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Ron Marinaccio graduates with a clear role on the Yankees in his sights

Ron Marinaccio flew under the radar for most of his time in the Yankee system, but has emerged as a player who can make an impact at the major league level.

Chicago Cubs v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

In recent weeks, Yankees reliever Ron Marinaccio passed the threshold for service time to exhaust his prospect status, and this will officially be his rookie year. That Marinaccio hit this requirement as a prospect of note is a story in itself, as he was not highly regarded when the Yankees first selected him in the MLB draft. He was not on any prospect rankings as recently as the lost 2020 minor league season as he debuted at the Double-A level.

That all changed once evaluators got their first looks of the 2021 season at a much-improved Marinaccio, who has continued to develop and earn his spot on the major league roster. Upon his graduation, let’s take a look at Marinaccio’s path through the Yankee system and where he has established himself for the long term on the Yankees.

After a solid career at the University of Delaware, the Yankees selected Ron Marinaccio in the 19th round of the 2017 MLB draft. At the time, he was not considered one of the top-500 draft prospects by Baseball America, and his selection garnered little fanfare. His initial assignment to the Gulf Coast League also indicated that the Yankees believed there was a lot of work to do for the 21-year-old pitching prospect.

After just a short debut in the complex league, Marinaccio came back in 2018 with the Rookie-Advance Pulaski Yankees and Low-A Staten Island Yankees, but still did not jump off the page based on his results. In 34 innings of work, he did not necessarily look like a future major leaguer, giving up over a hit per inning and posting a 5.56 ERA on the season.

Another tough year in Charleston followed, as he worked out of the bullpen behind some of the bigger pitching names in the system that year. What did start to come to the attention of scouts and evaluators was that Marinaccio had a very good changeup, and the pitch had potential to play at a higher level if he could improve his command and control.

After the lost 2020 season, it was hard to predict where many of the Yankees’ prospects would land to start 2021. It was a bit of a surprise when Marinaccio skipped completely over High-A to land at the Double-A level. The work he had put in the behind the scenes led to a significant four tick velocity spike for his four-seam fastball. The newfound velocity also made the already good changeup even more effective.

He paired this work with an improving slider that started to gain attention, but was still not considered the equal of his changeup. The three-pitch mix would help him strikeout 105 batters in 66.1 innings of relief work at both Double-A and Triple-A on the season. Those impressive numbers at the higher levels helped him earn buzz around the game and become one of the Yankees’ top-30 prospects.

The Yankees also saw his value, and added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. This was a rapid ascension for a relief pitching prospect who posted a 4.18 ERA with 5 BB/9 in 2019.

Marinaccio did not stop with just a 40-man roster spot, as he then broke camp with the Yankees and stuck with the team through much of April. It was not always pretty, as he struggled in his first run with the team, only seeing limited and irregular action.

A couple weeks in Scranton saw him strike out 15 batters in just 6.2 innings pitched and find the form that made him so effective in 2021. When he came back up with the Yankees, he was a different pitcher. So far, he has only pitched in 13 games and 16 innings of work, but the total package of his nasty three-pitch mix is earning him a place in Aaron Boone’s bullpen. His strong recent results have made it easy to envision Marinaccio as an effective late-inning reliever for years to come. Four of his last five outings have come in one-run games.

Ron Marinaccio has come from under-the-radar to be a player that appears to have a solid future in the Yankees bullpen. He worked through his struggles at the lower levels of the minors and came back from the cancelled 2020 season as a much better pitcher. Known for his changeup coming through the system, he now has three impressive pitches to attack hitters with. He was only briefly even considered a prospect worthy of making the various top Yankees prospects list, but now has a chance to be the top rookie on the best team in baseball.