Justus Sheffield was ? for @TrentonThunder today:
1 R (0 ER)
6 K#Yankees No. 6 lowers ERA to 3.28: https://t.co/yOJKLh6RRg pic.twitter.com/Z5VL4VTxPl
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 28, 2017
The New York Yankees top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield has been solid in his first year on the farm. How far is he from the Bronx?
While many loved to get hyped over top New York Yankees outfield prospect Clint Frazier after he was acquired from the Cleveland Indians, quite a few forgot that he wasn’t the only top-tier prospect brought to New York.
Left-handed starter Justus Sheffield is dazzling for the Double-A Trenton Thunder here in 2017 and is working his way up the ladder in hopes to reach his ceiling as a quality Major League starter.
In nine starts to kick off his first full season in the organization, Baseball Prospectus‘ 52nd-best prospect in the game owns a 4-2 record with a 3.28 ERA. He has also struck out 44 batters and walked 18 in 49.1 innings, good enough for a 2.44 K/BB rate.
Since May 22 (two starts), Sheffield has given up just one earned run on seven hits in 13 innings of work (0.69 ERA). While he has struck out 10 batters in that span, opponents own a .152/.204/.239 and an abysmal BABIP of .171. In each of his last three starts, the 21-year-old has earned a winning decision and has also gone at least six innings. Before then, he had registered six innings just once (April 18).
Sheffield’s latest start came on Monday against the Portland Sea Dogs, where he fanned six hitters and allowing just three hits over 6.2 innings of one-run (unearned) ball. The start dropped this 2017 ERA from 3.80 to 3.28.
The last two starts have earned Sheffield the honors of Eastern League Pitcher of the Week for May 22-29. He will look to build on this accomplishment this upcoming weekend, as Trenton hits the road for a trip to Richmond. As for Sheffield, when can we expect this sort of dominance in the Bronx?
With James Kaprielian sidelined for the foreseeable future thanks to Tommy John surgery, Sheffield has taken over as the system’s top pitching prospect — thanks also to a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90’s (can reach 96 mph with some bite to it), a mid-80’s slider and a changeup.
As for his ETA, MLB Pipeline lists 2018 as his time to shine under the bright lights of New York. One can assume, based on the organization’s tendency to take it easy on young arms, that he’ll remain in Trenton for the majority if not all of 2017. If he continues at the pace that just won him the pitcher of the week, a couple of starts for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders wouldn’t be far-fetched.
When Sheffield’s time for the show comes, scouts say the Southpaw has the upside of a No. 3 starter but could grow into something more thanks to his simple delivery and the potential of his command.