How the 2008 First-Round Pick Effects the Present-Day Yankees

Think the Yankees could use a little more strength in the middle of the bullpen or a better spot-starter than Chad Gaudin? Not many people remember the Yanks’ first-round draft pick in the 2008 June Amateur Draft. Well, that’s because he didn’t sign.

The Yankees took 6-4, 220 pound right hander Gerrit Cole with the 28th overall pick in the 2008 draft. The Yankees (and baseball) thought Cole would sign for sure while being represented by Scott Boras. He was rated the 17th best high school prospect by Baseball America and grew up a Yankee fan in California. However, Cole decided that no matter how much the Yankees offered, he would attend college at UCLA.

Cole was clocked at 98 mph in high school. As a freshman at UCLA, Cole went 4-8 with a 3.49 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 85 innings. However, Cole turned his college career around this season, posting an 11-3 record after a win on Monday night at the College World Series against the TCU Horned Frogs. I flipped back and forth as the Yanks were getting demolished by Rodrigo Lopez and the D’Backs, watching Cole consistently hit between 95 and 97 with his fastball and mix in a filthy 88 mph slider to strike out 13 and induce pop up after pop up. He’s also allowed five hits or less in 13 of his last 18 starts in the competitive Pac-10.

So how does this effect the 2010 Yankees? As you look back to the first round of 2008, players from the draft are being called up to the majors each day. Pedro Alvarez, Buster Posey, Brian Matusz, Gordon Beckham, Justin Smoak, Ike Davis, Justin Fields, Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth and Conor Gillaspie have all seen their MLB debuts already. There’s always the “what if?” factor in baseball. Well, what if Gerrit Cole had signed with the Yankees? What if the Yankees had found assurance in Cole and given up on Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes? Or what if they kept all three and had one of the most promising young pitching staffs around? You can only wonder where the Yankees would be in 2010 if Cole had signed and developed. The Yankees selected outfielder Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 draft as the supplemental pick. He is currently at Class-A Charleston.

Until 2011 when Gerrit Cole is eligible for the draft again, we can only wonder what could have been. Don’t be surprised to see him in a Baltimore Oriole jersey somewhere down the road.

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3 Responses to How the 2008 First-Round Pick Effects the Present-Day Yankees

  1. Jeffrey says:

    It is hard to second guess the Yankees for having picked Cole in 2008. How can you pass him up when you so rarely have this quality at the position in which they pick? People would have gone nuts if they had passed him up and he ended up signing elsewhere.

    Having said that it looks as if this year they were a bit gunshy and wanted to draft someone who was a sure sign. Yeah they liked Culver allright, but I think they did not want to risk not having another 1st round pick not sign.

  2. I doubt that's why they picked Culver. It's hard to say why they picked him, there are a number of reasons, but none are obvious. However, I don't think fear of not signing him is one. If they ever had fear when taking a first round pick it was probably with Heathcott as they would have lost that pick all together if they didn't sign him. With Culver, even if he doesn't sign they still get another draft pick.

  3. Dan Reiner says:

    Jeffrey, that’s not what I’m saying at all here. They knew who they were drafting when they got Cole, and almost everyone was positive he would sign (he was one of two players to not sign in the first round).

    I don’t think Culver was just a “safety” pick, as you are saying. The Yankees have plenty of scouts who know what they’re doing. If they sign, they sign. If not, it’s a shame to everyone.

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