According to MLB Pipeline, 21 of the Yankees top 30 prospects are right-handed pitchers. Among those 21 right-handers, Yoendrys Gomez, a 6-foot-3 19-year-old Venezuelan starter, ranks 18th. Gomez is listed as the Yankees number-26 overall prospect, but don’t expect Gomez to keep that ranking for long. In a system stacked with right-handed arms, Gomez is finding ways to stand out and make a name for himself in the Appalachian League this season.
In 2016, the Yankees were able to sign Gomez for only $50,000, as a lanky pitcher with a high-80’s fastball who was primarily viewed as a long-term project. However, it didn’t take long for Gomez to prove he was more than just a long-shot arm with a few projectable traits. In 2018 at age-18, he went 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 47.2 innings across the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League. He’s following up those results with another standout campaign in 2019. Gomez is 3-1 with a 0.86 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP over his first four starts for Pulaski this season. Those are hardly the results of a long-term project looking to find his way.
Baseball America’s Josh Norris wrote the following about Gomez after watching him pitch in the Gulf Coast League last year:
He sat between 92-95 mph in the first inning of the game, then settled in to the 91-94 mph range for the next four innings. The pitch featured natural sink and cut life, and he threw it for strikes to both sides of the plate.
He complimented the fastball mainly with an mid-to-high-70s curveball that showed deep 11-to-5 break... the curveball’s break was a little loopy at times, but Gomez clearly has feel to spin the pitch. He also threw a mid-80s changeup with moderate fading action that he was willing to use against both righties and lefties.
Gomez is already learning to use his natural sinking action to induce groundballs, as evidenced by his career-high 45.3% groundball rate so far in 2019. He does have room to improve on a 3.4 BB/9 rate, but it’s not as if he has a complete lack of command at this point in his young career. Gomez also isn’t a strikeout pitcher at the level of fellow prospects like Deivi Garcia (14.3 K/9) or Luis Gil (12.0 K/9), but he owns a solid 8.6 K/9 so far this season, showing an ability to miss bats in addition to inducing grounders.
Gomez’s frame, delivery, and pitch mix are a bit reminiscent of a young Jacob deGrom. Before you call out unfair comparisons, remember deGrom was the Mets’ number-19 overall prospect before making his debut in 2014. Gomez will likely never reach DeGrom’s level of success, but that’s the type of pitcher Gomez could seek to emulate as he moves up the prospect ladder.
Gomez has one of the highest ceilings in the Yankees farm system with his impressive three-pitch mix and plenty of room to add strength to his frame, but what’s even more impressive is his consistency as a teenager. Gomez hasn’t surrendered more than three runs in any one outing (13 starts) over the past two seasons, and he’s thrown at least five innings in each of his four starts this season, never surpassing 85 pitches.
If Gomez continues to impress for the rest of the 2019 season, it’s easy to envision him swapping places with number 14 overall prospect Luis Medina, who has triple-digit velocity but continues to struggle mightily with command. He’ll need to show some durability over a full minor league season in 2020 before he’s taken too seriously as a future rotation piece, but Gomez is certainly trending in the right direction. In a farm system ripe with right-handed arms, the young Venezuelan hurler is hard to ignore.