Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Yankees Emerging Pitching Prospects

The New York Yankees seem to have a plan that can be easily deciphered if you just pay attention. Think about the weakest link in the Yankees system and then wait until the next draft or international signing period, the team will go hard on that specific position until they are stacked at the position. The organization has done that with the catcher position, the outfield position and are currently doing that with the shortstop and middle infield positions. The next wave of stockpiling though seems to be the starting rotation and we are starting to see dividends of this finally with James Kaprielian and Domingo Acevedo. Those names you know, these names you may not.

None of these guys may be Top 50 prospects right now nor are they household names in many Yankees fans homes but I believe they will be by the time we reach Prospects Month 2017. This begins with Daniel Alvarez, the Venezuelan teenager recently added to the organization. Alvarez pounds the zone with a 92 MPH fastball and a highly advanced curveball that is only going to get better as he matures both in mind and in body.

Also from Venezuela is Luis Cedeno who throws a ton of strikes in a much smaller frame. In size he reminds me of Luis Severino and he throws a 95 MPH fastball with a breaking ball that needs some work going forward. His ceiling is probably that of a #2 or #3 starter at best.

The Yankees broke the bank and went all-in on the international market in recent years and probably the best arm to come from the spending spree was RHP Luis Medina. Medina is already hitting 100 MPH as a 16-year old kid and his ceiling is absolutely sky high because of it. His command needs work and so does his secondary stuff, what 16-year old pitcher doesn't need polish and work though, and he will look to do that in the Dominican Summer League this season.

While the Yankees added a top-end arm from the international market with Medina they added another potential ace from the draft in Jose Mesa Jr. Mesa, the son of a former MLB pitcher by the same name, was a 24th round pick by the Yankees in 2012 and the team's patience is beginning to pay off. Mesa has added two-to-three MPH on his fastball since being drafted and has worked on his secondary pitches making them, at worst, average. New York experimented with Mesa out of the bullpen but are now toying with the idea of moving him into the starting rotation in 2016.

The final piece that came to the Yankees via the draft is RHP Garrett Mundell who was drafted in the 24th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Mundell signed almost immediately and was able to throw 26 combined innings between Pulaski and Charleston last season. Mundell did not allow a single earned run in his two stops while boasting a 91-93 MPH fastball, a nice breaking ball and an even better splitter when he uses it.

Finally you have the reclamation projects that miss a ton of time due to various injuries will missing out on very important development years. This list begins and ends with Ty Hensley. Hensley is said to be back on the mound throwing after being viciously attacked, after having hip surgery and Tommy John surgery all in about two calendar years. Hensley has to stay healthy to climb back to the top and I'm rooting for him to do just that.

Another reclamation project is former 11th round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft Caleb Frare. Frare, a southpaw, has missed the last two seasons with various arm injuries including Tommy John surgery and basically had his debut season in 2015. Frare blew away competition with a 96 MPH across two A-Ball levels in 2015 out of the bullpen and will be eased back into the starting rotation with his health in mind.

We finish with Dallas Martinez who was one of the best Yankees pitching prospects that many people had never heard of as recently as two seasons ago but a serious shoulder injury derailed his development. Martinez came back in 2015 with the Gulf Coast Yankees and posted solid numbers although his velocity took a bit of a dip initially. Martinez did reach 95 MPH on more than once occasion by the end of the season after starting with an 85 MPH fastball so the arm and shoulder finally look healthy and poised for a breakout in 2016.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)