The Yankees started the 2020 draft two picks short after forfeiting their second and fifth round picks in order to sign Gerrit Cole. Additional limitations on the number of players the team could draft were put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the Yankees with just three picks by the time draft night arrived. With their third pick of the draft, the Yankees selected 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher Beck Way out of Northwest Florida Junior College.
With an over-slot bonus, the Yankees were able to sign Way away from his commitment to Division 1 baseball powerhouse Louisiana State University. Way is proud of the fact that he was the only pitcher selected by the Yankees in the draft and will have the chance in 2021 to put himself at the front of the next wave of pitchers heading to the Bronx.
2020 Stats (Northwest Florida – JUCO): 40 IP, 0.67 ERA, 58 K, 9 BB, .126 BAA
Prospect Rankings (Yankees Organization): 24 (MLB), 22 (FanGraphs), 16 (Baseball America)
Entering the draft, Way was touching 97 mph with his fastball while sitting in the 92-94 range through his starts. His four-seam fastball has a distinct tailing action that makes it a very effective pitch. While working in relief during the 2019 Cape Cod League, Way was able to sit 96-97 mph and put together a strong summer on the cape against some of the best collegiate competition in the country.
With no minor league season or domestic instructional league to play in, one of Way’s first stops after signing with the Yankees was to Cressey Sports Performance for an evaluation with the Yankees strength and conditioning team. There he worked with Eric Cressey and the staff to get a baseline on his physical performance. During an interview with Pinstripe Alley in early September, Way said about his trip to CSP, “One of the topics we discussed was leg strength and leg mobility and how much that has to do with your velo. We’ve broken down when I was throwing 92-93 mph, and what my legs were doing. We realized when I was throwing harder at like 96-97, my legs work like this, so we basically broke down some mechanics and he picked stuff out right away that I wouldn’t have noticed, and that’s where I got. Right now until hopefully spring training comes around, I’m trying to get the legs stronger.”
He also has an outstanding changeup that has the potential to be a plus pitch in the eyes of scouts with just a little more consistency. The last pitch in his three-pitch mix is a slider. There are scouts that see a potential plus pitch if he can be more consistent with it, but other reports indicate that the offerings needs a lot of work to become an effective tool. Like many young pitchers, his ability to develop a third pitch will determine his ceiling moving forward.
Coming off a strong JUCO career, Way is one of the few pitchers in the Yankees system who logged game action in 2020. He is likely headed to Low-A Tampa to start the season, but has the potential to move up to High-A Hudson Valley this year. The Yankees system has been known for hard throwing right-handers over the last few years, but the most prominent of those, Deivi García, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Gil, Luis Medina and Alexander Vizcaino have reached the upper levels of the Yankees system. Way is one of the higher ceiling arms that will be forming the next wave of pitching talent looking to begin their rise towards the majors from the lower levels this year.
Beck Way’s professional debut will be worth keeping an eye on in 2021. The talented right-hander has the potential to become one of the Yankees’ top pitching prospects over the next few years. Coming out of the COVID pandemic, Way and his peers will face the challenges of ramping up back into game action, but they also have the potential to break out from the pack in a big way.