The Yankees system is known for its deep well of hard-throwing pitchers, many of which Yankees fans and analysts are familiar with at this point. With no season in 2020, plenty of young pitchers found their way to advanced pitching labs and gyms to build up their bodies and refine their pitching game over an extended period of time in a way that they will likely never experience again. Now the games begin, and we will see if the work done inside a lab or on hometown fields can translate and propel some of these outstanding arms towards the major leagues.
After not participating in Yankees major league spring training, Braden Bristo was a surprise addition to the Yankees alternate training site roster. The right-hander has released videos of him throwing a breaking ball with spin rates that would put him in the 99th percentile of major league pitchers. Paired with a mid-90’s fastball, he has the potential to give even advanced hitters problems. Bristo will begin the season with Triple-A Scranton.
Joining Bristo in Scranton is Brian Keller. Drafted in the 39th round of the 2016 draft, Keller has outperformed expectations rising to the Triple-A level in 2019. He tossed a no-hitter for Double-A Trenton that season, and has posted a career 3.22 ERA while striking out a batter per inning for his career.
Another arm to keep an eye on is Addison Russ. Acquired from the Phillies last season for David Hale, he has posted strong strikeout numbers including a career-high 12.86 K/9 while pitching at the Double-A level in 2019. He was in spring training with the Yankees, and followed with another run at the alternate training site.
#GSM stud/NY @Yankees RHP #75 @RadAdd18 K’d 5 of the 6 batters he faced in his most recent Alt. Site outing! In 4 @MLB S.T. games this year, Russ did not give up a Run/Hit/Walk. Russ was traded to NYY from PHI last year — watch for him as he eyes his @MLB debut this year! #Family pic.twitter.com/dZVFnI9tis— Gaeta Sports Mgt (@GaetaSportsMgt) April 27, 2021
More power arms are coming through the system as Double-A Somerset will boast some quality arms as the season goes on. Luis Gil and Glenn Otto headline a group that also has some notable power arms coming out of their bullpen.
Especially of note is Keegan Curtis, who has flirted with a triple digit fastball this offseason during workouts and also boasts some quality secondary pitches. He will be joined by Greg Weissert, who Baseball America rated as having the best slider in the Yankees system.
Janson Junk will be looking to build off his offseason work to find better results in 2019. After constantly tinkering with his slider in 2019, he refined the pitch during the lost 2020 season and is expecting much better results this year. He also can sit in the mid-90’s with his fastball, giving him legitimate velocity to continue climbing the ladder.
The High-A Hudson Valley Renegades rotation is filled with a fleet of impressive arms. Tanner Myatt has one of the best arms in the system. He pairs an upper 90’s fastball that can hit triple digits with a nasty slider that looks unhittable when he is at his best. Myatt has struggled with control, but feels that he is heading in the right direction after his offseason work refined his mechanics. The assignment to High-A is a sign that the Yankees’ pitching coaches agree that he is heading in the right direction.
Joining him on the roster will be two players drafted by the Yankees in 2019 who climbed onto the MLB.com prospect rankings heading into the season. Ken Waldichuk recorded an incredible 49 strikeouts in just 29.1 innings during his professional debut with Rookie-Advanced Pulaski. Reports have Waldichuk picking up more velocity during the minor league hiatus and hitting as high as 98 mph with his fastball.
Alongside him this summer will be Hayden Wesneski, who is currently ranked as the Yankees’ 30th prospect according to MLB.com. Wesneski was a sixth-round pick of the Yankees in 2019, and like Waldichuk pitched for Rookie-Advanced Pulaski that year. In the past he has displayed an solid three-pitch mix that includes a plus fastball to go with a good slider and changeup. The Yankees’ decision to skip him over Low-A ball is an indication that they have seen some progress in his pitches early this spring.
Also likely working in Hudson Valley’s rotation is Josh Maciejewski, a tall lefty who impressed at four different levels of the Yankees system in 2019. He produced a 2.33 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP in 2019 across 73.1 innings pitched.
Joining that starting rotation are some power bullpen arms that have traits that the Yankees have found success with. Barrett Loseke, Mitch Spence, Justin Wilson, Zach Greene and Nelson Alvarez all have big fastballs and could move quickly if they develop their secondary offerings and control this coming year.
The Yankees have a gaggle of strong young arms in the system this coming year. There is plenty of potential beyond the most known prospects. Keep an eye out for the names listed above, as many of them have the raw tools to reach the major leagues and could be contributing to the Yankees within the next few years.