Yankees expect top draftees to sign quickly

Yankees expect top draftees to sign quickly

Yankees expect top draftees to sign quickly
NEW YORK -- The high-end prospects the Yankees took in the early rounds of this year's First-Year Player Draft will likely take some time to make their way to the Bronx, but not the Yankees organization.

New York used three of its first four picks on high school prospects, and right-hander Ty Hensley and center fielder Austin Aune -- the Yankees' first two picks at Nos. 30 and 89 overall, respectively -- have already said they plan to forgo their scholarships at Mississippi and Texas Christian to sign quickly with the Yankees.

For the duo, it was an easy decision.

"If I could pick any team to go to, it definitely would have been the Yankees," said Hensley, a 6-foot-4 Edmond Santa Fe High School (Okla.) product.

"He wasn't a signability guy," said Yankees vice president and director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer. "It wasn't like we took him because his signability was good. We took him because he was the best guy on the board."

2012 Draft Central

In a matter of hours, Aune packed up his belongings from his dorm at TCU, where he enrolled on Sunday to play baseball and quarterback. Asked if he was surprised, Aune's Argyle High School (Texas) baseball coach quickly answered no.

"It's the New York Yankees," he said.

The Yankees will hope for the same with third-round selection Nathan Mikolas of Kenosha, Wis., who is committed to Louisville, and the club has about $4.2 million allocated toward bonuses for its 11 selections through the first 10 rounds under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The remaining eight of those 11 picks -- the Yankees received a compensatory pick for not signing Texas pitcher Sam Stafford last season -- are from college, and five are seniors. Twenty-seven of their 41 picks are college prospects.

"We think it's a good haul," Oppenheimer said. "We think we got a good group of guys, and we have to get them all signed now."

The Yankees spent 21 of their picks on pitchers -- 14 right-handers and seven left-handers -- 11 on outfielders, six on infielders and three on catchers, bolstering an already deep portion of the farm system.

New York has three catchers ranked among its top 20 prospects -- as ranked by MLB.com -- and used one of its two second-round picks (No. 94) on Miami (Fla.) backstop Peter O'Brien. The 6-foot-4 catcher improved his Draft stock by one round after choosing not to sign with the Rockies out of Bethune-Cookman last season and transferring to Miami.

O'Brien entered this week as the 53rd-ranked prospect in the Draft. O'Brien has a strong arm, but his greatest upside is at the plate, where he led all Hurricanes with a .340 average in 41 games, belting 10 homers and driving in 40 runs.

O'Brien made up a trio of top prospects that has Oppenheimer excited.

Oppenheimer, who ran the Draft from Tampa, Fla., said Hensley has the look of a top-of-the-rotation starter, praised Aune's athleticism and was impressed by O'Brien's bat.

"The beat goes on with quite a few of these guys," Oppenheimer said. "I don't want to single out anybody, but we think it was a diverse group and a group that has talent. We should have some guys who are going to impact the Yankees, whether it's in New York or adding depth and value to our system."

Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.