A baseball club needs between eight and ten starting pitchers per season to cope with all the injuries, potential transactions, and other uncertainties, plus a myriad of arms to fill out the bullpen. Organizational depth is extremely important, and thankfully, there are some prospects who can help the Yankees as soon as 2020.
Provided they are not used as trade bait, here are five advanced pitching prospects who could potentially help the big league club next season:
Deivi García, 2019’s breakout pitcher in New York’s farm system, went from Low-A to Double-A in a span of three months. He made it all the way to Scranton (Triple-A) but struggled there, and that’s why he didn’t find himself in the Bronx in September.
Since he is slated to begin the season in Triple-A in 2020, he is in line for a call-up if the need ever presents itself—and it most likely will. García has great stuff but needs to refine his control, since his BB/9 rose to over 4.00 in the high minors this season.
García’s fastball-curveball combination is deadly, and led him to register ridiculous K% numbers at every stop. He is just 20 years old, and it’s scary to think how good he can become. As a starter or as a multi-inning reliever, he will make his contribution to the Yankees next season, provided he isn’t traded.
One of the pieces that came in the Brian McCann trade with the Astros in 2016, Abreu is 24 years old, so his moment is now. However, he hasn’t pitched past Double-A yet, and he handed free passes at a 4.93 clip last season.
The Yankees have been developing Abreu as a starter, but maybe it is time to put him in the bullpen and let him throw gas. There, he could become an option as a late-inning reliever for the Yankees as soon as 2020.
He has a mid-90s fastball that can approach 100 mph, and both his breaking ball and changeup are also above average. The issue here is command and control. He needs them to keep starting, and he also needs health, since he has suffered several injuries recently.
In many aspects, Michael King the opposite of Albert Abreu. His stuff isn’t as loud, but he has far better command and control, which allows him to maintain a high floor as, at least a fifth-starter type. He may have potential for a little more, however.
King has already dominated at the Triple-A level, and even threw a couple of scoreless innings with the Yankees, thanks to a two-seam fastball that he commands very well. He gets lots of groundballs, which could help him at Yankee Stadium, but he can also miss a bat here and there. His slider and changeup are adequate, as well.
King is the ideal spot starter for the Yankees, and figures to be available and ready to at least keep the team in the game provided he is in the organization in 2020, since he can be used as trade bait.
Garrett Whitlock is another high-probability, lower-ceiling kind of pitching prospect. His fastball isn’t as loud as others in the system—it sits in the low-90s, touching 95 MPH on occasion—but he has good control of it and it sinks, which helps him get his fair share of grounders. He also throws a slider and a changeup.
The righty could present a different look for hitters since he is tall (6’5’’) and creates great extension and a difficult angle. He throws strikes and could fit with the big club either as a spot starter, a traditional long reliever, or as a multi-inning weapon a la Chad Green.
After mastering Double-A with a 3.07 ERA in 14 starts, he could start the year in Scranton, putting him just a call away from the Bronx.
With mid-to-high 90s fastballs and below-average command, Nick Nelson makes sense as a reliever. His path to the Bronx could be much faster that way, as well.
In general, Nelson is a power righty who can miss bats and get grounders with his heavy fastball. He also throws a very good curveball, a splitter, and a slider, all of which lack consistency.
He is being developed as a starter but unless he improves his control and command, he won’t cut it there. He has a chance, though, as evidenced by the fact he put a manageable 3.00 BB/9 in 21.0 Triple-A innings in 2019, and it remains to be seen what the team has planned for him.