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Yankees prospect Will Warren is trending towards MLB consideration

He might not have ace potential, but Will Warren is getting close to a promotion and is a quality pitching prospect.

MLB: AUG 14 Yankees at Braves Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Yankees have called up Everson Pereira, Oswald Peraza, Jasson Domínguez and Austin Wells in recent days/weeks. The results have been good so far: they have won six of their last seven, including a sweep of the Astros this past weekend.

While the Yankees can’t guarantee him a rotation spot in what is left of the 2023 campaign for reasons that we will explain in a bit, right-hander Will Warren is trending towards making his MLB debut at some point in September. He could potentially be the next Yankees prospect to get his feet wet in the majors even though there isn’t a clear role or spot for him at the moment. He has spent some time in the high minors now, and his recent results in Triple-A have been positive.

Warren, a 2021 draftee (eighth round) threw 123.1 Double-A innings between 2022 and 2023: he had a 4.02 ERA in 94 frames there last year, but made adjustments and improved that to a 2.45 ERA in 29.1 innings this season with a much better 32.2 percent strikeout rate (it was 20.6 percent in 2022 at the mentioned level). Given his success in Somerset, the Yankees tested his abilities and resolve by bringing him up to Scranton. There, he has a 4.44 ERA in 77 frames, with a 23.5 percent strikeout rate and an 11.2 percent walk rate. His FIP, 5.71, is elevated because he has given up a lot of home runs with the RailRiders: he boasts a 1.75 HR/9 (homers per nine innings).

There are several things to keep in mind here, though. The International League, where the RailRiders play, is a notoriously hitter-friendly circuit where the collective ERA was 5.23 before Monday’s games. In addition to that, Warren has a 3.00 ERA in his last six outings, covering 33 innings. Over that span, he has a 24.5 percent strikeout rate and an 8.6 percent walk rate, but the homers are still high (1.91 HR/9).

Still, you can see how he has quietly improved his Triple-A stats since the start of August. Evidently, he has shown the ability to make adjustments as needed, and while he doesn’t have ace stuff, the ceiling is there to be a solid innings eater in MLB. Those have more value than you think.

Despite not having a true arm-side weapon (his changeup is more average than good), Warren has the ability to change the shape of his breaking ball so he essentially has a slider and a sweeper. He can get swings and misses with both. His fastball tops out in the 96-97 range and he is a good contact manager.

He could be an effective fourth or fifth starter in the majors as it is, but if he can refine his control and command and further develop his changeup (or a splitter type) to neutralize lefties, he could be a solid number two or three. Those are big “ifs,” though.

Now, the Yankees won’t take starts away from Gerrit Cole, especially when he is trying to win his first career Cy Young Award. They would love it if Carlos Rodón started resembling the pitcher he was in 2021 and 2022 so he will, obviously, stay in the rotation as well.

Keeping Clarke Schmidt healthy, with a clear role and motivated (and building that innings tally up, too) are also team priorities. The Yankees will also give Luis Severino a chance to show he can gain some consistency as he heads to free agency, and they want to see if Michael King can make it as a starter. In case of injury, it’s easier to plug Jhonny Brito or Randy Vásquez in the rotation because they are on the 40-man roster. Warren isn’t.

If the opportunity ever presents itself, however, don’t rule out the chance of Warren making a start or two with the Yankees this year. It would be a nice way to recognize the strides he has made and see how his stuff plays out against major leaguers. It may not seem like it at the moment, but Warren actually has a chance of being an important factor in 2024, whether it is by making starts with the big league club or by being used as a trade piece.