Pitching coach Matt Blake has made the Yankees a force to be reckoned with on the mound. Led by ace Gerrit Cole, New York’s team ERA has ranked eighth, third, and second in the American League during Blake’s three years at the helm.
But even with the emergence of Nestor Cortes and free agent Carlos Rodon coming next year, there’s trouble down the line. At some point, the Yankees will have to do something about their serious lack of pitching prospects.
It’s a shocking development, yet brutally true. Clarke Schmidt hit his ceiling as a starter in the minors and is better off suited as a reliever in MLB. Deivi Garcia has struggled so much with his control the last two years and obviously benefitted from Spider Tack.
The 16 pitchers among the Yankees’ top 30 prospects don’t really contradict this argument either. Righty Will Warren is the highest-ranked at No. 8, but he’s already 23 and hasn’t pitched above Double-A. The same can be said for No. 9 Clayton Beeter, who’s already 24 and probably better as a reliever.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean the Yankees are in danger of becoming a losing team anytime soon. Cole has six years left on his deal and Rodon is about to start a six-year contract of his own. Cortes just entered his arbitration years. Luis Severino, like new captain Aaron Judge, wants to be a “Yankee for life.”
The Yankees also have some interesting young pitchers who could maybe debut this season. 24-year-old Jhony Brito (No. 22) had a 2.96 ERA across Double and Triple-A and has potential as a soft contact/control specialist. Yoendrys Gomez (No. 12) is also exciting despite health and control issues.
Let’s not also forget youngster sensation Luis Gil (No. 10) could be back as a starter or reliever once he’s recovered from Tommy John surgery. Maybe it’s not too late for Garcia to rebound and rise up from dropping to No. 24.
The average age of the remaining pitchers in the Top 30 is 22.1 which, at face value, isn’t terrible. Yet, like any Brian Cashman prospect, their future is all about upside as opposed to current skill level. Much like every other young Yankee we’ve discussed here, they’re probably bullpen bound.
So where does that leave the Yankees? They’ve spent enough this offseason that Shohei Ohtani probably isn’t happening next winter. The pitching free agency market also doesn’t offer much in the next couple of years.
This means at the end of the day, the Yankees will hope at least one of these young arms hits and fills the back end of the rotation. Cashman can also surprise everyone with one phone call and make a trade that makes sense because the analytics say so.
But where things stand right now, the Yankees should be concerned about the future of their young pitching. Blake can only work his magic so much and even Cashman is capable of missing on draft picks. It’s not a problem that should be solved immediately, but certainly sooner rather than later.
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