Yankees scouting boss explains why George Lombard Jr. was the pick in first round of MLB draft

13 July 2023

The Yankees drafted yet another player with Vanderbilt ties in the first round of the MLB draft. Shortstop George Lombard Jr. from Gulliver Prep High School (Fla.) was selected 26th overall by the Bombers on Sunday.

The son of former major leaguer George Lombard was committed to play shortstop for Vanderbilt just as Anthony Volpe was back in the 2019 draft. Now Lombard will have to make the decision to head to Nashville or jumpstart his professional career with the Yanks.

The selection of the 18-year-old comes a year after the Yanks dipped into the Vanderbilt basket again selecting outfielder Spencer Jones with their first-round pick in the 2022 draft.

“It does look like we’ve gone down that route. It says something about Vanderbilt,” said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ Vice President of Domestic Amateur Scouting. “They recruit good players, they have a good program and — just like we do — they do their deep dives into what kind of human being they recruit.

“So, when it comes to a Volpe, when it comes to a Spencer [Jones] and this year with George, there’s a common theme that we’re getting guys with talent that have good intestinal fortitude, they have work ethic and I think we’re on the same page with some of those things they’re doing at Vanderbilt.”

The 6-3 Lombard hit .478 (43-90) with six homers and 22 RBI in 29 games during his senior season at Gulliver Prep and was named by the Miami Herald as one of the Miami-Dade County Athletes of the Year in 2023.

While the stats and accolades are impressive for the shortstop prospect, the Yankees’ attraction to selecting him in the first round goes way beyond the box score and deep into his bloodlines.

“There isn’t one thing, there’s a lot of things that intrigue us about him,” Oppenheimer said. “His athleticism, the fact that he was a two-sport guy— he was an elite soccer player also. The way he plays shortstop, hit tools that he has to play shortstop, his power that he has to swing the bat and his contact skills.

“You top that off with elite makeup — the guy has grit, he doesn’t take any pitches off and you get major league bloodlines having his dad being an ex-major league player and his mom being an elite soccer player and gymnast. Those kinds of things all add up to us to what we think we can get is a special prospect, special major league–type player.”

Lombard Sr. played six years with the Braves, Tigers, Rays and Nationals, owning a .621 OPS in 144 career games. The 47-year-old is now the bench coach for A.J. Hinch’s staff in Detroit.

Despite his size, the Yanks believe Lombard can and will stick at shortstop as Oppenheimer touted his athleticism and projectability to remain in the middle of the diamond. It appears that shortstop may be locked up for a long time in the Bronx with the 22-year-old Volpe seemingly coming around — .300 with four homers and a .906 OPS in 24 games since changing his stance at the infamous chicken parm dinner with catching prospect Austin Wells.

Oppenheimer added that despite Volpe’s potential long-term stronghold on the position, that does not alter their decision-making of taking the best available in the draft.

“Unlike the other sports where they’re kind of picking for need right away, we’re not. We’re trying to make sure that we’re able to pick for what we think is best available. For us, trying to stay in the middle of the field is important. Guys that can be athletic in the middle of the field, that’s why we go with that. …

“We had a lot of people in this one that were on board with George. There was no dissension at all in terms of picking him, so that turned out pretty good.”


The Yankees will open up the 2024 season in their house of horrors. The Houston Astros will welcome the Bombers to Minute Maid Park on March 28, 2024 for a three-game series as MLB released the schedule on Thursday.

The Subway Series will be making a return in the same two-game series format as seen in years past. The Mets will host at Citi Field from June 25-26 with the final two games coming at Yankee Stadium on July 23-24.

The Yanks’ first trip up to Fenway Park will come on June 14-16 for their first look at the Boston Red Sox. The Sox will head to the Bronx from July 5-7.

The club will close out their season with a six-game homestand including three against the Baltimore Orioles (Sept. 24-26) and three with the Pittsburgh Pirates (Sept. 27-29).


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