The Yankees organization has taken a lot of flack for being unable to produce useful talent at the major league level. The one thing they have been able to produce is quality relievers. David Robertson, Tyler Clippard, Mike Dunn, Randy Choate, George Kontos have all come up through the Yankees system and have all found a place in the majors. Preston Claiborne, Adam Warren and David Phelps are the latest to make an impact with the team and will hopefully find longterm success, but there are a few prospects coming up the line who could prove to be high-strikeout relievers.
The 27-year-old Rigoberto Arrebato got his first taste of Double-A this season, and though he was harmed by a 3.7 BB/9 this season between Trenton and Tampa, he also had a 10.2 K/9. It's been an improvement over his career 3.9 BB/9 and 9.8 K/9 rates. As a lefty he could bring added value if he can show he's tough on lefties. In his two years with the organization, right-handed hitters have a .690 OPS against righties and left-handed hitters have a .624 OPS against him. Even better, he kept lefties to a .544 OPS in 2013, making him a strong potential lefty specialist in the near future.
ETA: If he has another season like he did in 2013, he could find himself in Triple-A and on the MLB radar. Maybe if he gets a chance in spring training next season he could find a way up next September. It all depends on the lefty specialist situation inside the organization going forward.
Manny Barreda made it to Double-A, but has managed to stay hidden under the radar since he first entered the system in 2007. He has a career strikeout rate of 9.7 batters per nine innings and maintained a 10.0 K/9 in 52.1 innings with High-A Tampa this season. Unfortunately, he also has also walked 4.7 batters per nine innings, though he greatly improved this season with a 3.3 BB/9. It's hard to know for sure whether or not he's made an actual improvement or this season was just a fluke, so 2014 will be telling when he starts the season in Trenton.
ETA: He'll be 25 this season, so this could be his last good chance to make an impression before he's labeled as "old." If he makes it to Triple-A this season and is still showing improved control, he could make it up in September or could get in the conversation for 2015. No matter what, it's going to be a struggle for him.
Since being converted to a full-time reliever in May, Dellin Betances has kept opponents to a .169/.275/.259 batting line with a 1.87 ERA and 12.6 K/9. Walks will always be a problem for him, but he's stated that pitching more frequently has helped him control his mechanics. He still hasn't gotten a sufficient amount of time to prove himself at the major league level, but he's shown both sides of the coin, collecting five strikeouts, but also six hits and four runs in only two innings.
ETA: Right now. He's only pitched two innings in September, which is a little ridiculous consider the amount of playing time Joba Chamberlain has gotten. Hopefully he has a strong spring and has a chance to break camp with the team. He has the potential to be a cheap and highly effective weapon in the bullpen and the Yankees don't have to take that much of a risk.
Since joining the Yankees organization out of the Frontier League, Aaron Dott has posted a 10.5 K/9 since 2011. Now 25 in 2013, he posted a 10.7 K/9 and a 3.1 BB/9, which is an improvement over his 9.7 and 4.1 rates in 2012. His 4.57 ERA is ugly, but a 2.87 FIP and .386 BABIP in 45.1 innings makes it look like the lefty was a little unlucky this year. His 2.63 FIP since joining the Yankees system, compared to the 3.25 FIP he posted between 2009 and 2010 in the Tampa Bay Rays system (with a 7.4 K/9), could mean that he figured something out and is now a different pitcher.
ETA: If he can show that he was unlucky in 2013 and can keep striking people out, he could make it to Triple-A in 2014. If he can control his walk rate he could be up in the big leagues as the next Preston Claiborne, if the need arises.
Taylor Garrison was drafted last season in the seventh round of the draft and signed early enough to get 27.2 innings of and struck out 9.1 batters per nine innings in Staten Island. In 2013 he started the season in Low-A Charleston and racked up 11.1 batters per nine innings and quickly moved up to High-A Tampa after compiling a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings. He pitched 43.1 innings in Tampa, but only had a 7.3 K/9. While that's not very attractive, it appears it was due to a poor August, where he only managed a 4.7 K/9 in 13.1 innings, while it was an 11.6 in 9.1 July innings. At no point did he ever really struggle this year, however, the sudden drop in strikeouts is alarming. He has a career 2.3 BB/9, so it seems that his only hinderance would be whether or not he can still miss bats.
ETA: He will likely stay in High-A Tampa again in 2014, but if he shows he can overcome the heightened level of competition, Garrison can make the move to Trenton. He could be in position for a call up in 2015 or 2016, depending on what he does in the upper levels of the system.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Nick Goody when he was drafted in 2012. He went through three levels in one year and compiled a 14.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, and 5.6 H/9. His 1.12 ERA and 0.82 FIP in 32 innings show just how much he dominated the minors. Then, in 2013, he needed Tommy John surgery and everything fell apart. He'll probably miss most, if not all, of next season as well, meaning he'll be 23 in 2015 and will really only have one full season of pro ball under his belt.
ETA: It's really hard to say anything about where he'll be pitching and how healthy he will be next season, so 2016 is probably the safest expectation at this point.
Tom Kahnle was almost traded for Alfonso Soriano, but the Trenton closer managed to collect 15 saves while also striking out 11.1 batters per nine innings. Unfortunately, he also had a bloated 6.8 walk rate, elevating his FIP to 3.85 in 60 innings pitched. This is the first time his FIP has gone over three, but he does have a career 5.2, so he has history with control problems. His 12.0 career strikeout rate is the thing that will push him through the system.
ETA: It's unclear where he will be next season. He could easily be in Triple-A or the Yankees could hold him back in the hopes he can get his walk rate under control. He likely won't be up in 2014 because there are just too many question marks, but 2015 could be his best and last chance to make a push for the majors.
Everyone knows about Mark Montgomery. Star relief prospect who blew through the system, but hit a roadblock in 2013. He had a 16.2 K/9 in 2011, a 13.8 K/9 in 2012, and now an 11.7 K/9. 2013 proved to be a disaster for him after compiling a 5.6 BB/9 and 8.1 H/9 while battling shoulder fatigue all season long. If he's healthy in 2014 he should rebound, but his career already looks like it's spiraling downward. He'll be 23 next season, so he's still young and has plenty of time to rebound.
ETA: He was supposed to be in the majors this year, so it could happen in 2014, but this rather large hiccup might hurt his chances of becoming the next D-Rob. Hopefully he'll report to spring training in better shape than he did this season.
After going undrafted, the Yankees found Charley Short in the Pecos League. In 16.1 innings in Low-A Charleston, he had a 12.7 K/9 last year. In 2013, he jumped three levels, reaching Double-A and posting a 12.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 on the season. His 2.02 ERA and 2.12 FIP show that he's not just a high-strikeout reliever, but he also has the potential to be an elite bullpen arm in the near future.
ETA: He's already 25, so the Yankees might accelerate him through the system if he can continue mow batters down. He'll likely start the season in Double-A, so he could push himself into the majors as early as next season. Hopefully he gets a chance in the spring to actually put himself on the map.
Tyler Webb was drafted in 2013 and is already the draft class' highest riser. After accumulating eight strikeouts in only five innings with Staten Island, it was clear he was overpowering hitters. They bumped him up to Low-A Charleston and he proceeded to put up an 11.9 K/9 while also walking only 1.8 batters per nine innings in 30.1 innings. His 3.86 ERA was not as impressive, but a 2.97 FIP shows the lefty is very talented.
ETA: As a 23-year-old, he'll probably start in High-A Tampa and will be given a free run of the minors. If he takes an accelerated path, he could be ready for the majors by 2015, but nothing's certain.