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Yankees Prospect Profile: Ian Clarkin

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After missing most of his first pro season, Clarkin had an impressive debut season.

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Background

The Yankees in recent drafts have tended to draft advanced college hitters like Eric Jagielo and Aaron Judge, but boy do they love high school pitchers. Even in their best draft and with a change in philosophy, the Yankees chose Ian Clarkin as the 33rd overall pick in their much-lauded 2013 draft. And even though high school pitchers certainly have more volatility, Clarkin was the right high school pitcher to choose, and he has definitely advanced enough to justify the pick.

Clarkin is a decently sized left-handed pitcher at six feet and two inches tall and 190 pounds, and his repertoire features a fastball, sweeping curve, and changeup. The fastball is easily his best pitch, which is currently seen as average but flashes plus,  and he generally operates between 90 and 93 mph, sometimes reaching as high as 95. His sweeping curve and changeup are currently seen as below average, but they both have the possibility of becoming average in the future. His mechanics can appear to be funky at first glance as he utilizes a large leg-kick to push his body forward, but he maintains enough balance that I don't see it becoming problematic. Overall, most scouts believe his realistic outlook is as a mid-rotation arm, but he's obviously a decent distance away from the big leagues at just 19 years-old, so I wouldn't start falling in love with him just yet.

After an undisclosed injury struck in 2013, the draftee only had three starts in his premiere season. But nonetheless, he came into 2014 raring to go, and he was able to throw 75 innings.

2014 Results

Charleston (A-): 70 IP, 3.21 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 9.13 K/9, 2.83 BB/9, 0.9 WARP

Tampa (A+): 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 2.39 FIP, 7.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 0.1 WARP

Considering he missed a full year of development, Clarkin had an excellent debut season. He struck out more than nine batters per nine, walked fewer than three per nine, and his ERA and FIP were good enough considering his stage of development and level. Of course, Charleston is a bit of a pitcher's park, but it seems that not only were his numbers good, but scouts also saw 45-50 Future Value potential.

Even though his walk rate was pretty low, there were still concerns about his control; he was simply "catching too much of [the plate]", as Ryan Parker of Baseball Prospectus wrote. If he develops a more advanced command of the outside corners of the strike zone, you're looking at a young arm with three major league caliber pitches and decent velocity. That's the dream of any scouting director.

2015 Outlook

Because he will enter the 2015 season as a 20 year-old, there is no rush to speed Clarkin along the development track. He had a very good year with Charleston to start his first full season as a pro, and the Yankees will probably look to start him at High-A Tampa and see how he does. If he advances at an extremely accelerated rate, then he could get a call up to Double-A Trenton by July or August.

However, they'll probably stick to the script. The coaches will continue working on developing Clarkin's three possibly quality offerings, as well as hoping to upgrade his command from just a fringe tool to a decent one. They will probably try to limit his innings like they did last year, so I would imagine there would be a soft cap of about 100 innings. Clarkin is an interesting prospect to watch, and he could be hanging around the upper echelons of the minors before we twist and turn.