ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Yankees, who seem to have struck gold with one recent draft pick from the University of South Carolina, went that route again. They selected righthander Clarke Schmidt with their first-round pick (16th overall) on Monday night, three years after picking lefthander Jordan Montgomery in the fourth round out of South Carolina in 2014. Montgomery is having a standout season as their fifth starter.
Schmidt throws a mid-90s fastball and scouts have praised his slider. “Schmidt’s got four pitches that at times are all plus. He has command, he has makeup,” said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ vice president of domestic amateur scouting. “We really like his delivery. He’s got a chance to be a top-end-of-the- rotation type of guy who combines pitchability with power stuff. And you always like it when they’re the Friday night guy, pitching and having success in that conference.”
Schmidt, however, suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in mid-April and shortly thereafter had Tommy John surgery. Clearly, the Yankees believe that Schmidt, who had a 1.34 ERA and struck out 70 batters in 60 1⁄3 innings for South Carolina, is worth the risk.
Regarding Schmidt’s surgery, Oppenheimer added, “The results were positive and we feel really good about the rehab. He should be back pitching at full strength in approximately 12 months.”
In the second round, the Yankees took righthander Matt Sauer of Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria, California, with the 54th overall pick.
“Sauer is a projectable high school righthander who is athletic, with a ‘now’ fastball and a plus slider,” Oppenheimer said. “He really has a good way about his aggressiveness and makeup on the mound. We see a chance there for a starter with power stuff.”
The Yankees’ draft picks will join what is considered one of the best farm systems in the game. “You can see the importance of what our farm system has done for this club,” Joe Girardi said, speaking generally about the draft. “Players we’ve had, the power we’ve added, the pitching we’ve added. It’s been vital. Sometimes you think they’re a long ways away, sometimes they get here quicker than you think.”