The Yankees don’t have much catching depth. Jake covered that yesterday. It’s probably the organization’s lone shortcoming. Starting pitching, on the other hand, represents an area of strength. The club boasts a healthy mix of elite arms and depth starters, making the starting pitching pipeline the envy of many teams.
Justus Sheffield stands out as the top prospect. The 22-year-old southpaw tossed four innings of one-run ball yesterday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Prior to that start, he managed a 2.01 ERA (2.55 FIP) in 40.1 innings across two levels. As a member of the RailRiders, he’s just one phone call away from New York. Barring a trade or injury, he could figure into the Yankees’ rotation as early as this summer.
Several pitchers sit in a tier below Sheffield. Erik Swanson, a secondary piece in the Carlos Beltran trade, emerged as this season’s breakout starter. The right-hander owns a 1.23 ERA, and his peripherals are just as good. Other pitchers in this secondary group include Albert Abreu and Dillon Tate. They’re not, however, as close to the show.
Further down are the likes of Trevor Stephan and Jonathan Loaisiga. Both reached Double-A Trenton this spring. They don’t have the name recognition of Sheffield, Abreu, or Tate, but they’re still quality prospects. They add to the organization’s depth and could take the next step forward soon.
The Yankees also have a number of electric arms gaining attention this year. Luis Medina, Freicer Perez, and Domingo Acevedo represent the standouts. That’s even with two of them being injured and one yet to pitch this season. They’re that talented. Plus, there are the top picks from last year’s draft, Clarke Schmidt and Matt Sauer. The Yankees have tremendous power starters at every level.
It’s not all good news, though. Chance Adams pitched his way out of the top prospect category. He hasn’t been able to buy an out this season. Adams is working with a 5.93 ERA and 5.23 FIP. His last start went only two-thirds of an inning; he faced seven batters and allowed three runs. Yikes.
It’s no secret that the Yankees have a pitching heavy farm system. The organization seems built around starting pitching. That doesn’t mean that Brian Cashman and company should steer clear of starters during the draft. There’s no such thing as too much starting pitching. I just don’t see the team stockpiling arms like they did last year. Expect some starters, especially when it comes to best available talent. The priority, however, is clearly high school bats, as that’s who they’ve been connected to in all of the latest rumors.