It was a banner year down on the farm system for the Yankees as they had no shortage of pitching prospects emerge into viable potential long-term solutions. The Yankees were noted for having more position prospects than pitchers entering the 2014 campaign but, aside from the already aforementioned names, the emergence of the likes of Cale Coshow, Chaz Hebert, Joey Maher, Jonathan Holder, and Kyle Haynes, among others, and the successful return from injury by the likes of Jose Campos, Gabe Encinas, Dietrich Enns, Giovanny Gallegos, or Conor Mullee among others, or even the uptick of guys transitioning to the bullpen like Luis Niebla or Evan Rutckyj, the greater depth of prospects for the Yankees is now beginning to shift back to the pitching side of things.
With another wave of young pitching prospects on the precipice of breaking out, perhaps as soon as 2016, it seems inevitable that the Yankee farm system strength will soon be back on the mound. Here are several pitching prospects who may not be Top 50 material just yet but very well may be in the not so distant future, and some of them are equipped to be real impact hurlers.
RHP, Daniel Alvarez: This 6-foot-2, 190-pound Venezuelan native has all the earmarks of a high pitch-ability arm; good strike-thrower, solid average big league fastball, and a potentially plus curveball that he can locate extremely well at a young age. While the fastball averages just 88-92 mph right now, he gets great deception with it as batters offer at it like it's coming in a lot harder. And considering he just turned 19 years old late this past summer there's also the potential to add more power as he gets older.
RHP, Luis Cedeno: Older than Alvarez and certainly smaller, this 5-foot-11 Venezuelan native does have similar pitch-ability. He too can throw a lot of strikes even though his uncharacteristic 43 walks in 112 combined innings this season between Staten Island and Charleston might suggest otherwise. He does shy away from pitching to contact a little too much and the breaking ball needs a bit more work, and his velocity does tick more average on most nights, but he did top out at 95 mph this past season, suggesting more power is in the tank, and the changeup is quality. He might not have the ceiling some of the other names on this list have but he does have the potential to have a complete starting package to slide in at the end of a big league rotation someday if he continues to progress.
LHP, Caleb Frare: The former 11th round pick back in 2012 missed the prior two seasons with an array of injuries, including Tommy John surgery, but really started to tap his potential in what essentially was his debut season this year. Forget for a moment that he posted a combined 2.91 ERA and struck out 58 batters in 55.2 innings at two A-ball levels, the fact that he was sitting 92-94 mph and topping out at 96 mph nearly all season long in his first full season is a huge deal. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in 2015 as a designed plan to limit his innings and it remains to be seen if he can sustain that kind of power as a starter, and there is work to be done on improving his curveball, but it is clearly evident that he is beginning to emerge as one of the better pitching prospects.
RHP, Rony Garcia: Signed just this year out of the Dominican, Garcia is quickly turning heads with his combination of loose delivery, ability to throw strikes, and potential power arm. In fact, it's his effortless but powerful arm that has conjured up some early comparisons to former pitching prospect Jose Ramirez at a similar stage in their careers. He doesn't have quite the same changeup as Ramirez possessed but the breaking ball is also much further along than Ramirez's was at the same point. He seems poised to potentially make his professional debut in the United States next season.
RHP, Anyelo Gomez: On the subject of advanced strike-throwers, this Dominican native had a solid U.S. debut season in 2015 when he was healthy enough to pitch. He posted a combined 2.41 ERA over three minor league levels and struck out 22 batters in 18.2 innings. He boasts a mid-90s fastball and an above average or better curveball, and could have poised to break out this past season had it not been for the health issues. He could really burst on to the scene in 2016 though if he can just stay on the mound.
RHP, Juan Jimenez: This Dominican native is nearly a carbon copy of Gomez in that he too is armed with a mid-90s fastball and can fill up the zone with a ton of strikes, and like Gomez he has battled nagging injuries that has prevented him from putting together a full season. His slider and changeup are both big league average pitches too, and the fastball topped out at 97 mph in Pulaski this season. Ideally the Yankees would love to get him into the rotation if for no other reason than to allow him more time to further develop his secondary pitches but staying healthy will be a key component going forward. The upside is huge even with the health concerns.
RHP, Rafael Lara: This smallish Dominican native had a solid professional debut season in 2015, posting a combined 4.34 ERA between the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League with 55 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. What he lacks in size -- he stands just 5-foot-11 -- he more than makes up with plus velocity. He'll sit in the 91-94 mph range and tops out at 97 mph already, and considering he just turned 20 this season there's the potential to perhaps improve on his velocity as he continues to mature. Throw in an above average curveball and a changeup with splitting action, he seems poised to make some noise going forward with his extremely quick arm action.
RHP, Dallas Martinez: It was just two years ago that he was once one of the truly promising pitching prospects down on the farm for the Yankees but fell victim to shoulder surgery and missed the entire 2014 campaign. He returned in 2015 and had a solid season, posting a 3.43 ERA in the Gulf Coast League with 18 strikeouts in 21 innings. While his velocity dipped upon his initial return it did get better as the season wore on, going from the mid-80s back up to 95 mph at one point. With a quality curveball and changeup too, and innate strike-throwing ability, he could be poised to make a full return to pre-surgery form in 2016 and that could be huge news for the Yankees.
RHP, Luis Medina: This year's top International signing is probably the furthest from emerging in this group just yet but he may also have one of the highest ceilings too. He has a truly electric arm, already topping out at 100 mph as a 16-year old kid. The command isn't great and the secondary pitches all need work too, enough that he may very well find himself debuting in the Dominican Summer League next year. However, it's his special arm, body, and makeup that has a lot of team officials believing he may emerge sooner than most think. Keep an eye on his progress because the ceiling is enormous.
RHP, Jose Mesa Jr.: Patience has really paid off for the Yankees and this former 24th round pick back in 2012. The son of former big league closer Jose Mesa entered the system with a pedestrian-like 89-92 mph fastball and just okay secondary pitches and now he's blossomed into a more complete pitcher, one with two average or better big league secondary pitches and a fastball that began averaging 93-95 mph in 2015. That velocity was coming out of the bullpen, however, and there will be a real temptation to move the now 22-year old into the rotation given his complete arsenal. Whether that happens or not, he is emerging into one of the legit pitching prospects down on the farm.
RHP, Garrett Mundell: Anytime somebody goes through their professional debut season without giving up an earned run like this year's 24th round pick did they have to be taken seriously. What's more miraculous is that he posted his 0.00 ERA in 26 combined innings between Pulaski and Charleston mostly using his 91-93 mph fastball. He shows the makings of a good breaking ball and a nice splitter too but he didn't go to them very often in his debut season. Standing 6-foot-6, there's some potentially untapped power with his fastball too. He's not quite there yet but he is quickly emerging into a legit big league prospect.
RHP, Isaac Padilla: This 19-year old Dominican native seems ready to make a name for himself States-side very soon. He hasn't put up the eye-popping numbers yet in his first two Dominican Summer League seasons but yet the stuff has progressed to almost above average levels across the board. He has a fastball that will average 93-95 mph some days and top out at 97 mph, he has a potentially plus curveball, and has an advanced feel for a changeup. Considering he stands 6-foot-5 already and is still a teenager there is also a lot of ceiling left in the tank.
RHP, David Palladino: Just like with Mesa, patience is really starting to pay off for Palladino and the Yankees. This former fifth round pick in 2013 is slowly but surely starting to tap his immense potential. Standing 6-foot-8, he began his professional career throwing his fastball mostly in the 88-90 mph range without much in the way of secondary pitches either. He bumped up his velocity in 2015 to sit more in the 91-93 mph range, he pared down his five-pitch arsenal to a harness more of a three-pitch mix, and the results were very solid. He still has a lot of work to do and still has a lot of ceiling left to tap but make no mistake, progress is being made and he's beginning to emerge as something more than a mere project.
RHP, Freicer Perez: Standing a listed 6-foot-8, reports have this Dominican native actually still growing. While the sheer size of him conjures up images of Domingo Acevedo it isn't just his body type that is nearly identical, there are other similarities too. Despite his enormous size he has a real proclivity for throwing strikes and shows advanced secondary pitches for somebody so new to pitching. He doesn't dial it up to 100 mph like Acevedo yet but then again neither did Acevedo when he was in the Dominican Summer League. He needs a lot of innings but there is a better than average chance that he, like Acevedo, could become a household name among Yankee prospects in the very near future.
RHP, Daniel Ramos: Sleeper alert! This Dominican native has all of 4.2 career innings to his name after having shoulder surgery immediately upon signing with the Yankees in 2014 and yet there's quite a buzz surrounding him. He's back on the mound and reportedly has rediscovered his 90-94 mph power. While that's a good sign for the still 20-year old, it's the plus changeup, plus-plus breaking ball that has team officials excited about his eventual return. He still has to pitch a full season before he's squarely on the prospect map and he isn't exactly an imposing figure on the mound either -- he stands just 5-foot-11 -- but a lot of baseball people believe he could move extremely quickly once he proves he's 100 percent healthy.
RHP, Jean Ramirez: There's a lot to like with this Dominican hurler and there's also a lot of frustration with him too. Both his stuff and effectiveness fluctuate a lot but when he's on he's a true impact pitcher. He'll have his days where he's sitting in the low-90s with less than average command and then there's days where he sits in the mid-90s with solid command and a big league breaking ball. The consistency isn't there with this now 22-year old but standing 6-foot-4 with the power potential he possesses there are also few that have his ceiling. He's not quite there yet but he's a name to put in the back burner for now as somebody who could eventually, and perhaps quickly, become one of the better pitching prospects for the Yankees.
RHP, Eduardo Rivera: In true Mesa and Palladino form, patience has been key in the development of this Dominican native. Always known for his blazing fastball, Rivera pitched three full seasons in the Dominican Summer League trying to harness his once wild control. He made huge steps in the right direction in 2015, limiting his walks to "just" 18 in 35.1 innings in short-season Pulaski and showing the same 97 mph fastball. He even developed his breaking ball into a plus big league pitch. He just turned 23 years old and hasn't sniffed the long-season leagues yet, and he still has to better his control going forward, but the sky is the limit on this emerging pitching prospect.
LHP, Anderson Severino: Just like with Ramirez there is both a lot of excitement and frustration with this Dominican native. Just like former southpaw pitching prospect Angel Reyes, Severino boasts a plus fastball-plus curveball combination from the left side that has scouts drool. However, it's his inability to consistently throw strikes that can be very maddening. He walked 33 batters in 41.1 Gulf Coast League innings this year and he's still trying to find the right power level with his fastball. He can dial it up to 98 mph pretty routinely but might be better served dialing it down in the name of throwing more strikes. If he can find that balance of correct power and control he could really take off.
RHP, Gilmael Troya: Not many first-year Latin American pitchers have the kind of debut season Troya had, posting a combined 1.80 ERA between the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League, striking out 67 batters in 60 innings, and limiting opposing batters to just 38 hits. The 18-year old boasts three big league average pitches already, including a 90-91 mph fastball that tops out at 94 mph. He's already filled out quite well so it remains to be seen how much ceiling is actually left but the pitch-ability is very advanced for a teenager. He's not a top pitching prospect just yet but he has it in him to be one someday.
RHP, Daris Vargas: This Dominican native spent three full seasons in the Dominican Summer League despite boasting a mid to upper-90s fastball and it was because he had a hard time throwing strikes. He turned around that aspect of his game in a big way in his first taste of the United States this year, limiting his walks to eleven in 51 Gulf Coast League innings. He shows a decent slider too but both of his secondary pitches need to come around a bit more. He's already 23 years old and hasn't had more than a cup of coffee in the long-season leagues but if he can continue to throw strikes and get the exceptional amount of ground balls that he's gotten recently he could be putting himself on the map real soon.
RHP, Alexander Vargas: Statistically it wasn't a banner debut season for last year's top International free agent signing among the Yankee pitchers, posting just a 4.97 ERA in the Gulf Coast League. However, keeping in mind that he did it mostly as a 17-year old and got to the United States so quickly, and the fact that his velocity improved as the season wore on, getting it up to averaging 92 mph, it was a very solid year. Throw in an average or better secondary arsenal and the fact that he's 6-foot-4 and still not done growing, there's a considerable ceiling yet to be tapped. He could be the newest version of Rookie Davis and likewise could one day become one of the top pitching prospects for the Yankees.
RHP, Miguel Yajure: Just signed last year, this 17-year old had a whale of a debut season in the Dominican Summer League, posting a 1.42 ERA in 14 starts. He shows a solid three-pitch big league arsenal and an advanced feel for pitching. He doesn't throw particularly hard, however, sitting mostly in the high 80s to low 90s, but the secondary pitches show long-term above average potential and he is still so young that he it seems inevitable that he'll fill out his still skinny frame and perhaps begin to throw harder down the road. The ceiling isn't huge but the great knack for pitching has him beginning to emerge as one of the better prospects.