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Yankees 2022 Season Preview: The Rookie Pitchers

2017 draft picks Clarke Schmidt, JP Sears, and Ron Marinaccio are all rookie arms who will be on the Yankees’ Opening Day roster.

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Yankees have finalized their final roster for Opening Day, and it looks a lot different than last year’s squad — especially in the bullpen. Clarke Schmidt, JP Sears, and Ron Marinaccio are names that will be jogging out from the bullpen in 2022. Let’s learn a little bit about them!

Clarke Schmidt

2021 MiLB Stats: 10 games, 38.0 IP, 2.37 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 10.90 K/9, 2.80 BB/9, 1.40 HR/9

2022 ZiPS Projections: 16 games, 59.7 IP, 4.83 ERA, 4.91 FIP, 1.47 WHIP, 7.99 K/9, 4.07 BB/9, 1.36 HR/9

This is the name you may be most familiar with out of the three, as Schmidt was drafted by the Yankees in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft. He has appeared in the majors before, throwing 6.1 innings in both 2020 and 2021, but missed the large majority of last season after injuring the extensor tendon in his elbow in spring training.

Schmidt is the team’s seventh-best prospect, according to MLB.com, and the second-best pitcher in the farm system. He has an arsenal of five pitches: curveball, sinker, four-seam fastball, slider, and a changeup. He averaged 93 mph on his heater in his limited action last season, but has touched around 97 mph in the past.

He has a history of throwing strikes, but if he wants to make an impact in the majors as a starter, he needs to refine his command a bit. He tossed 9.1 frames during this spring, which was tied for the most on the team. He struck out 11 batters and opponents hit .182 against him. Schmidt could be a long reliever to start the season, and they’ll see how he progresses from there.

JP Sears

2021 MiLB Stats: 25 games, 104.0 IP, 3.46 ERA, 1.106 WHIP, 11.80 K/9, 2.50 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9

2022 ZiPS Projections: 23 games, 87.3 IP, 4.74 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 1.36 WHIP, 8.76 K/9, 3.30 BB/9, 1.55 HR/9

The 26-year-old left hander was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 11th round of the 2017 MLB Draft before being dealt to the Yankees a few months later that same year. He started his 2021 season in Double-A with the Somerset Patriots, and was then promoted to Triple-A to pitch for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

He stands just below six feet tall, but uses that to his advantage with his low arm slot that tricks the eyes of opponents as if he’s throwing the ball uphill — this creates a lot of action riding up in the zone. Sears isn’t a top prospect in the organization, but can bring a lot to the team. He makes his mark with his deceptive delivery, even though his changeup and slider are looked upon as average and he doesn’t have a ton of velocity on his pitches, averaging around 90-93 mph.

Sears did not have an impressive spring training, however. He threw 6.2 innings, allowing 12 hits and six runs, but did have eight strikeouts. Results aren’t the be-all and end-all in the spring, which means the Yankees see more than the poor numbers when looking at Sears. Confusing hitters seems to be his specialty — if he can do that at a consistent rate, he’ll be fine. If he can’t, well, he could be in trouble.

Ron Marinaccio

2021 MiLB Stats: 40 games, 66.1 IP, 2.04 ERA, .935 WHIP, 14.2 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.50 HR/9

2022 ZiPS Projections: 37 games, 55.7 IP, 4.37 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 1.40 WHIP, 10.35 K/9, 4.69 BB/9, 1.29 HR/9

The 26-year-old from Toms River, New Jersey was taken in the 19th round by the Yankees in the 2017 MLB Draft, thus making all the rookie pitchers highlighted in this season preview from the same draft class. Marinaccio grew up a Yankees fan, and has old pictures of himself sitting in the bleacher creatures when he was younger. We’ve seen it with a bunch of other players and how excited they are to play for not only the New York Yankees, but their hometown team.

Before the pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 MiLB season, his fastball sat around 90 mph. He took that time off to work on his velocity and now sits at 94-97 mph, with rising motion. He, like Sears, has a low arm slot when throwing for an added layer to his game. His best pitch is his changeup, which clocks in around the mid-80s, and dips right before the plate. He also has a slider at his disposal.

This spring, Marinaccio pitched in 5.2 innings, striking out six and allowing four hits. He surrendered five runs, but all of them were unearned. The relief pitcher will most likely slot in during low leverage situations to start, but could make a bigger impact with his lively fastball.