RHP, Jose Campos: Acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade, this Venezuelan hurler has had a bit of road back to full recovery after dealing with a strained elbow in 2012. He was on a strict innings limit last season and went just 4-2 but he posted a solid 3.41 ERA, allowed less hits than innings pitched, and struck out nearly eight batters per nine innings pitched.
He got a lot stronger as the year went on, however, posting a 2.09 ERA over his final thirteen appearances and posted a nine to one strikeout to walk ratio in the second half. He boasts an above average fastball that sits 91-94 mph and shows long-term plus potential, and above average secondary pitches that also show long-term plus potential. Throw in great control, above average command, and advanced pitch-ability, he could pitch in the front-half of a big league starting rotation someday.
LHP, Ian Clarkin: Last year's first round pick from Madison High School in California didn't have the greatest professional debut season after severely spraining his ankle right after signing and pitched just five innings in the Gulf Coast League. He also got sick during Instructs and that put him a little bit behind the curve too.
When he's healthy though he too boasts three above average to plus pitches, shows an advanced feel for pitching, and tremendous moxie on the mound. Standing 6-foot-2 with room to get stronger, there's a decent chance his current 91-94 mph fastball can get harder as he continues to grow, and both his curveball and changeup are already plus pitches. Staying healthy, as it is with most prospects, is really all that is needed long-term for him to realize his potential as a front-half big league starting pitcher.
RHP, Rookie Davis: This former 14th round pick out back in 2011 out of Dixon High School in North Carolina is beginning to tap some of his immense potential. Forget for a moment that he posted a combined 1.90 ERA between short-season Staten Island and low-A Charleston last season, he saw his slightly above average 90-93 mph fastball shift into the plus realm, sitting mostly in the 93-95 mph range last year.
He had already boasted an above average curveball that shows long-term plus potential and now has a changeup that has crept up into the above average vicinity too. He is a good strike-thrower with all of his pitches at just 20 years old and the pitch-ability, while not extremely advanced, has made marked improvements in his first two seasons. A little more development in that area of his game and this 6-foot-3, 235 workhorse could be a great innings eater in due time.
RHP, Rafael De Paula: It was a tale of two seasons for this Dominican native in his first full season in the United States last season. He mowed down batter after batter in the South Atlantic League in the first half last season, striking out 96 batters in a little more than 64 innings and held opposing batters to a pathetic .189 average, but he got hit around upon him promotion to high-A Tampa, posting a 6.06 ERA and having batters hit .289 against him.
He has swing and miss stuff, including a fastball that routinely tops out at 96-97 mph, and a breaking ball that shows long-term plus potential. However, the changeup is a work in progress and so is his overall command, especially with the fastball, and the breaking ball is a little too inconsistent. There's a lot of work to do going forward but there is still a significant ceiling as a potential front-half starting pitcher if he taps his real potential.
RHP, Gabe Encinas: We put Encinas in this category a year ago and some pundits might have considered it a bit premature given the fact that he came off of a 3-7, 4.97 ERA season with nearly as many strikeouts as walks for the Staten Island Yankees in 2012. The stuff though blossomed to the plus range, especially with his fastball, which began to sit in the 94-96 mph range.
His curveball and changeup also began to flash plus potential, and his overall pitch-ability greatly improved in short order. So much so in fact that he posted a tiny 0.77 ERA in his first seven starts for Charleston last year before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. He will need to prove he's fully back once he returns but it's hard to ignore his sky-high ceiling, one that began to take shape prior to the injury.
RHP, Ty Hensley: The 2012 first round pick could certainly fall into the 'jury is still out' category given the fact that he has pitched just a handful of games since his selection two years ago and he is coming off of hip surgery, but there's just too much ceiling here to put him anywhere else.
|PLUS PITCH-ABILITY: Lail has high pitching acumen to go with his now above average stuff. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
RHP, Brady Lail: Perhaps it's because he was an 18th round pick out of high school in Utah of all places back in 2012, or maybe it's because he has yet to hit 97 mph on the radar gun yet, but Lail gets lost in the discussion of highest ceiling pitchers in the farm system for some reason and he clearly shouldn't. Yeah his numbers in what was essentially his debut season last year were good, posting a 2.33 ERA and posting better than a ten to one strikeout ratio, but he is more than mere numbers.
The 20-year old -- and he will pitch the majority of the 2014 season as a 20-year old -- shows incredible pitch-ability at such a young age and it's not like he doesn't have stuff either. He'll sit mostly in the 91-93 mph range, but at 6-foot-2 and with plenty of room to get stronger, as well as nearly flawless pitching mechanics as they get at the rookie levels, there's some serious potential for him to throw harder down the road. Throw in an above average curveball-chagneup combination and an ability to pound the zone with command, he has a huge ceiling of his own.
LHP, Omar Luis: This Cuban defector initially signed for $4 million before having his bonus reduced for issues with his physical and stuff-wise anyone can see why. He shows three plus pitches across the board, including a 91-95 mph fastball with late life and a hard breaking ball.
But because of his near two-year layoff from baseball after his exodus from Cuba he has shown some real rust with his strike-throwing ability. And now that he is Rule 5 Draft eligible every year going forward is going to be problematic in his development akin to Andrew Brackman's 40-man roster designation a few years ago, but it's still hard to overlook just how high a ceiling this southpaw possesses.
RHP, Bryan Mitchell: When it comes to pure stuff, delivery, and makeup, there arguably isn't a higher ceiling pitcher in the entire Yankee organization and that's perhaps including guys already pitching at the big league level. This 16th round pick back in 2009 sits in the 96-98 mph range with a heavy four-seam fastball, has arguably the best curveball in the farm system, a solid big league changeup, and a brand new cutter that sits 92-93 mph and shows long-term plus potential.
As physically gifted as they come, it's been his overall pitch-ability that has lagged behind the electric stuff and it's why his minor league numbers to date have been pedestrian at best. However, Ivan Nova was very similar coming up through the minor leagues pitch-ability-wise and he made the long-term adjustment, and Mitchell has much, much better stuff at similar stages in their careers. Should Mitchell make the same adjustments to his pitch-ability, he has 'ace' type potential.
RHP, Luis Severino: Imagine a pitcher with Mitchell-like stuff but with better strike-throwing ability and more advanced pitch-ability, and that's what have you with Severino. This Dominican native not only sits 93-95 mph and consistently tops out at 97 mph each game, but he already has a plus big league changeup and a plus slider to go along with it.
But more than the pure stuff it's his calm demeanor on the mound, his ability to pound the strike zone and consistently get ahead of batters, and his unflappable nature that are purely palpable when he toes the rubber -- and he hasn't even turned 20 years old yet. He just needs to stay healthy going forward because the fact that has no real weaknesses in his game is just yet another plus.
Closest to the Majors
LHP, Manny Banuelos: Despite the fact that this Mexican southpaw did not pitch an official minor league inning in 2013 and missed a majority of the 2012 season before succumbing to Tommy John surgery, he is still one of the pitchers closest to the Majors. Yeah he'll still need to go through the minor league rehab track back up to Triple-A again, but barring a setback, stuff-wise, pitch-ability-wise, and makeup-wise he is already a big leaguer in a lot of ways -- in fact he pitched like a big leaguer before he stepped foot in Triple-A nearly three years ago.
RHP, Shane Greene: For years we tabbed this former 15th round pick back in 2009 as one of the biggest 'sleepers' in the farm system because his less than stellar numbers never really lined up with his plus stuff and he finally proved it in 2013, posting a combined 3.38 ERA between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, and dramatically cutting down on his walks. Now a member of the 40-man roster, he has quickly become a viable in-house starting option for the Yankees.
RHP, Jose Ramirez: Ramirez has been one of the highest ceiling pitchers in the farm system for some time and he has finally reached the upper minor league levels, posting a combined 3.67 ERA, allowing less hits than innings pitched, and striking out better than a batter per inning pitched between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton last season. He dealt with some nagging injuries though that limited him to just 17 games so he'll need a bit more seasoning in Triple-A before he's big league ready, but he could be a real option for the Bombers at some point in 2014.
LHP, Nik Turley: Like Greene we had Turley listed among the 'sleepers' for many years but for a different reason -- Greene had plus stuff but no numbers to back it up and Turley, who did have numbers consistently throughout his career, had/has better stuff than most folks realize. He isn't one of the highest ceiling pitchers in the farm system, but with 90-94 mph fastball, an above curveball and above average changeup, and solid pitch-ability, he is solid across the board. Throw in a solid year at Double-A last season, he is closing in on being big league ready.