In this edition of ESNY’s New York Yankees prospect profile, we take a look at right-handed pitcher Zack Littell.
With their pick in the eleventh round of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Seattle Mariners selected right-handed pitcher Zack Littell out of Eastern Alamance High School.
Seattle was very high on Littell after drafting him, however, he was traded to the New York Yankees following the 2016 season in an under the radar move in exchange for James Pazos.
The 21-year old’s arsenal includes that of a fastball, curveball and changeup. His fastball usually only sits around 89 to 91 m.p.h. but is still an impactful pitch due to its rising life and pinpoint control.
It is widely known among scouts that Littell’s curveball is considered his best pitch as of now. This breaking pitch has a lot of break on it as well as the right-hander having full control over it’s landing spot.
His changeup is also a useful tool under his belt that gets some swings and misses and times but could still see some room for improvement.
Take a look at what scouts have to say about the rest of his skills:
Scouting grades via MLB Pipeline: Fastball: 50 / Curveball: 55 / Changeup: 50 / Control: 55 / Overall: 45
It should be noted that Littell’s control is what is the backbone of most of his pitches. Due to him not having stellar velocity, he prides himself on being one who pounds the strike zone and mixes up his pitches to get hitters off balance.
His frame currently sits at 6-foot-3 while weighing 190 pounds, a current major leaguer who could make a good comparison would be Kyle Hendricks. Both pitchers rely on command for success and have exactly the same frame.
Littell made his professional debut in 2013 as a 17-year old with the Arizona League Mariners. He went 0-6 in 10 appearances with a 5.94 ERA. While the M’s weren’t expecting much from Littell in this time, the numbers certainly were not too promising.
However, the right-hander bounced back a bit in 2014 with the Pulaski Mariners where he went 5-5 with a 4.52 ERA and an 8.3 K/9. He was beginning to transform into the pitcher the Mariners hoped he would be when they drafted him in 2013.
Following this bounce back 2014 campaign, the Mariners promoted Littell to their Single-A affiliate Clinton LumberKings for the 2015 season. Littell would take advantage of the opportunity and go 3-6 while sporting a 3.91 ERA in 21 games started.
While these past couple of seasons were nice, Littell still knew that he had more talent to showcase and could perform better than he was showing. He showed all of minor league baseball this come the 2016 season.
In 2016 split between two levels, the right-hander went 13-6 while sporting a 2.66 ERA and 8.5 K/9 over 27 starts. He solidified himself as a coveted pitcher within the Mariners system.
Fast forward to March of 2017 and he is now in the Yankees system, looking like he will begin the season with the team’s Double-A affiliate Trenton Thunder.
According to MLB Pipeline, he will most likely not arrive in the Bronx until 2019, however, if he keeps performing at a level like he did in 2016 it will be hard for the Yankees to keep him down.