Baseball is weird. The Yankees are weird. Roster wrangling is weird. There are things that as a public we will never understand due to our lack of information. One of those vagaries involves the various promotions, demotions, or static states of minor league players. From Ron Marinaccio to Clarke Schmidt to Oswald Peraza, it’s impossible to know exactly what the Yankees are thinking. Today, and recently, I’ve considered another Triple-A player who has performed with flying colors and seems to be deserving of a major league opportunity. That player is the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders closer, Greg Weissert.
Last year, I mentioned Weissert among a trio of relievers in the Yankees organization who could be the next potential relief ace in the Bronx. I missed Marinaccio in this group, but I think the three picks all had validity to them. Unfortunately, Luis Gil underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this season, and Luis Medina was sent off to Oakland as one of the main pieces in the move for Frankie Montas. Weissert, however, remains in the Yankees’ system, pitching the best he has in his professional career against the best competition he has faced.
An 18th-round pick out of Fordham in the 2016 MLB Draft, Weissert has gradually ascended the ranks of the Yankees’ system, and he spent the final three months of his 2021 campaign with good results at Triple-A. His follow-up has been even better.
In 45.2 innings in 2022, Weissert has posted some incredible results. His K% is the highest it’s been in the upper levels at 37.2 percent (up 10.7 percentage points from last year), and he has also dropped his walk rate from 14.6 percent in Triple-A in 2021 to 10.6 percent this year. That’s all equated to a 1.77 ERA and 2.91 FIP. If you care about this sort of thing, he also has accumulated 18 saves as the primary closer in Scranton. In a home run-friendly environment, he has only given up three on the season and not one since mid-May.
Got him. Weissert strikes out the side to get us the W. pic.twitter.com/NdlBOy7Jqh— SWB RailRiders (@swbrailriders) June 4, 2022
As one can see, it’s pretty easy to make a performance-based case for Weissert to at least get appearances in the back of the Yankees ‘pen. The team reportedly even considered it ahead of the weekend series with Toronto. That doesn’t come without caveats of course. The Yankees bullpen is and has been loaded with talent. In much of June and July, there wasn’t much space for an additional arm, especially a 27-year-old who has yet to be added to the 40-man roster.
However, since the injuries of Clay Holmes, Michael King, Miguel Castro, Scott Effross … should I keep going? One questionable fill-in, Albert Abreu, is now on the IL himself. Another, 31-year-old journeyman Luke Bard, was only claimed from the Rays in early-August and is now with the MLB club in part because he already had the 40-man roster spot advantage over Weissert. There have been a few opportunities that have opened up for a reliever like Weissert to come in and help out, with more coming in September.
It’s tough to be too critical of the Yankees without having all the information needed to make a decision like this. By that I mean, if I had access to Weissert’s pitch data, I’d know for sure if there were any significant concerns in his transition into the big leagues. But that doesn’t mean we are not allowed to be at all critical.
There are a few reasons to justify the thought that the front office sometimes mishandles prospects/minor leaguers. Marinaccio was on a stretch of dominance before a bizarre demotion to Triple-A.* Schmidt has clearly been good enough to be in the majors full-time for the better part of a year. Lastly, the Yankees decided to not protect Garrett Whitlock in the Rule 5 Draft and lost him to the Red Sox prior to the start of the 2021 season. (The Trevor Stephan decision isn’t exactly looking good either.)
*Both Marinaccio and Schmidt have thankfully returned to the MLB club for now.
None of these are perfect one-to-one comparisons for Weissert, and none have affected the team’s long-term outlook, but perhaps it shows a minor flaw in one part of their decision making. With the roster expanding in September and Weissert due to be a minor league free agent in the offseason, their time is now to decide to add him to the 40-man and call him up or not. If not, then they might very well say goodbye to a great development story.