With all the promise coming from the New York Yankees system, they are in desperate need of at least one top-tier starter to emerge.When you think of the last New York Yankees farmhand to develop into an ace, you can’t possibly fathom there being just a couple over the last 30 years, can you?
The last ace to come from the depths of New York’s farm system to end up anchoring its staff was Taiwanese sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang and before him, it was the poker-faced Andy Pettitte.
In between that pair and even after an ankle injury derailed Wang’s career, the Yankees have had to look abroad to try and establish some sort of dominant force.
Yes, they have had some success stories like potential Hall-of-Famers Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens. Recently they obtained four years of a dominant CC Sabathia and an innings eater in Hiroki Kuroda, but the last three decades have been littered with utterly appalling results from “quick fixes.”
Perennial All-Star Kevin Brown became a perennial fall-off, Carl Pavano wanted no part in taking the mound, Kei Igawa’s jet lag from Japan never went away and Javier Vazques’ Yankees’ legacy is represented by the abuse he suffered from Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
Not to mention Ted Lilly, Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers, Jose Contreras, Hideki Irabu, Jaret Wright, Chan Ho Park and A.J. Burnett — the horrifying list goes on and on.
Now, however, an enormous wave of promising talent is flooding the Bronx and the hopes to obtain the next core of superstars — including an ace — have never been higher.
The enthusiasm began with first baseman Greg Bird in 2015, when he smashed 11 home runs in 46 games making not only a smooth transition to the major leagues, but giving the fans a first taste of what could be that next core.
Then, just six months ago, the prospect craze took to a new level when Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge cranked back-to-back home runs in their first major league at-bats. Finally, Gary Sanchez’s historic surge brought the youth movement to insane hype.
Now, there are six Yankees’ prospects inside Keith Law’s top 100 list thanks to the moves made last July, but if you have learned anything over the years, you shouldn’t throw all your eggs into the same basket concerning kids in this organization — especially pitching.
Why pitching? Well, while the frenzy surrounding the “baby bombers” has taken center stage, people are avoiding a glaring issue regarding the “baby hurlers” and the future of the rotation.
Think about it.
After the 2017 season, Masahiro Tanaka can opt out of his seven-year, $155 million contract while CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda could take a dive into the free agent pool as well.
That means unless Luis Severino pans out as a starter (and there are glaring signs that scream he’s destined to be a reliever) the Yankees are banking on the rest of its farm system to be able to spit out an ace throughout these next several years.
Chad Green, Luis Cessa, James Kaprielian, Chance Adams, Dietrich Enns and Justus Sheffield among others are promising, but don’t ignore the last time New York had several top prospects.
Just like Law did last week, Baseball America placed six Yankees’ prospects inside their top 100 list back in 2011.
That group featured Jesus Montero (3), Sanchez (30), Manny Banuelos (41), Dellin Betances (43), Andrew Brackman (78) and Austin Romine (98).
Out of that core of “future superstars,” one is off to a historic start, one is a failed starter that became an All-Star reliever, one is an average backup catcher and the remainder of once budding prospects completely busted into nothing.
Here in 2017, the Yankees will try to accurately identify what the farm system is composed of, with the aforementioned Judge, Bird and Sanchez in the majors, Clint Frazier is on the way with Gleyber Torres not too far behind.
However, the franchise can only hope Severino relapses into the encouragement of 2015, Tanaka continues forward as a healthy Yankee ace (along with not opting out) and a couple of the pitching “studs” pan out.
If they all pull a Brien Taylor (rated No. 1 Prospect by Baseball America in 1992), then the rotation of the future may be unable to compliment the immense potential that the baby bombers pack.
Basically, pitching prospects have been pretty much a crapshoot for the Yankees and the organization is in despondent demand of a homegrown ace to break the stereotype and become a top tier starter.
Unless they find their ace within this core, then the revolving door of starting pitching mediocrity (4.33 SP ERA since 2000) could continue to hold the New York Yankees back when they go for it all in 2019.