The Yankees’ roster brings a tremendous amount of big-league experience to the table at every position on the field, but teams around baseball are using the 2020 season to bring some of their top teenage prospects and recent draft picks into the mix, allowing them to play on their taxi-squad roster. The Yankees, meanwhile, have focused on players who are near major-league ready or already part of their 40-man roster. The two youngest members of the Yankees 60-man squad, Deivi Garcia and Luis Medina, have a path to the majors and could help pitch the Yankees into the playoffs.
The two pitchers turned 21 in May while baseball was shutdown for the COVID-19 pandemic. Signed as part of the same 2015 international free agent class, both Garcia and Medina have caught the attention of scouts and were added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster last November.
Attention to Garcia has largely been based on his performances, producing incredible numbers despite his 5-feet 9-inch frame. Medina’s raw stuff has impressed scouts, but outside of a short sample size at the end of 2019, he has not shown the command and control that will allow him to reach his potential.
Garcia rose rapidly through the Yankees’ system, earning two promotions on the back of his impressive 13.3 K/9 rate. He seemed to be on the cusp of a September call-up late in the summer, but he was derailed by his struggles at Triple-A Scranton.
One feature of the 2020 campaign that could help Garcia get his foot in the door is the 30-man active rosters teams will carry to start the season. Rosters will not shrink down to the new 26-man limits until a month into the campaign.
Garcia stands a good chance to break camp with the team as one of the extra players. His experience working as a starter all the way to the Triple-A level gives him an advantage over several other members of the 40-man roster. His experience working as a starter gives him a chance to provide valuable innings for the team right out of the gate as pitchers continue to build up their pitch counts.
The Yankees also experimented with Garcia in a relief role late last season. Relievers will be required to face three hitters this season, placing more value on a pitcher who can work through a lineup as opposed to that roster spot going to a situational lefty. His strong strikeout rate gives him the chance to be the guy that the Yankees can look to in order to get out of a runners-on scenario.
Medina will have a bigger hill to climb in order to reach the majors this season. He finished last season with High-A Tampa, but showed signs that he was on the cusp of rapidly rising through the system in 2020.
Armed with some of the best stuff in the Yankees’ system for several years now, Medina only began to harness his ability in the middle of 2019. After walking over a batter an inning in his first nine starts he turned a corner and limited that rate to 3.8 BB/9 rate over his last 13 starts.
Armed with a high-90s fastball that can cross the 100 mph threshold, he has the stuff to profile as a power reliever almost immediately. He also has an above-average curveball and a developing changeup. With two elite pitches, he had an 11.27 K/9, and opponents hit just .197 off him down the stretch last season.
Even with expanded rosters it is unlikely that Medina would break camp with the big-league club. As a member of the 40-man roster, he has already crossed one threshold that can facilitate his promotion to the majors. Working in the controlled setting of the taxi squad environment the Yankees can cater his development to either the rotation or the bullpen.
The Yankees are built to win this year, and their 60-man roster reflects that. The organization has a number of talented minor leaguers who did not make the cut for the roster, as their peers have in other organizations have. The two youngest Yankees have a very real chance to contribute this coming season as their talent can carry them to the show.