John Sickels recently spoke to Mark Newman, and Newman said some things about the organizational philosophy that were encouraging:
When I look at it from the perspective of player development and scouting, our mandate to win yearly in the majors gives us two main challenges: our draft slot and the fact that we often trade prospects. Where we pick in the draft is always an issue, at least if we’re doing our job by winning at the major league level. We almost always have lower picks in the draft, and that makes it harder to get players with high upsides in the draft process, especially for the hitters. At times we need to trade prospects to build a major league roster that can achieve our goals, the (Javier) Vazquez and (Curtis) Granderson trades are examples.
That’s the problem for a team with the goals and expectations that the Yankees have. So how do they deal with this issue?
Because of those two factors, especially the draft slot issue, we will take risks on some players to get a high-ceiling guy in the system……
There has to be a solid reason or really outstanding tools to give a Latin player a large bonus, but if we think the risk is worth it, we will take it. It would be fairly rare for a guy with a Montero or Gary Sanchez or Arodys Vizcaino-like upside to fall to us in the draft, so we look hard to find guys with that kind of talent internationally. This is especially true for the position players, since few guys with genuine impact bats will get to us at the bottom of the first round. We have to take the risk to get guys like that somewhere, so we’ll look in Latin America. We can find tools there that are hard for us to acquire in the draft……
We have no particular bias towards high school or college players, although we do look for impact guys who might drop to us for reasons not related to their talent. The pitcher we drafted a couple of years ago, Gerrit Cole. We knew that was a risk because he had the UCLA commitment, his family is wealthy, and we knew that he had aggressive bonus demands. Because of his upside, we took the chance that we could make it work, but he went to college instead. That was one risk that didn’t pan out. But to be extraordinary involves risk, and our goal is to be extraordinary.
(The final sentence is bolded because it is pure awesomeness. That should be the official Yankee slogan.)
Basically, the Yankees address their inability to grab premium top of the draft talent in two ways. The first is to focus on injury and signability risks in the draft in order to get premium talents in the system. While this precludes getting slightly more predictable players early, the Yankees can always pick up such players later in the draft by going above slot. The second method that the Yankees use to fill the system with premium talents is to be major players on the international markets, where there are no constraints on the Yankees signing any players that interest them. The combination of these two strategies should help the Yankees keep pace with most teams in the area of talent procurement.