— Leones del Caracas (@CuevaMelenuda) May 1, 2017
New York Yankees pitching prospect Ronald Herrera has downright dazzled in Trenton in 2017 and is certainly catching the organization’s eye.
Acquired in exchange for Jose Pirela in an offseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2015, the 22-year-old is finding himself despite getting his year started a bit late (April 30) due to a trip to the 7-day disabled list.
In five games for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, Herrera has surrendered just five earned runs over 30.2 innings (1.47) with 21 strikeouts compared to five walks. Batters are also hitting a mere .183/.226/.266 with two home runs and a dismal OPS of .492. Among Eastern League starters with at least five starts, only Chance Adams, who is now in Triple-A, has a better ERA.
Herrara last pitched on Tuesday in a start against the Reading Fightin Phils and dominated yet again. The native of Maracay, Venezuela improved to 5-0 after pitching seven strong innings, striking out as many batters, walking one and allowing two runs on four hits. His game score of 67 was his best since going six scoreless innings on May 7.
The two-time pitcher-of-the-week has made 36 career minor league starts in Double-A and owns an 18-8 record with a 3.58 One of the highlights of his Trenton career was when he and Jonathon Holder combined to throw a no-hitter on April 26.
What makes Herrera one of the more interesting cases in the minors is that he’s on the New York Yankees’ 40-man roster. Of course, it was used for Rule-5 draft protection, but it goes to show that the franchise has high hopes for the kid who oftentimes goes overlooked in favor of prospects like Adams, Justus Sheffield and Domingo Acevedo.
Herrera packs a fastball that averages in the low 90s and tops off at 95. The heater is complemented that with a slider and changeup — which comes with what Baseball Prospectus calls “excellent command and deception.”
Scouts can also add “durable” to that description, as Herrera has notched over 130 innings in each of the last three seasons including 145.2 innings pitched between High-A Tampa and Trenton in 2015.
He has already tasted some Triple-A last year, where he was smacked around for five runs on seven hits in his only start, but when Herrara is healthy, he has shown that he is on his way to accomplish much greater things as a professional ballplayer. If he continues to dazzle like he is with the Thunder, the sky could be the limit.