Q&A with Damon Oppenheimer – Part III

PinstripesPlus.com: Let’s move on to Garrett Whitlock, your 18th round pick.  He appears to have the look of a real ‘sleeper’ prospect.

Damon Oppenheimer: We’re working on that one, seeing what we have left over in the pool money to get that one done.  I know this is one that Mike Wagner would really like to get signed.  He’s sophomore eligible.  ‘Wags’ has seen him pitch at 91-92 mph, up to 94 mph, he thinks he has plus movement and a now average changeup.  We saw it on the video.  The video looked good.  It’s an area scout guy, a guy that wasn’t cross-checked or anything like that but Mike is pretty high on him.  He loves in him in fact.  He competes and could be a Major League bullpen guy who gets ground balls, and possibly if we could develop more consistency to the breaking ball we might have a starter.  We’re still looking on that one.

PinstripesPlus.com: Frankie Piliere really liked Whitlock and he also liked Janson Junk, your 22nd round pick.  What are your opinions on Junk?

Oppenheimer: Well he doesn’t throw junk.  That’s one of the questions I got him from somebody else. It sounds like a broken record but it’s what we do — 91-95 mph, average type movement, we got changeup and a slider that both need a little bit of development.  It’s another one that in this part of the draft we’re going after some size and some athleticism along with the velocity.  You get down to this point in the draft you’re buying that tool that we’ve had some success developing.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let’s move on to 6-foot-8 righty Colby Davis, who appears to be your first real tough signability guy in the later rounds out of high school.

Oppenheimer: We’re going to follow him this summer and see how it goes, and see if we have some money to sign him.  It’s a lean projectable body kid.  He’s got some stuff that you’d like to project on.  It’s one of those guys that we’ll see what we see this summer, and see if we can make a deal later on.  It’s not huge stuff now, more like the projection stuff.  He does it in the form of something you think is going to develop more.  The spin is there, it’s just inconsistent.  You like the potential ceiling on this guy. 

PinstripesPlus.com: Moving on to Pat Demarco, is he an impossible sign?

Oppenheimer: You never know.  Though he played in Georgia he’s from New York.  Once again, it’ll depend on your pool money, it depends on how much left and if things can match up.  It’s probably a longshot but who know.  He can hit.  He’s got a good swing.  He’s a strong kid with a good swing and we’ve seen some power from him.  He’s playing centerfield although I don’t see him ending up there.  He’s a tough guy, good strong makeup, but with him it’s more about the right-handed bat.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let’s move on to right-hander Riley Thompson [in the photo above], the sophomore eligible pick from Louisville.  He went a lot later than people though he’d go, even with the leverage he has.

Oppenheimer: We saw him right out of the chute down here in Clearwater and it was electric.  You thought this guy could go in the top couple of rounds.  Then he didn’t get used the way you thought he would have been used with that kind of stuff and I think the year kind of turned a little bit sideways on him.  We held on to what we saw early.  We know it’s a real low chance of getting him signed.  It’s a redshirt c-1 so he’s got a lot of leverage so I don’t know if that’s something that can done or not but when you get to this point in the draft and you don’t need to fill a bunch of roster spots, which we didn’t need to do, why not take a chance on an ability like this and see if something changes over the summer.  Huge fastball, up to 99 mph, and we’ve seen a slider that at times has been plus.  He just has some inconsistencies with the command. 

PinstripesPlus.com: You’re talking about taking a shot, it seems that definitely fits in with the selection of another sophomore eligible hurler, Stanford righty Tristan Beck.  He went a lot lower than most people thought. 

Oppenheimer: You know we didn’t get to see him pitch all year so we’re going back to what we saw in high school and what we saw as a freshman at Stanford.  This guy [then] had an above average 92-94 mph fastball as a starter with command of it.  He was one of those guys coming out of high school where you thought he had the chance to really be something special.  He went Stanford and contributed right away.  We though there was an above average curveball, an average to above average changeup that was still projectable, and had control.  The guy hit on a lot of things, possibly four things to be a starter.  And he’s been out the whole year.  Like I said it before and I’ll say it again, we didn’t have to draft to fill out a lot of roster spots so we figured we’d take a chance like this.  We all know it’s a low chance anything would happen but you never know, you’d rather have that opportunity than not have it.

PinstripesPlus.com: I want to ask about Jake Mangum, another draft eligible sophomore and your 30th round pick.  What’s the book on him?

Oppenheimer: It’s a speed game. He’s the fastest guy we drafted [this year], centerfield, we know a lot about the makeup from [Andy] Cannizaro, he doesn’t have any pop in his swing but he’s got speed, makeup, feel, etc.  He’s already come out and said he’s going back to school.  We’ll give it time but I think it’s going to be a difficult one to sign.

PinstripesPlus.com: What about Jimmy Herron from Duke, another draft eligible sophomore, what’s his deal?

Oppenheimer: I said Mangum was probably the fastest and Jimmy Herron could be as fast is not faster.  He’s playing in the Cape Cod League, he’s up there wit Orleans, and he’s gotten off to a decent start.  He’s a burner.  He’s one of those guys we’ll look at hard here before the deadline and once again see if it makes sense.  He’s that burner, pure centerfield tool and he’s made some improvements swinging the bat a little bit too so we’re excited to see what we can do there too.

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