MLB, the players’ association and other parties are currently discussing the possibility of returning to play sometime in the summer, with early July looking like a plausible scenario. The coronavirus is still lurking around America, and some conditions would need to be met in order for players to take the field.
If that happens, the most likely situation is that MLB returns with expanded roster and a “taxi” squad. However, having a minor league season seems like a pipe dream at this point.
That would mean that hundreds of prospects around the league will not have a platform to showcase their talents and improve their games in live action. Such a situation would directly affect their future and, potentially, their earnings.
But for now, let’s keep everything related to sports and not finance. The New York Yankees have a lot of prospects, and no matter how big rosters and the taxi squad are, they can’t possibly fit all their interesting young players in their MLB plans for 2020.
In my honest opinion, given all the factors at play the most affected Yankees prospect in the event that the MiLB season is indeed cancelled will be Luis Medina.
If you follow the Yankees’ farm system, and have done it for a few years now, you know how hard it was for the talented righty to throw strikes. He is blessed with phenomenal fastball velocity (mid-to-high 90s) and a fantastic hook, but control has always been a problem.
Before a 10.2-inning stint at Class A-Advanced last year, his previous career-best in BB/9 was 5.48 in 23 rookie-ball innings in 2017. Every mark he posted besides that was even worse. He even managed to hand over 11.50 free passes per each nine innings in a 36-inning stint in rookie ball back in 2018. Yikes.
However, after a promotion to Charleston last season, something seemed to click. In those 10.2 innings, he had a 2.53 BB/9 and a 10.13 K/9 mark, with a 0.84 ERA and a 1.90 FIP. In reality, his turnaround started in his final six starts with the Class-A Charleston RiverDogs. In those, he managed to drop his BB/9 to 3.09, and that earned him the promotion.
The 2020 season was going to be crucial for Medina. He has been in the Yankees’ system since 2016, yet he just turned 21-years-old. Time is still on his side, but the team brass needed to see if the control gains he made last season could be sustained over the course of several months in a row.
Medina needs continued reps against High-A opposition to see if what he did to end last year was real or a mirage. Unfortunately, right now it is very difficult to envision a minor league season given that there aren’t even guarantees for MLB action to return, and time is running out.
Let’s hope that Medina isn’t too affected by the long layoff and he can come back throwing strikes, just like he did last year to close out his season. I don’t think he needs to be a sub 3.00 BB/9 guy to succeed in the long term, but given his ugly track record, I do worry about his long-term ability to control where he pitches the baseball.