Thursday, August 7, 2008

New York Yankees Mid-Summer Top 5 Pitching Prospects

The Yankees are on the verge of creating one of the more talented groups of young pitchers in the nation (of course, the recent struggles of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain’s latest shoulder concerns could put a damper on the whole process). They have some very talented pitchers coming up through their system, and the Yanks could have a very strong rotation in 5 to 8 years.

Rank, Player, Age.

1. Jairo Heredia, 18 – Between Heredia and Madison Bumgarner, it’s hard to say which 18 year old had the better year. I think most fans would give Bumgarner the edge statistically speaking, but Heredia’s ground ball rates will be a very valuable asset once he gets a major league level defense behind him. Comparisons to Pedro Martinez aren’t a stretch by any means.

Projection: Solid #2, possible #1
Comparable player: Pedro Martinez

2. Zach McAllister, 20 – Not dominant, but plenty of talent to make it in the majors. Good control, good strike out rates, advanced ground ball rate, and time to develop.

Projection: #2-3
Comparable player: James Shields

3. Dellin Betances, 20 – Perhaps more upside than McAllister, but also much less polished. He’ll be unhittable at times, but wildly inefficient at others. Should be a very gifted back of the rotation starter early in his career.

Projection: #1 when he’s hot, #3-4 when he’s not
Comparable player: Kerry Wood (the pre-injury starter)

4. David Robertson, 23 – On the verge of losing his prospect status, Robertson has 21 strike outs in 16 innings, and a ground ball rate that hovers in the low 50% range with the Yankees. While not as young or as talented as Joba Chamberlain, Robertson will provide enough depth in the bull pen to keep Chamberlain in the starting role for years to come.

Projection: Excellent relief pitcher, possible closer
Comparable player: Huston Street

5. Ian Kennedy, 23 – Kennedy is also a soon to be non-prospect, but he’s still working his way back up through AAA, so he qualifies even if just for a few more months. I did an extensive write up on Kennedy earlier this year in hopes that Yankees fans would realize that he’s more like Tom Gorzellany than Greg Maddux. Average talent, and a very low ceiling.

Projection: #4 or #5, with a shot at #1 or #2 on a very, very bad team
Comparable player: Tom Gorzellany

Honorable mentions: Alan Horne came into the season with a solid history of success, but a bicep injury has proved to be a significant setback. If he succeeds in his comeback, he might take the #4 or #5 spot on this list by next spring.

Side notes: Gerrit Cole and Scott Bittle -- the Yankees best pitching prospects from the 2008 draft – have yet to sign with the team, and there is information indicating that neither will be signed before the deadline. Had either pitcher signed, they would probably get the #4 and 5 spots.
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