Chasen Shreve was one of several relievers to join the Yankees this off-season, coming over along with righty David Carpenter in the Manny Banuelos trade. The 24-year-old lefty was an 11th round draft pick in 2010 out of the College of Southern Nevada, where he was caught by future Nationals star Bryce Harper. Braves scouts felt confident about drafting Shreve even though he had a seemingly shaky 5.57 ERA in his final year of college and Baseball America noted some arm injuries. There was potential in him, and Atlanta capitalized by moving him to the bullpen. Through his first few years in the Braves' farm system, Shreve was steady, albeit without much development in his pitching repertoire. That changed last season.
Shreve's fastball previously sat in the mid-to-high 80s until 2014. Then he added velocity by "simply trying to throw harder," as John Sickels noted in this post at Minor League Ball. The pitched was amped up to the low-to-mid 90s instead, and oddly, his control improved rather than escaping him. Shreve throws a slider and changeup/splitter as well, and both also saw improvements with his more aggressive approach. His pitches missed bats and even his secondary pitches were clocked in the 80s. The slider in particular turned into a nice out pitch. Baseball works in mysterious ways.
Mississippi/Gwinnett (AA/AAA): 46 G, 63 2/3 IP, 2.69 ERA, 1.86 FIP, 12.2 K/9, 1.7 BB/9
Atlanta: 15 G, 12 1/3 IP, 0.73 ERA, 1.43 FIP, 11.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9
The change in pitching style led to higher strikeout rates that Shreve hadn't achieved since college. He fanned 76 men in 54 1/3 innings with Double-A Mississippi, impressing the organization enough with his strides in command to earn a call-up straight to the big leagues on July 19th. After five fine games though, he was sent back to the minors when the Braves made some moves at the trade deadline, and Shreve spent the month of August with their Triple-A affiliate. He returned to the big club in September and finished off a terrific season with 15 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings in the majors, offering a glimpse at a promising future out of the bullpen. It's not difficult these days to find lefties who can strike out Ryan Howard as Shreve does in the GIF above, but finding lefties whose velocity can regularly linger in the 90s? That's a weapon.
The Yankees' bullpen is well-stocked right now with a number of strong arms, particularly from the left side. Whereas last year, most of the lefty appearances out of the 'pen came from Matt Thornton (whom the Yankees deemed expendable in August when the Nationals claimed him off waivers) and David Huff (cool story, 2014), the Yankees have Andrew Miller, Justin Wilson, and Shreve, not to mention non-roster invitee prospects Jacob Lindgren and Tyler Webb. Of the group, only Miller and Wilson are assured spots on the major league roster, but while Shreve would be a third lefty, that doesn't mean he would be a bad idea. He shouldn't be pigeonholed into a LOOGY role yet since he actually fared a little better against righties than lefties in 2014 (.596 OPS vs. .630).
That being said, Shreve might only make the Opening Day roster if there's an injury of some kind. The bullpen is only going to be so large, and with five spots currently locked up by Dellin Betances, Miller, Carpenter, Wilson, and Adam Warren in some capacity, that doesn't leave much room, especially since the team seems to like Esmil Rogers. It won't be the end of the world if Shreve spends a little time in Triple-A Scranton, but he's big-league ready right now. Whenever the Yankees call on him, he will be ready, and if last year is any indication, he will certainly be able.