Pair of college OFs agree to deals with Yanks 

June 18th, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are actively adding talent to their organization following last week’s MLB Draft, agreeing to terms with Indiana University outfielder Elijah Dunham and University of Nebraska outfielder Aaron Palensky as non-drafted free agents. The club has not confirmed the signings.

Dunham told the Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press that he was swayed to sign a professional contract after being contacted for a Zoom call with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone.

"I thought for an undrafted free agent, this was a lot of effort," Dunham told the newspaper on Wednesday. “I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity of being a Yankee.”

Dunham, 22, started all 15 games of his pandemic-shortened junior season for the Hoosiers, batting .390 (23-for-59) with a team-best seven doubles, one homer, 11 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Dunham’s .493 on-base percentage led the club, and his .559 slugging percentage ranked second.

Palensky, who turns 22 in September, was one of the Cornhuskers’ top offensive threats this past season. Starting all 15 games in right field, Palensky batted .302 (16-for-53) and led the team in runs (15), doubles (five), walks (15) and RBIs (19), sharing the team high in homers (four).

“[The Yankees] showed some seriously high interest and I felt like they have a lot to offer in terms of player development,” Palensky told the Omaha World-Herald. “I really felt like I could elevate my game there and felt it was the best route I could take to give myself a chance to make it to the big leagues.”

All signing bonuses for non-drafted free agents are capped at a maximum of $20,000.

A product of Evansville who played left field and first base in college, Dunham was previously selected by the Pirates in the 40th round of the 2019 Draft. A Third-Team All-Big Ten honoree in 2019, Dunham posted a .312/.429/.496 slash line over his 75-game collegiate career, with 25 doubles, nine homers and 48 RBIs.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Palensky batted .316/.428/.509 with 16 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and 54 RBIs in 71 games for Nebraska. He was a second-team All-Big Ten honoree in 2019, when he led the Huskers in batting average (.320), hits (71), runs (43) and homers (seven). 

The Yankees have announced agreements with five right-handed pitchers as NDFAs: Carson Coleman (University of Kentucky), Ocean Gabonia (Everett CC – Wash.), Trevor Holloway (University of Central Florida), Jarod Lessar (Brigham Young University) and Connor Pellerin (Tulane University).