NEW YORK -- The Yankees used their second selection in the MLB Draft on a prep arm with plenty of quality upside, selecting right-hander Matt Sauer from Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria, Calif. with the 54th overall pick.With plus arm strength and projectable upside, Sauer was a consistent
NEW YORK -- The Yankees used their second selection in the MLB Draft on a prep arm with plenty of quality upside, selecting right-hander Matt Sauer from Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria, Calif. with the 54th overall pick.
With plus arm strength and projectable upside, Sauer was a consistent draw for talent evaluators pounding the pavement in Southern California, as scouts carrying radar guns jockeyed for position to watch the 18-year-old's outings.
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"Sauer is a projectable high school right-hander who is athletic, with a 'now' fastball and a plus slider," said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' vice president of domestic amateur scouting. "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."
MLBPipeline.com had Sauer ranked as the No. 28 prospect in this year's Draft after he went 9-1 with a 0.98 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) as a senior, permitting just 42 hits in 78 1/3 innings while striking out 142 against 31 walks.
"Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved baseball, and this has been my dream since I was playing tee-ball," Sauer told KEYT-TV prior to the Draft. "I've always wanted to play for a Major League team. ... Whatever team it is, I'll go out there and play for them. It will be a lot of fun."
Sauer's selection came after the Yankees took University of South Carolina right-hander Clarke Schmidt 16th overall.
Schmidt is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, so the Yankees may be able to save money on that pick and use it to entice Sauer to forgo a commitment to the University of Arizona. The slot value for the 54th pick is $1.236 million.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Sauer has touched 97 mph with his fastball while sitting comfortably in the 91-95-mph range.
He combines that with a nasty slider, up to 87 mph, thrown from a three-quarter slot with good power, bite and deception. The changeup is a distant third pitch, but he hasn't needed it much against high school competition.
Some scouts are not in love with Sauer's arm action and see him more as a potential power bullpen type of pitcher. Others see a potential three-pitch mix, two above-average to plus offerings, with the build to be a rotation workhorse.
A two-way player, Sauer also led his team with a .427 (50-for-117) average across 35 games and was named the 2017 PAC-8 League Most Valuable Player. Scouts weren't sure which way he would project better until this year, when a leap forward with his velocity established Sauer as more of a pitching prospect.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.