The Yankees' farm system is notoriously weak, and starting pitching depth is no exception. While there is certainly talent lurking in the low-minors, major league ready talent is hard to come by in the Yankees' system (Although Chase Whitley is proving to be a surprise). In a preview for the upcoming draft, I'll take a look at the Yankees' starting pitching depth in their farm system--an area they may look to improve upon very soon.
With Chase Whitley off the roster, the starting pitching at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is incredibly weak. The rotation is anchored by journeyman/veteran Brian Gordon who has currently pitched to the tune of a 4.94 ERA, a 40/23 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and has allowed 65 hits in 54.2 innings. Younger talent includes Shane Greene, who has struggled so far with a 4.56 ERA but has struck out about a batter per inning. It's important that he develops, because he's the most likely to get called up once again to aid the bullpen. The rotation is rounded out by newcomers (from Double-A) Matt Tracy and Joel De La Cruz, who have pitched to ERA's of 3.46 and 1.91, respectively, in only six starts between them. Chris Leroux could also be a factor, but he's currently on the 7-Day disabled list; he's only thrown 6.1 innings in Triple-A and two innings with the big league club.
The Trenton Thunder has a bit more talent in their rotation, one that is headlined by top prospect Manny Banuelos. The Yankees are taking their time with Banuelos, allowing him to start games but only letting him go about three innings per outing as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. In just 9.2 innings, he's pitched to a 5.59 ERA and 4.98 FIP (in Double-A) with a 5.59 BB/9. The sample is small, but it's clear it'll take time before he is back to his old self. The rotation also has prospect Bryan Mitchell, a player who was just featured on Carson Cistulli's Fringe Five piece. He was also kind enough to provide this wonderful GIF of his nasty, nasty curveball:
Mitchell has pitched 24.2 innings so far and has struck out 34 with a FIP of 1.78. If there's one guy to be excited about being called up, it's Mitchell. The Thunder have also gotten unspectacular starts from Jeremy Bleich, Graham Stoneburner, Caleb Cotham, and Eric Ruth, but I wouldn't expect them to do anything special--they'll probably just fill out the back-end of their rotation.
There's certainly talent for the Tampa Yankees, but not in the way of starting pitching; much of it is still developing in the level below them. The rotation was supposed to feature Jose Campos... until he tore his UCL and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. That will sideline him for at least a year, and for someone who has only a little bit more than 200 professional innings under his belt, who knows if he'll ever return to be a legitimate prospect. There is top prospect Rafael De Paula who has pitched to a 4.04 ERA and 2.89 FIP with 52 strikeouts in 42.1 innings thus far. He's certainly striking guys out, but he'll need to work on his control if he wants to move his way up the system as he's walked 23 so far. The rest of the rotation is rather unimpressive, featuring pitchers like Conner Kendrick, Chaz Hebert, Nick Goody (converted reliever), Brett Gerritse, Dan Camarena, and Eduardo Nunez's trade return--Miguel Sulburan. Of those, the only one showing promise is Camarena, who has pitched to a 2.36 ERA in ten starts with 42 strikeouts and 20 walks in 53.1 innings.
When I mentioned that there is talent in the low minors, I meant at Charleston. The RiverDogs have an incredibly strong rotation of 2013 first-round pick Ian Clarkin, Luis Severino, Caleb Smith, Brady Lail, and Rookie Davis. Clarkin has only started four games but is striking out about a batter per inning, and has only walked four in 19.2 innings. Severino is continuing to impress as he climbs up the ranks; he has pitched to a 1.76 ERA and 2.60 FIP with 43 strikeouts and nine walks in 41 innings. Smith is beginning to show his stuff, as he's only allowed six earned runs in 42.1 innings, while striking out 49 in 42.1 innings. Lail too is striking out a bunch--about a batter per inning--while pitching to a 3.14 ERA. Davis has not been that strong, but he's suitable to fill out the rotation. If there is a team to watch in terms of starting pitching, it is this one.
In terms of just sheer talent, there are a few pitchers in here who could develop into legitimate MLB starting pitchers. But these players--like Severino, Clarkin, and Lail--are years away from reaching their potential. The Yankees may look to find some higher-floor and lower-ceiling college pitchers in hopes to inject some talent into the system that is not only real, but can contribute to the upper-minors in a shorter time span. The depth is certainly weak, but a strong season from the aforementioned "top prospects" could turn the outlook of the system around.