. It’s hard to argue with the choice, given that Rutschman was widely seen as the top talent available in this year’s class (and perhaps in many years). Elias praised his new player as “a team leader on and off the field” and “a future fixture for this organization.”