The Yankees might have found themselves a bargain in the eighth round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Despite being drafted by the Pirates in the fourth round last year, outfielder Brandon Thomas elected to return to Georgia Tech for his senior year. He led the Yellow Jackets in batting average and on-base percentage as a junior, and he finished his senior year with a .321 batting average, a .406 on-base percentage, one home run and 30 RBIs.
A bout of mononucleosis kept him out of action for two weeks, but Thomas bounced back. His strength gives him power potential, but he emphasizes making contact with a line-drive stroke.
Thomas is a plus runner and plays center field for the Yellow Jackets, but will need to improve his routes to stay there as a professional.
O'Neill, nephew of Yanks star, drafted by Bombers
Paul O'Neill's nephew sure knows how to hit. In a few years, he might get the chance to do it for his uncle's old team.
The Yankees drafted Michigan outfielder Michael O'Neill -- the nephew of the former Major Leaguer and current YES Network broadcaster -- with the 103rd pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
"Congrats to my nephew Michael O'Neill," Paul O'Neill said on Twitter. "Drafted by the Yankees today!!!"
Congrats to my nephew Michael O'Neill... Drafted by the Yankees today!!!- Paul O'Neill (@PaulONeillYES) June 7, 2013
O'Neill batted .329 with 11 doubles, six home runs and 30 RBIs this season for the Wolverines. The younger O'Neill, who turns 21 on June 12, makes consistent hard contact and sprays line drives to all fields.
Nicknamed the "Laser Show" by Michigan head coach Erik Bakich, O'Neill has mostly doubles power, with some room to add strength at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds. He should be a solid defender, but he isn't quite fast enough to be a center fielder and doesn't yet possess enough power to fit in at the corners.
O'Neill has proven to be an adept base stealer, going 19-for-24 in steal attempts this season. The Yankees previously drafted O'Neill in the 42nd round of the 2010 Draft, but he opted to go to college.
O'Neill wasn't the Yankees' only addition of the day, though. New York made six more selections on Friday, adding a talented group of players to their farm system.
The Yankees added an outfielder to pair with O'Neill and first-round pick Aaron Judge in the eighth round, selecting speedy Georgia Tech center fielder Brandon Thomas. They also shored up the middle of their infield, adding a pair of talented defenders in third-round pick Tyler Wade, a shortstop out of Murrieta Valley High School and sixth-round pick John Murphy out of Sacred Heart University.
New York also picked up an experienced quartet of college arms. The Yankees selected four pitchers on Day 2, all players who pitched in college this season. They started with Howard College's David Palladino in the fifth round, added LSU reliever Nick Rumbelow in the seventh, and closed the day with the selections of Auburn hurler Conner Kendrick in the ninth and South Carolina closer Tyler Webb in the 10th.
Day 3 of the Draft continues with Rounds 11-40 streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. ET.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Yanks like athleticism in fourth-round pick Wade
Wade played his way up Draft boards after an excellent senior season at Murrieta Valley High School in California, and it showed as the Yankees drafted him in the fourth round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
The shortstop hit a red-hot .524 on the year and impressed scouts with his speed and athleticism. Wade will need to put on some muscle before he can make a big league roster, but at 6-foot-2, 178 pounds, he has the frame to do it.
Wade hit well all spring, utilizing his natural line-drive stroke at the top of the lineup. He had just one home run during his senior season and likely will never be a power hitter, but the long ball isn't part of his game. What attracts scouts to Wade is his speed, which could translate well at the top of the lineup at the professional level.
Defensively, Wade has convinced scouts he can play shortstop in the big leagues. He has good range and an above-average throwing arm. Wade committed to San Diego State before his senior season.
Yankees take righty Palladino in fifth round
After drafting three straight position players, the Yankees went to the mound with their fifth-round pick, selecting right-handed pitcher David Palladino in the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Palladino began his college career last year at South Carolina-Upstate and pitched in 10 games before undergoing surgery to repair a tendon in his knee. He then transferred to Howard, where he played this season.
Palladino's fastball sits in the low-90s, occasionally touching 95 mph. Because his fastball is mostly straight, scouts say it is critical for Palladino to use his 6-foot-9, 230-pound frame to create a good downhill angle. He also throws a changeup, curveball and slider.
Despite his size, Palladino has an easy delivery and commands the ball well. He is committed to LSU.
Yanks find local product in shortstop Murphy
The Yankees stayed local with their sixth-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft, selecting Sacred Heart University shortstop John Murphy.
A Seymour, Conn., native, Murphy batted .367 for the Pioneers during his senior year, hitting four home runs, driving in 47 runs and racking up 29 stolen bases.
Murphy is a skilled fielder, and he can play multiple positions defensively. He's a left-handed hitter, and while he doesn't hit for much power, he uses the whole field. His speed is one of his best assets.
He batted .308 with four home runs, 16 RBIs and six stolen bases and was named a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer.
Yanks like what they see in LSU righty Rumbelow
Nick Rumbelow posted a solid season for LSU in 2013, and that performance got him drafted by the Yankees in the seventh round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Rumbelow made 29 appearances as a reliever for the Tigers last season, posting a 3.56 ERA and striking out 32 batters in 30 1/3 innings.
His fastball will sit in the low 90s, but is straight most of the time. He also throws a power curveball with good, sharp bite that has the chance to be a plus pitch. Rumbelow has a good amount of effort to his delivery, however, and doesn't have very good control.
Many scouts are concerned he will get injured in the future due to bad arm action, but the Yankees will give him and his solid two-pitch mix a shot in their Minor League bullpen.
Deceptive Kendrick perks Yankees' interest
Conner Kendrick is far from a power pitcher, but his deceiving delivery could help him prove to be a value pick for the Yankees in the ninth round of the First-Year Player Draft.
Kendrick throws his fastball in the upper 80s with good movement. He commands his changeup and curveball well, and both have the potential to be Major League-average offerings.
The deception in his delivery helps offset a slower fastball than the average professional, which helps his stuff play up. He earns praise for his poise and aggressiveness on the mound.
Yanks use final Day 2 pick on potential reliever Webb
With their final pick on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft, the Yankees selected a player who could someday be in the mix at the back end of their Major League bullpen.
New York grabbed South Carolina closer Tyler Webb with their 10th-round pick. A 6-foot-6, 225-pound left-handed pitcher from Nassawadox, Va., Webb saved 17 games during his senior season with the Gamecocks, striking out 60 batters in 39 2/3 innings and compiling a 1.32 ERA.
Webb has a quality fastball and curveball, and his velocity sits in the 90s. He projects as an effective member of a Major League bullpen.
He was previously drafted by the Reds in the 48th round of the 2010 Draft.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.