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Yankees Prospect Profile: Brady Lail

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Can Brady Lail be an asset the Yankees rotation down the road?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees selected Brady Lail in the 18th round out of high school in 2012. Lail quickly distinguished himself from the glut of other 18th rounders when he turned in a 2.33 ERA in the Gulf Coast League in his first full year as a pro.

Lail made the jump to full-season ball in 2014, and fared very well in the Sally League. He pitched to a sparkling 2.99 FIP in 18 starts with Low-A Charleston, which was enough to earn him a mid-July promotion to High-A Tampa. Lail held his own in Tampa, but saw his strikeout rate plummet from 24% to 16% and walk rate creep up (4% to 6%) following the promotion.

KATOH, my prospect projection system, is mildly optimistic about Lail's future, projecting him for 2.8 WAR through age 28. Although he managed an impressive 3.20 FIP as a 20-year-old in A-ball, KATOH's not sold that he'll be able to keep up the pace as he climbs the minor league ladder. The reason? Lail didn't miss many bats. Lail's more of a control guy, who's performance was mostly driven by a low walk rate. Limiting your walks is obviously a good thing, but a pitcher's strikeout rate is more predictive of future success. Here's a look at Lail's odds of reaching certain WAR thresholds through age 28. You'll notice that the odds of him accumulating more than a few WAR are very slim.

Lail

Lail's stuff isn't overwhelming, which likely explains his low strikeout numbers. Nonetheless, he has a very deep arsenal for a 21-year-old, and his ability to command and mix those pitches been enough to fool A-Ball hitters. Long term, Lail's upside probably looks a lot like Chase Whitley or David Phelps: A guy with three or four average-ish pitches, but none that are decidedly better than average. Put differently, his arsenal lends itself to starting moreso than relieving, but isn't quite good enough to make him a good starter. Lail has a decent chance of becoming a usable back-end or swing man, but is unlikely to be anything more than that. He's a low ceiling prospect, and is still at least a couple of years away from having any impact whatsoever.