Breaking down the Yanks' Day 2 Draft picks

July 13th, 2021

As the 2021 MLB Draft advanced through its second day, the Yankees are among the 30 Major League organizations scouring the amateur ranks for the stars of tomorrow.

The Bombers opened their Draft by taking Eastern Illinois shortstop Trey Sweeney with the 20th overall selection. The 21-year-old Sweeney attended the event at Denver’s Bellco Theatre, telling MLB Network’s Lauren Gardner that he was excited to put the storied pinstripes on: “Let’s get to work; let’s do this.”

Indeed. Here is how Day 2 of the Draft progressed from the Yankees’ perspective:

Round 2, No. 55 overall: Brendan Beck, RHP, Stanford University

Notable Skill: The 6-foot-2 Beck was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year and earned All-Pac 12 First-Team honors in 2021 after going 9-3 with a 3.15 ERA across 17 appearances (15 starts). Beck’s 143 strikeouts were the fourth-highest total in the nation. His fastball sits at 91 mph, up to 93 mph, which he mixes with a curve, slider and changeup. 

Fun Fact: Beck is the younger brother of Tristan Beck, who is rated as the No. 20 prospect in the Giants' organization by MLB Pipeline. A fast worker on the mound, Beck has a combination of strike-throwing and athleticism that remind some of the collegiate version of Shane Bieber. Beck was primarily a shortstop until his senior year of high school, and he began his career at Stanford as a two-way player.

Quotable: “Brendan has quality stuff and can really pitch in addition to being a great overall athlete,” said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ senior vice president of domestic amateur scouting. “He was originally a position player and then eventually became Stanford’s Friday night starter. We were really happy to get him, and we see him as a Major League starting pitcher.”

Round 3, No. 92 overall: Brock Selvidge, LHP, Hamilton HS (Ariz.)

Notable Skill: Rated as Arizona’s top prep talent, Selvidge has touched 96 mph with his fastball, but it sits comfortably at 90-92 mph. He'll throw his slider at 79-84 mph as his best secondary offering, with three-quarter-type tilt. He has a curve that's a work in progress, with some scouts feeling he'd be better off focusing on the slider alone. He doesn’t throw his changeup much. Selvidge likes to go right after hitters with power, and he projects to have at least average control.

Fun Fact: The 18-year-old Selvidge hails from the same alma mater as Cody Bellinger, who went to the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2013 Draft. A two-way player who was named the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year in 2019-2020. Selvidge has committed to Louisiana State University.

Quotable: “Last summer we were able to see Brock quite a bit, and we thought he would potentially be one of the top high school pitchers in this draft,” Oppenheimer said. “We were happy with his progress this season, and at the combine he was dynamite. We were very pleased he was available when we made our pick, and we feel he is a future left-handed starter.”

Round 4, No. 122 overall: Cooper Bowman, 2B, University of Louisville

Notable Skill: Bowman starred for two seasons as a shortstop at Iowa Western Community College, batting .414 with 44 steals in 84 games and helping the Reivers finish runner-up at the 2019 Junior College World Series, before transferring to Louisville for '21. He settled in at second base and the leadoff spot, becoming one of the Cardinals' most dependable hitters. Bowman has a smooth right-handed swing and a patient approach, allowing him to make regular contact and get on base. He has a quick bat with solid raw power and can drive the ball from gap to gap, giving him 15-20 homer potential.

Fun Fact: Bowman lettered in baseball and basketball at Stevens High School in Rapid City, S.D., the same school that produced Major League infielder Mark Ellis. There are some similarities between the two, with Bowman appearing primed for a similar future as a multidimensional second baseman. Bowman has listed “The Other Guys,” in which Derek Jeter made a cameo, as his favorite movie.

Quotable: “Cooper is an athletic infielder who had a heck of a year,” Oppenheimer said. “He possesses good bat-to-ball skills, and he has a plus run tool. Defensively, he can play second base and shortstop, and he’s tough as nails. He’s a player that really grew on us.”

Round 5, No. 153 overall: Tyler Hardman, 1B, University of Oklahoma

Notable Skill: Hardman used 2020’s pandemic-shortened season to improve his physical conditioning, dropping about 20 pounds. That paid off, helping Hardman become the Big 12’s batting champion with a .397 average, in addition to 89 hits, 12 homers and 49 RBIs. A quick bat and the power of his 6-foot-3 frame should translate into home run potential to all fields. Oppenheimer said that Hardman “has a power vibe reminiscent of Luke Voit.”

Fun Fact: A first-team All-American, Hardman reached base in 16 consecutive plate appearances from March 9-15 this year, including hitting for the cycle against Arkansas State on March 15. He frequently works out with his younger sister, McKenna, who is a high school softball player. The Rockies previously selected Hardman in the 37th round of the 2017 Draft.

Quotable: “I’m always going to be the first person in and the last one to leave,” Hardman told The Oklahoma Daily. “I’m going to work hard and try and pass that around the team as well. They shouldn’t have to worry about that. They should know they’re getting someone who works for every person on the team, not just themselves.”

Round 6, No. 183 overall: Richard Fitts, RHP, Auburn University

Notable Skill: Slowed this past season by a toe injury, the 6-foot-3 Fitts uses a four-seam fastball that sits between 93-95 mph and has touched 97 mph. He tosses an upper-80s changeup with splitter action and an improving mid-80s slider, and he could project either as a starter or reliever. Scouts praise Fitts’ arm action, delivery and competitiveness.

Fun Fact: Fitts built his own wooden pitching station at home in Helena, Ala., when NCAA play halted due to the pandemic. Once a college walk-on at Auburn, Fitts was a key reliever as a freshman in 2019, firing six scoreless innings to beat Georgia Tech in the NCAA Regional playoffs, winning a clincher against North Carolina in the Super Regionals and pitching well in two College World Series appearances. Auburn’s pitching coach is former big leaguer Tim Hudson. 

Quotable: “Some people just laid it down and went on about their business and trying to figure out a pandemic or what we’re going through -- and no judgment there,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson told “Somebody like Richard Fitts, his brain was wired to, ‘How do I capture this moment here, this break? What can I figure out to continue to grow?’"

Round 7, No. 213 overall: Robert Ahlstrom, LHP, University of Oregon

Notable Skill: Ahlstrom is a "pitchability" lefty who throws a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. He developed into one of the Pac-12’s best pitchers this past season. Ahlstrom’s fastball sits at 89-93 mph, as he made use of Oregon’s high-tech video analysis to improve his mechanics. He was 9-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 14 starts this year, averaging better than one strikeout per inning.

Fun Facts: Nicknamed “Big Game Rob,” Ahlstrom rooted for Oregon as a kid but had only one offer to play at a four-year college coming out of nearby North Eugene High, so he played two years at a community college before being invited on campus. Ahlstrom earned letters in baseball, football, swimming and wrestling in high school. 

Quotable: "Pitching, you're in control,” Ahlstrom said. “One thing I liked about wrestling was it was on me -- if I lose, I lost it, and if I win, I won it. That's why I kind of fell in love with pitching. No matter what the offense is doing, I can put up zeros. I'm in control."

Round 8, No. 243 overall: Will Warren, RHP, Southeastern Louisiana University

Notable Skill: Showcasing great spin rate, Warren broke out in his fourth season at Southeastern, going 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA and a 95/25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 91 innings. He got stronger and his stuff improved, highlighted by a solid mid-70s curveball and a low-90s fastball that topped out at 98 mph. He also throws a slider and a fading changeup, both in the low 80s, and still has room to add more muscle to his 6-foot-2 frame.

Fun Facts: Warren helped lead Jackson Prep (Miss.) to a state title as a high schooler, breaking a school record for innings pitched while earning multiple All-State and All-Conference honors. He was selected to the LSWA All-Louisiana second team and the 2021 Southland All-Conference first team this year, twice receiving conference "Pitcher of the Week" honors (April 19 and May 23).

Quotable: “For some reason, I couldn't get through the fifth inning [in 2019]. It was a mental block,” Warren said. “I found this book, 'The Mental Game of Baseball,' and it really hit home. I knew I was better than that and spent the entire summer working on it."

Round 9, No. 273: Chandler Champlain, RHP, University of Southern California

Notable Skill: A 6-foot-5, 220-pound righty, Champlain pitched to a 4-4 record and 5.06 ERA in 15 starts for the Trojans this year, permitting 88 hits while issuing 22 walks against 69 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings.

Fun Facts: Champlain was selected in the 38th round of the 2018 Draft by the Angels. A 2017 Under Armour All-American, he was a three-time All-Trinity League selection at Santa Margarita (Calif.) High School. His father Jay was a member of the 1978 USC National Championship football team. He hopes to visit every Major League stadium.

Round 10, No. 303 overall: Benjamin Cowles, SS, University of Maryland

Notable Skill: Cowles is a shortstop with slugging ability, having led the Big Ten with 18 home runs in 48 games for the Terrapins this past season. Cowles collected 50 hits and drove in 51 runs while compiling a robust .632 slugging percentage, homering in 12 consecutive weekend series to start the season. That performance earned the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder a place on the All-Big Ten First Team.

Fun Facts: Cowles was born in Rochester, N.Y. and attended Newark (N.Y.) High School, where he was a 2018 Rawlings Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American. Maryland discovered him during a travel tournament in Vinewood, N.J. He lists Derek Jeter as his sports hero.

Quotable: “I’m not really a power hitter,” Cowles told The Diamondback. “I’m just trying to get on base, steal bags and score runs for our team.”