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Yankees trade Manny Banuelos: Chasen Shreve could be the real prize

A full six years of service time for a promising relief pitching prospect? You can sign me up.

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Chasen Shreve, coming into the 2014 season, was the fringy-est of fringe prospects. I think that even calling him a prospect would be generous. He pitched to a 4.43 ERA and 3.45 FIP with nearly one walk for every strikeout (5.91 K/9, 4.64 BB/9) in 2013 at Double-A, so he was probably a bad season or two away from being cut.

But, of course, that all changed. He pitched to a 2.48 ERA last season in Double-A, and he improved his strikeout to walk ratio to a ridiculous 8.44. He pitched a few good innings for Triple-A before being called up to the Major League team, where he had a 0.78 ERA and 1.43 FIP in 12.1 innings. Now, he's a Yankee. How did we get here, and why should we be excited?

Shreve was born on July 12, 1990 in Las Vegas and graduated from Bonanza High School before attending the College of Southern Nevada (Fun fact: Shreve's catcher was none other than Bryce Harper). He pitched to a decent 3.25 ERA in his senior year at Southern Nevada before being drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 11th round of the 2010 Draft. As I mentioned, his performance until last year was pretty mediocre, when his walk rate dropped and his strikeout rate nearly doubled.

In a feature from John Sickels over at Minor League Ball, he mentions that Shreve emerged due to a noticeable improvement in his fastball. This improvement was mostly mental, because after the team told him to focus on control, he unnecessarily scaled down his fastball velocity. Now that he has decided to pack a bit more heat, he's now throwing a 95-mph fastball in addition to his good control; this fastball improvement only makes his complimentary pitches, namely his slider and change up, that much better.

Currently, most projection systems have Shreve as an above-average reliever, but I would take that with a large grain of salt. Steamer projects him to have a 3.32 ERA and 3.41 FIP in about 30 innings, but that still heavily weighs his results before his change in strategy, so it might not be accurate. His improvement was beyond PECOTA's 90th percentile projections for this season, so I can't imagine that a projection would be entirely accurate.

Another large piece to Shreve's value is his service time. Because he has only accumulated 0.041 years of service time, he has still maintained his rookie status for next season, meaning that the Yankees have six full years of team control, and most importantly--three full years of league-minimum salary. If the goal was to retool the bullpen with cheaper and younger options, then Brian Cashman has certainly achieved that goal.

Because Shreve's recent adjustments for increased velocity (and funny enough, control) have truly unleashed his potential, there's a lot to be optimistic about. He's only 24, as well. There's still room for growth, and we all know that the Yankees have a pretty good track record in procuring and developing relief pitchers. There is obviously some risk that this is just the sample size fooling us, but it's not like Cashman gave up anything of immediate value. There's plenty of upside, and a lot to get excited about for what could be an elite bullpen in 2015.