By JED WEISBERGER
How good is the Yankees system? How much pitching talent is still there after trading several prospects?
Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Tyler Wade have become household names. So, have Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, who all have graduated to key roles with the Yankees, who now are fairly homegrown.
Most fans can tell you about Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, Domingo Acevedo, Domingo German and outfielder Estevan Florial, who lead the next group. We’ve decided to show just how talented the pitching group after Sheffield, Adams and the rest are.
“The Yankees’ pitching prospects down below (those who have only played in the lower minors) are impressive,’’ said a scout from a National League East team. “In fact, they have another future starting rotation there if all works out.
“They have done a terrific job with their system.’’
And this is after trading pitchers Taylor Widener, Jorge Guzman and James Kaprielian – all of whom rated as having big-league futures – for some needed pieces.
Here are some impressive Yankees pitching prospects, who are all right-handed. A southpaw or two in the 2018 draft could be in order:
Luis Medina – This native of the Dominican Republic is already being compared to his countryman Severino. He won’t turn 19 until next May 3, but already throws a fastball that sits in the high 90s, a high-spin curve and a change that is not as developed in the other two. With the highest pitching ceiling in the system, he’ll likely head to Short-Season Staten Island for 2018.
Albert Abreu – The reason you haven’t heard much about this 22-year-old Dominican in spring training is he is recovering from an appendectomy. He also throws a fastball that sits in the 90s – and has hit 101 – a curve and a change that have potential. When recovered, Abreu will likely report to Class-A Advanced Tampa and get a shot at Double-A Trenton in 2018.
Dillon Tate – The Yankee are not sure whether this 23-year-old (turns 24 May 1) will be a starter or reliever. The Cal-Santa Barbara product, who was Texas’ first-round pick in 2015, throws a fastball that has topped out at 97, potential plus pitches in a slider and change. He’ll be a key in Trenton’s rotation to start 2018.
Matt Sauer – Drafted out of Santa Maria (Calif.) High in the second round of the 2017 draft this 19-year-old has power in a 6-foot-4, 201-pound frame, throws a fastball that had hit 97, two curves and a change. Mechanics and the Yankees deciding whether a slider would help his array, are on the docket for 2018, which likely will begin at Appalachian League Pulaski.
Freicer Perez – At 6-foot-8, 240, the 22-year-old Dominican Republic native took major steps in 2017, putting together a 10-3, 2.84 mark in 24 starts and 124 innings for Low-Class A Charleston, He allowed just 96 hits and had a strikeout/walk ratio of 96-45. He throws a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and had hit triple digits, an excellent change and developing slider and curve. He’ll start at Tampa with a shot at Trenton later in the 2018 season if all goes well.
Trevor Stephan – Another pitcher with a big frame (6-4, 210), this 2017 third-round selection from the University of Arkansas looked sharp in going 1-1, 1.39 at Staten Island in 2017. He made 10 appearances, starting nine times, with a 43-6 strikeout/walk ratio. He throws a low-90s fastball with a funky delivery, a slider that produces strikeouts and a change that needs to develop. Charleston will be a good test for him.
There are others, such as Juan Then, Juan De Paula and Deivi Garcia, who bear watching. We’ll explore the Yankees’ “down below’’ position prospects in a future piece.