Monday, July 18, 2022

Yankees Select Two Players on First Day Of MLB Draft


The view from center field at Yankee Stadium. Photo by Jason Schott.

The 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft took place on Sunday night, and the Yankees selected a pair of players in the first two rounds. Outfielder Spencer Jones, who played at Vanderbilt University, was drafted with their first-round selection, which was the 25th overall pick, and right-handed pitcher Drew Thorpe was selected with the 61st pick, and he went to Cal Poly.

Spencer Jones is a 6-foot-7, 225-pound outfielder who was named to the All-SEC second team this past season, in which he had a .370 batting average, a .460 on-base percentage, and a .643 slugging percentage (85-for-230) with 12 home runs, 60 RBI, 32 walks, 62 runs scored, 21 doubles, 3 triples, and 14 stolen bases in 61 games. 

Jones played for three seasons at Vanderbilt (2019-22), and he had a slash line of .329/.418/.554 (118-for-359) with 15 home runs, 73 RBI, 43 walks, 86 runs scored, 30 doubles, 3 triples, and 18 stolen bases.

The Encinitas, California, native was ranked as the No. 49 overall prospect by Baseball America and No. 51 by MLB Pipeline. He originally was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 31st round  of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft but decided to attend Vanderbilt.

Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees Vice President of Domestic Amateur Scouting, said, "We were very happy to have been able to select Spencer. We love how athletic he is and that he can play center field. He is a legitimate five-tool guy with big power and plus speed. He has some of the best exit velocity in this year's draft. We are really excited about his ceiling."

Last summer, Jones played for the Brewster White Caps in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League and he led his team to the CCBL Championship as he hit .309 (29-for-94) with 3 home runs, 20 RBI, 9 walks, 16 runs scored, 5 doubles, and 6 stolen bases in 29 games.

Jones is just the fourth outfielder the Yankees have selected in the first round of the draft since 2002. The first three were Slade Heathcott in 2009, Aaron Judge in 2013, and Blake Rutherford in 2016. The Yankees have chosen a college player with eight of their last 12 first-round picks since 2013. He is the only Vanderbilt product drafted by the Yankees in the first round of MLB's First-Year Player Draft, which began in 1965.

Drew Thorpe is a 21-year-old, 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-handed pitcher, who went 10-1 with a 2.32 ERA (earned run average) in 15 starts as a redshirt sophomore with Cal Poly last season. He threw 104 2/3 innings, allowing 31 runs (27 earned) on 65 hits and 25 walks, with 149 strikeouts. His 149 K's ranked second in the nation to Oregon State's Cooper Hjerpe, who had 161 strikeouts and was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 22nd overall pick in this year's draft. Thorpe also ranked third in the country in hits allowed per nine innings (5.59), sixth in WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) at 0.86, 10th in wins (10), 13th in strikeouts per nine innings (12.81), and 17th in ERA with a 2.32 mark.

Thorpe was ranked as the overall No. 61 by MLB Pipeline and the No. 62 prospect by Baseball America. He was named to six All-America first teams this past season, including Collegiate Baseball, American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), Perfect Game, Baseball America,, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association. He was the first six-time All-American in Cal Poly's history.

In addition, he was the Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year, the first pitcher in Cal Poly's history to earn that honor. He also was one of five finalists for National Pitcher of the Year, and a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award.

Oppenheinmer said of Thorpe, "We love Drew's size and the Major League stuff and command he possesses. We have seen him up to 96 (mph) and he has arguably the best changeup in the draft. He is still projectable to add velocity and his overall ability to create swing-and-miss is elite. He has the ability to move quickly through the minor leagues with a good Major League starter ceiling."

In three seasons with the Mustangs, Thopre went 17-8 with a 3.03 ERA in 35 games, 34 of which were starts. He threw 223 innings, allowing 82 runs (75 earned) on 170 hits and 70 walks, with 284 strikeouts. 

Like Jones, he also played in the Cape Cod Baseball League in the summer of 2021. He appeared in two games for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox before he was selected to pitch for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team.


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