Yankees Pitching Prospect Awards

Rather than merely hand out awards like the Pitcher of the Year and the like, we hand out various prospect superlative awards including, but not limited to; the "Phil Hughes Award" to the pitcher who best combined results with talent, the "Manny Banuelos Award" to the lower level pitching prospect who is much better than the national media realizes, etc, etc.

The Phil Hughes Award is more than just the Pitcher of the Year award, a distinction that normally only requires above average statistics. It's given to the pitching prospect who best combined actual game results with overall pitching talent, not to a pitcher who merely put up numbers.

For the second consecutive season this year's award goes to right-hander Luis Severino. He followed up his combined 2.45 ERA, 1.07 WHIP ratio season between the Gulf Coast League and South Atlantic League in 2013 with a combined 2.46 ERA and 1.06 WHIP ratio over three minor league levels in 2014, ascending all the way to Double-A. Just like he did a year ago too, he showed three plus pitches, including a fastball that reached 98 mph routinely, innate strike-throwing ability [he walked just 27 batters in 113.1 innings], and overall an advanced degree of pitch-ability. The consistency this 20-year old has shown stuff-wise and statistically in his career has been nothing short of remarkable.

The David Phelps Award [formerly known as the Zach McAllister award] is given to the pitching prospect who wasn't considered among the top few pitching prospects the year before but broke out in a big way the following season.

This year's award goes to right-hande reliever Nick Rumbelow. He posted a combined 5-2 record, notched eight saves, and a solid 2.62 ERA over four different minor league levels, ascending all the way to Triple-A after beginning the season in low-A Charleston. His 1.08 WHIP ratio was very impressive indeed, but not nearly as breathtaking as the 81 strikeouts he tallied in just 58.1 innings. Possessing two plus pitches already, he's gone from a back-end Top 50 prospect to not only one of the better pitching prospects in the organization but to the forefront of the short list of potential in-house big league options for the 2015 bullpen.

The Manny Banuelos Award is given to the pitching prospect in the short-season leagues who, despite showing a great combination of results and stuff, has flown under the national radar and is currently underrated.

This year's recipient is GCL Yankees' right-handed pitcher Domingo Acevedo. The results, while solid [4.11 ERA, 21 strikeouts in 15.1 innings], were a little skewed given the fact that he pitched sparingly after dealing with some dead arm issues coming out of Extended Spring Training. Standing 6-foot-7, he's a superb strike-thrower who already possesses two plus big league pitches with his fastball that can reach 99 mph and an outstanding changeup. The breaking ball shows plus potential too [although it isn't consistent yet] and mechanically he is very sound for a taller hurler. He is one of the best kept secrets at the lower minor league levels. Stuff-wise and control-wise he compares favorably to a young Jose Ramirez at similar stages in their careers.

The George Kontos Award is given to the pitching prospect who was drafted out of college and immediately showed a combination of stuff and results that same season.

It should come as a surprise to no one that this year's award goes to left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren. This year's second round pick [first overall for the Yankees] from Mississippi State University posted a combined 2.16 ERA over four different minor league levels, ascending all the way to Double-A in his debut season, and struck out a ridiculous 48 batters in just 25 innings. He also allowed just twelve hits all season. He has to fine-tune his command, which will be a little tough given just how much all of his pitches move, but his impact on the organization has been swift and immediate.

The Phil Coke Award is given to the perceived organizational pitcher whose stuff got dramatically better to put himself on the prospect map at an older age.

This year's award goes to right-handed reliever Cesar Vargas, another former starter turned reliever. It's not as if he didn't pop some 94s in previous seasons but this year he sat mostly in the 92-94 range and topped out at 96 mph after transitioning from the starting role to the bullpen. Both his breaking ball and changeup improved rather dramatically too from a movement standpoint. He went from organizational afterthought to potentially being a Rule 5 protected player this coming offseason in one short season after tallying a combined 2.58 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched over two A-ball levels in 2014.

The D.J. Mitchell Award is given to the pitcher who was a later-round pick but who also quickly showed some good stuff heading into his first full minor league season.

The year's award goes to 2014 18th round pick Justin Kamplain. The former University of Alabama southpaw pitched very well in his debut season this year, posting a combined 1.65 ERA between short-season Staten Island and low-A Charleston with a scintillating 0.89 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched, and his stuff gets underrated because of his smaller size [6-foot, 175 pounds]. The fact is he sits in the low-90s with a fastball that gets a lot of movement and boasts two above average secondary pitches that he can consistently throw for strikes. He might not be a long-term starter given his smaller stature but the combination of stuff and advanced level of pitch-ability could allow him to sneak up on folks in the coming years.


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