Scouting Yankees Prospect #20: Brady Lail

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Brady Lail in the 18th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Bingham High School in Utah. One of the steadier performs since that time, while he offers a significant ceiling of his own it is the advanced pitch-ability in his game that allows him to stand out as one of the safer bets in the farm system.

[Photo by Mark Lomoglio

Vital Statistics:
Name: Brady Lail
Position: Pitcher
DOB: August 9, 1993
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He went a combined 11-5 with a 3.62 ERA and 116 strikeouts between low-A Charleston and high-A Tampa in his first taste of the long-season leagues last year, finishing in the top five in all three categories in the farm system.

"Last year, I thought it was great," Lail said. "I was able to stay healthy the whole year, learn a lot, and build on something for next year."

Not blessed with the mid-90s heater some guys are equipped with, Lail has changed his game considerably since his selection nearly three years ago. Once primarily a pitcher who relied on commanding his low-90s four-seam fastball and mixing in a great curveball, he has reinvented himself on the mound in relatively quick fashion.

He learned the value of getting quicker outs and pitching deeper into games, and with that came a whole new approach on the mound.

"I’m not a hard throwing pitcher so it’s more about outsmarting them,” he said. “Although, it’s really more about executing pitches. My focus is to save my arm and get them out as fast as I possibly can. That’s gonna come with forcing ground outs and maybe a few strikeouts here and there.

"In 2012 [when I was drafted], I was a big fastball-curveball guy, I never had a changeup or even a sinker. Now I’ve developed a fastball I can command pretty well, a sinker that’s become one of my better pitches and a cutter recently, which helps out a lot. The sinker/changeup has become my best pitch [last] year. It’s helped me out a ton."

While the pitch-ability was always present, the fact is he's become less of a thrower and more of a pitcher during his time with the Yankees, and it has allowed him to become one of the steadier performers in the entire farm system.

"Obviously in Charleston he did a great job," then Tampa pitching coach Danny Borrell said. "When he got [to Tampa], just like anyone else, he was trying too much. Probably pressing a bit too hard. Just elevated some pitches.

"I don’t care who you are, if you elevate some baseball’s you’re going to get hits against you.”

But as Lail is prone to do, he made the adjustment. He initially struggled after getting promoted from low-A Charleston to Tampa, surrendering twelve earned runs in his first three starts for the Tampa Yankees. However, he allowed just two earned runs over his final four starts.

"We’re talking about a kid that can throw four different pitches for strikes," Borrell added. "His execution is excellent."

That perhaps is the best attribute a pitcher can have. While his whole arsenal doesn't necessarily grade out as 'plus', the sum is greater than his parts and that's what has the Yankees excited about his long-term potential.

"Introducing him to the cutter last year is going to pay big dividends for him," Yankee pitching coordinator Gil Patterson said. "You don't teach the cutter to every person. You kind of teach it on a need to basis.

"It's not fair to compare somebody to Mike Mussina but he's in the same mold; he throws strikes, intelligence, mental discipline, mental toughness, everything 'Moose' brought he brings. Now with the four-pitch mix -- fastball, curveball, cutter, and change -- he's a pitcher."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2014

Tampa

3-1

0

37.1

30

9

21

3.38

2014

Charleston

8-4

0

97.0

106

17

95

3.71

2013

Tampa

1-0

0

7.2

14

3

5

7.04

2013

GCL Yankees1

4-1

0

54.0

39

5

51

2.33

2012

GCL Yankees

1-0

0

12.2

8

2

10

1.42



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Cutter.

Fastball. Lail has changed so much over the years and is starts with his fastball. Once predominantly throwing four-seam fastballs in the 91-94 mph range, he's done nearly a complete 180 degree turnaround and now throws mostly sinking two-seamers in the 90-93 mph range. He still throws both fastballs and he has impeccable command of both, but it's his sinker that gets excellent late life and downward movement, and he can paint the zone with it. It serves as both a contact out-pitch and he can also get a lot of swings and misses with it as hitters tend to swing over it. Still very young [he is still 21 years old], there's even the chance he could add a tick or two to his velocity in the coming years as he continues to get stronger.

Other Pitches. His main secondary pitch used to be his power knuckle-curveball, a pitch that he still uses and grades out as above average, borderline plus. It sits mostly 77-81 mph and shows both good late-biting downward action and some sweep to it too. However, his main secondary pitch has become his rapidly developing changeup. It dives down just like his sinking fastball, he commands it impeccably well, and it will range anywhere from 83-85 mph. It's a true plus pitch, one that he will go to in strikeout situations against both left-handers and righties. He has somewhat recently added a cutter too, one that averages 87-90 mph. It's not yet a plus pitch but he can throw it for strikes consistently, and it's yet another weapon to keep lefties honest on the inner-half of the plate. It too is an above average pitch.

Pitching. This section could aptly be named after Lail as "pitching" is his biggest strength. Despite his youth, he pitches well beyond his years, not just mixing in four pitches that all grade out as above average or better but commanding them in the strike zone. It's his stellar command of those four pitches that leaves hitters guessing and because he is supremely confident throwing any one of them in any count he is always ready to throw the next pitch; batters aren't allowed to get comfortable against him as a result because the tempo is upbeat and the approach is bulldog in nature. While his stuff and game are built for contact he does have swing and miss stuff too should he get his opposing batters to two strikes. Extremely intelligent though, he's not up there to put up strikeout numbers, he's up there to put batters away as quickly as possible. He is all business on the mound.

Projection. Possessing one of the more fluid deliveries around, above average command of four above average big league pitches, and off the charts mental makeup, Lail offers one of the safer projections as a future middle to back-end big league starting pitcher someday, one that could be one of the more efficient innings eaters around. The combination of movement and command with all of his pitches is special enough, however, that there are days and even stretches where he may pitch above the level his stuff says he should. Throw in the very realistic possibility he could add a tick or two to an already above average fastball, there could be an even higher ceiling developing too if things break right.

ETA. 2016. Lail tackled two levels in 2014 and is very much equipped to do the same in 2015. One more full minor league season might be all that's needed before he's big league ready but the safer bet has him ready for the Bronx by mid-season next year.


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