Drafted with the 307th overall pick in the 10th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Yankees selected left-handed starter Trevor Lane out of the University of Illinois Chicago. Converted to a reliever when he joined the Yankees organization, he steadily rose through the farm system, spending the majority of the 2019 season with the Trenton Thunder but making a brief cameo (two games) with Triple-A Scranton.
2019 Stats (High-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton, Triple-A Scranton): 6-2, 2.05 ERA, 44 G, 74.2 IP, 74 K, 26 BB
2021 Spring Training Stats: 4 G, 3 IP, 0 runs, 3 hits 6 K, 4 BB, 4.3 OppQual.
Technically speaking, Lane was in the mix for the last spot in the Yankees bullpen this spring, with the team looking to add another lefty to the mix. However, the fact that he only made four appearances before being reassigned in early March to the minor league camp indicates that he was always destined for Triple-A.
Being a reliever, Lane would never be considered a highly-touted prospect, and would be need to be next-level elite — think the hype surrounding Joba Chamberlain in 2007 — in order to find himself high on the prospect rankings. Unfortunately, in the words of our own Dan Kelly earlier this year:
[Lane does not] project as much more than a lefty-on-lefty specialist at the next level and MLB’s rule changes regarding pitcher substitutions will make that a tough role to fulfill.
Despite this prognosis, however, there is nonetheless reason for optimism. In that same article, Dan quoted Lane’s teammates as describing his curveball as a “wipeout breaking ball.” Furthermore, he generates a lot of soft contact on the ground: his 2019 groundball rate at Double-A Trenton, where he made 41 of his 44 appearances, was 45.9 percent. On the other hand, he was unable to take his high-strikeout rate from High-A Tampa (he posted a 30.2 strikeout percentage in 29 appearances in 2018) with him as he advanced through the ranks (it fell to 23.9 percent with Trenton in 2019) — dropping him from the range of Braves pitching prospect Ian Anderson to that of former Yankees prospect and current Seattle Mariners pitcher Justus Sheffield. Despite this, he consistently keeps the ball in the zone, limiting his walks (8.7 BB percentage at Double-A in 2019).
Lane is not on the 40-man roster, but is currently at the alternate site in Scranton, and could easily make the jump to the Major Leagues as a member of the patented Scranton Shuttle. That will likely not be for quite some time, however, as the Yankees’ 40-man roster is currently full, and the Yankees presently have no fewer than eight pitchers ahead of him by virtue of already having a spot on it. That said, the Yankees always use a lot of relievers over the course of a season, and if the early goings are any indication, the Yankees will need a small army of them to get through 162 games; there’s no reason to think that Lane won’t be one of them.