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2016 MLB Draft: Reaction to Yankees picks Blake Rutherford, Nick Solak

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A top-five hitting prospect and much needed middle infield depth were part of the New York Yankees first day activities at the MLB Draft. here a some quick takeaways of what was won.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees did pretty well on the first day of the MLB Draft. They were able to lock up a top five talent, while getting one of the more unheralded middle infield bats in the draft.

Blake Rutherford

The big concern with Rutherford was signability issues, because there are many people that felt he was the best bat in the draft. I’m not here to argue whether or not Mickey Moniak is better, or if a college bat like Kyle Lewis or Corey Ray was more well rounded than Rutherford, but what I can tell you is that if the Yankees can sign Rutherford, it’s a steal.

The recently turned 19-year old has been on the national radar for some time. Hailing from Chaminade Prep, he has the looming commitment to UCLA. Unfortunately for the Yankees, with his raw power and five-tool profile, he could easily garner 1-1 consideration in three years for a much bigger payday. The one setback to that is that he will already be 22 the next time he is draft eligible. That’s old man territory when it comes to the MLB Draft.

Rutherford has a much high power profile than his counterpart, the first overall pick Mickey Moniak, as he projects to be a perennial 20/20 candidate that can hit for high average. Moniak is superior defensively, however. Rutherford has the speed to play his current centerfield position at the next level, but he lacks the arm strength and range that many feel are necessary to succeed professionally. Projected as more of corner outfielder, it’s curious to wonder if the Yankees view Aaron Judge as more of a DH candidate, ready to groom Rutherford as their next right fielder or they attempt to improve his centerfield portfolio.

Nick Solak

The 21-year old Louisville second baseman has one of the more enticing middle infield bats in the draft. The Yankees may have reached a bit, however, it seems like a well-calculated risk.

Here’s what our own draft expert had to say about Solak:

"Solak could be one of the more underrated bats in the draft, and is the last of the top tier second base prospects in this year's draft. He's projected as more of a 4-5 round pick, but the bat is good enough to go before that. There's not a lot of power yet, but he just hits hard line drives. He gets dinged due to position… He reminds me of what Rob Refsnyder was coming out of college with the bat, without having to learn how to play second base."

The Yankees have realized that, no matter how fun his bat may be to watch, the Rob Refsnyder experiment was a failed one. They have flexibility with their current MLB middle infielders’ athleticism as a switch to third for Starlin Castro has been discussed for some time. Having a college-experienced, second baseman on the pipeline with a nice bat good expedite such a move.

Solak won’t wow you with home run power, but he has line-drive gap power. He slashed .380/.474/.576 in his final season at Louisville, hitting 14 doubles and five home runs. He has nice speed and seems to be sound on the base paths, going 9-for-12 in attempted thieveries. A solid summer on the Cape (.329/.438/.393 with a 21-to-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio) showed that his hit tools were not necessarily a product of the aluminum bats.

There are issues with both Yankees draft picks. Will Rutherford sign? Do the Yankees feel that Solak is closer to MLB ready despite showing little MLB-ready power? In the coming weeks, we will find out the answers to both. Hopefully they get them locked up and get their exciting careers underway.