After an up-and-down run as a setup guy at LSU, the Yankees selected Nick Rumbelow in the 7th round in 2013 with the hope that he'd be able to work through his command issues and capitalize on his plus stuff. Rumbelow joined the Staten Island Yankees once he finished up at LSU, and something seemed to click for the 21-year-old -- he sliced his BB/9 from 4.1 at LSU to 2.0 in the New York Penn League.
Rumbelow's new-found command carried over into the 2014 season. He posted an uncharacteristically respectable 8% walk rate, which enabled him to rocket through the Yankees minor league system. The 22-year-old mowed down hitters at four different levels. He started the year with Low-A Charleston and worked his way up to Triple-A Scranton, posting gaudy strikeout numbers at every stop along the way.
KATOH, my prospect projection system, really likes what Rumbelow did last season. It forecasts a respectable 2.9 WAR through age 28, which is good for the 174th highest projection among players with at least 200 plate appearances or batters faced last year. Rumbelow's solid projection is mostly driven by his sky-high 34% strikeout rate from last year, but is also helped by the fact that he yielded just two homers in 58 innings of work. Here's a look at Rumbelow's odds of reaching certain WAR thresholds through age 28:
There's no denying that Rumbelow has the upside of a dominant late-inning reliever, especially now that he's more or less exorcised the control problems that plagued him in his college days. His fastball sits in the mid 90's, and he pairs it with decent-enough breaking pitches, but his command is still holding him back. Although it's come a long way since his LSU, it still isn't great. Rumbelow should open the year in Scranton's bullpen, but will almost certainly make his big league debut at some point in 2015. As a reliever, his upside is somewhat limited, but he has more than enough stuff to be able to get both lefties and righties out.