Yanks tab outfielder & infielder in MLB draft
The Yankees selected two players Thursday night over the first two rounds of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. With their first overall choice (18th overall) in the first round, the club drafted outfielder Blake Rutherford out of Chaminade College Preparatory School in West Hills, Calif. In the second round, the Yankees picked University of Louisville infielder Nick Solak with the 62nd overall pick.
Rutherford, 19, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound outfielder, recently completed his high school career at Chaminade, where he batted .577 with 34 runs, 13 doubles, one triple, four home runs and nine RBI over 27 games and 78 at-bats as a senior to earn First-Team All-Mission League honors. He lettered four years at Chaminade and hit .438 in 90 games and 249 at-bats.
The left-handed hitter also spent two summers on USA Baseball’s 18U National Team and won gold medals at the 2015 18U World Cup in Japan and 2014 18U Pan American Championship in Mexico.
“Blake’s a guy that we’ve scouted for a long time, and we couldn’t be happier with him falling to us,” Yankees vice president of domestic amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer said. “He has hit at a high level, he can run, he’s a really good defender in center field, and he’s got power. He’s got a chance to have all the tools to profile. The fact that he’s performed on a big stage with Team USA, where he’s been a quality performer, makes it really exciting for us.”
A native of Simi Valley, Calif., Rutherford was rated by Baseball America as the No. 9 overall prospect in this year’s draft, as well as the fifth-best high school player. The selection of Rutherford marks the first time the Yankees have picked a high school player in the first round of the draft since 2012, when they drafted right-handed pitcher Ty Hensley with the 30th overall pick. Rutherford is the 10th high school outfielder chosen by the Yankees in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft since its inception in 1965.
As a junior in 2016, Solak, 21, has hit .380 with 49 runs, 14 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 29 RBI in 45 games and 158 at-bats for the Cardinals, who continue their season in this weekend’s Super Regional against the University of California-Santa Barbara. Solak, a native of Woodridge, Ill.,has earned Third-Team All-America honors from Baseball America and Second-Team All-ACC accolades this season.
“Solak is a really accomplished hitter,” Oppenheimer said. “He makes hard contact, he walks, he has plate discipline and he’s tough. He’s also a plus runner, with tools to stand on in the middle of the diamond.”
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound infielder was tabbed as the No. 147 overall prospect in MLB.com’s pre-draft rankings and No. 153 by Baseball America. This marks the second consecutive year that the Yankees have selected a player from Louisville, following their 11th-round pick of left-handed pitcher Josh Rogers in 2015.