Yankees excited about early-round draft picks

Over the previous five years, the Yankees made their first selection in the First Year Player Draft a high school player. They took a college man with their first pick this year, third baseman Eric Jagielo from Notre Dame, with the 26th pick overall. Later in the first round, the Yankees chose outfielder Aaron Judge and left-handed pitcher Ian Clarkin with the 32nd and 33rd overall picks, respectively.

The Yankees’ three first-round picks matched their most all time (also in 1978: shortstop Rex Hudler No. 18, outfielder Matt Winters No. 24 and right-handed pitcher Brian Ryder No. 26) and were the most for any team in this year’s draft. The 32nd and 33rd picks were the result of losing Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano to free agency the past off-season.

Jagielo, 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, was named the 2013 Big East Player of the Year after batting .388 with 47 runs, 19 doubles, nine home runs and 53RBI in 56 games and 196 at-bats for the Irish. He led the league in slugging percentage (.633) and on-base percentage (.500) and ranked second in batting average, tied for second in homers and tied for fourth in total bases (124). He was recently named one of 30 semifinalists for the 2013 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award.

The left-handed batter from Downers Grove, Ill., was rated by Baseball America as the 16th-best overall prospect in this year’s draft (fourth corner infielder). The publication also rated him as the No. 1 prospect from the Big East for the 2013 MLB draft.

Jagielo played with Harwich in the 2012 Cape Cod League, batting .291 in 158 at-bats and ranking second in the league with 13 home runs. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 50th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Downers Grove North High School but chose to attend Notre Dame.

“We think we had a great first day,” Yankees vice president of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer said. “I’m excited and the staff is excited. We feel really good about what happened for us today. Eric Jagielo is a physical, left-handed hitter with plus power. He performed well in Cape Cod, and shows a good combination of plate discipline and power.”

The selection of Jageilo marks the first college player taken by the Yankees in the first round since 2007 when they selected right-handed pitcher Andrew Brackman of North Carolina State with the 30th overall pick.

Judge, 6-7 and 255 pounds, hit .369 with 45 runs, 15 doubles, 12 home runs, 36RBI and 12 stolen bases in 206 at-bats for the Fresno State Bulldogs this season and led the team in each category. He was ranked by Baseball America as the 30th-best overall prospect in this year’s draft.

A native of Linden, Calif., Judge becomes the second outfielder selected by the Yankees in the first round in the past 12 years since 2002 (also Slade Heathcott in 2009). He was a three-time first-team all-WAC-conference selection, as well as Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America in 2011.

Clarkin, from James Madison High School in San Diego, Calif., was ranked by Baseball America as the 17th-best prospect in the 2013 draft – and second-best left-handed pitcher. He went 9-2 with a 0.95 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 14 games (12 starts) this past season.

A three-time All-CIF Baseball Player of the Year selection, Clarkin also pitched for Team USA in Baseball World Championships in Korea as a part of the gold medal-winning team. He was a 2013 Rawlings First-Team All-American and named to the California All-Region First Team. He becomes the first left-handed pitcher selected by the Yankees in the first round since Eric Milton in 1996.

Oppenheimer added, “Aaron Judge is a big man, and obviously a great-bodied athlete who has a high upside. He can run, he has a good work ethic, he can throw and has the potential to be a five-tool guy with some size and strength. Ian Clarkin has a combination of the things we were looking for. He is a left-handed pitcher with plus velocity and has a plus curveball. On top of that, he’s a tireless worker. We think we got something special with him.”

The Yankees selected second baseman Gosuke Katoh of Rancho Bernardo High School with the team’s second-round pick (66th overall). He was a 2013 Rawlings Second-Team All-America. A left-handed batter, Katoh hit .355 with 10 doubles, 11 home runs and 31RBI in 33 games and 110 at-bats.

“We were excited to get this guy in the second round,” said Oppenheimer. “On our scale, he’s an excellent runner with great hand-eye coordination who can hit with some surprising power. He’s a really good defender, and someone that excites us.”

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