The unique nature of the 2020 season has provided an opportunity for young pitchers that would normally not arrive in the big leagues until rosters expanded in September. So far the Yankees have seen three players make their major league debut with mixed results. The remainder of the schedule will be a busy stretch, and with 28 active roster spots to work with, the Scranton Shuttle will continue to be active as fresh arms move between the Yankees and their alternate site. Let’s take a look at the four pitchers on the 40-man roster who have yet to make their major league debut, but could be the next Yankees prospect call-up.
Deivi Garcia is the first name that comes to mind when thinking about pitchers on the brink of their major league debut. Garica backed up the strong start to his professional career with an eye-opening 2019 campaign that saw him garner attention as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
After adding a slider in 2019, Garcia has four viable pitches. The 5-foot 9-inch right-hander struck out 13.3 batters per nine as he climbed through the minor leagues last season.
Garcia also received a strong endorsement from veteran catcher Erik Kratz who said “They’re ready to go. There’s no other way to say it. I mean, they’re ready to go,” when asked about Garcia and fellow pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt. After coming through the system as a starter, Garcia’s ability to miss bats could find him positioned in the bullpen much in the same way that fellow minor league starters Nick Nelson and Albert Abreu did.
Miguel Yajure was the Yankees’ 2019 minor league pitcher of the year, rising to the Double-A level to finish the season. He earned his way onto the 40-man roster after recording a 2.14 ERA over 138.2 innings pitched. Much of Yajure’s success was credited to improved velocity that saw his fastball touch 95 mph last season.
Yajure produced a career-high 54% groundball rate as he spent the bulk of his season with High-A Tampa. Standing out from many of his peers with an ability to locate his pitches, he routinely induced soft contact and went deep into his starts.
One of the hardest throwers in the Yankees system is Luis Gil, who was acquired from the Twins for outfielder Jake Cave prior to the 2018 season. The hard-throwing righty had failed to move past rookie ball before coming to the Yankees organization. He has shown improvement and been able to harness his fastball and slider since joining the organization.
While needing to improve his control if he is to rise up the ranks as a starting pitcher, Gil does have the tools to work out of the bullpen this season. Coming off a season where he recorded a 11.5 K/9 rate while starting, he could possibly air it out with his triple digit fastball.
Luis Medina is credited by many evaluators as having the best stuff in the Yankees system. He can push his fastball to 102 mph, and has a curveball that is considered elite when he can throw it close enough to the strike zone.
For all of Medina’s impressive pitches, his control has been equally erratic over the years. Nine starts into the 2019 season, he was walking over a batter an inning. From that point, Medina’s command improved dramatically, and he lowered his walk rate to just 3.8 BB/9 moving forward. Opponents hit just .197 off him and he rang up 11.27 K/9. If Medina’s command and control have continued to improve during his time at summer camp then he could be in the major leagues before too long.
In early September, the Yankees will play 12 games in 11 days. This will put a strain on any pitching staff. The Yankees could lean on Nick Nelson, Brooks Kriske and Albert Abreu who have already made their major league debuts in 2020, but other members of the 40-man roster could be in line to make their major league debuts. It will be exciting to see which young arms are ready to make an impact right away.