Patrick Teale

The Yankees have some of the deepest collection of arms in all of baseball, including the upper minor league levels.

The likes of Chance Adams, Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Holder, Dietrich Enns, and others have consistently grabbed all of the upper-level pitching headlines for the Yankees in recent months as potential in-house candidates to help the big league pitching staff -- and rightfully so -- but New York has so many other pitchers at the upper levels worth tracking. Here are the top six most underrated pitchers for the Yankees at the upper minor league levels.

RHP, Johnny Barbato: This former San Diego Padres prospect acquired for Shawn Kelley back in 2014 made his big league debut last year with some mixed results, posting an inflated 7.62 ERA in just 13 appearances but still striking out better than a batter per inning pitched.  He didn't pout when he got sent back down to Triple-A Scranton either, posting a 2.61 ERA for the RailRiders and adding pitches to an already devastating one-two pitch package.

He now has a changeup that is more like a splitter and he's added a slider to go with the plus fastball-plus curveball combination, making him more of a four-pitch guy.  Those two extra weapons could be exactly what he needs to turn things around at the big league level to give batters a different look and those two pitches are coming along so quickly that it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Barbato could get some looks as starter if for no other reason than to allow him more time to perfect those pitches more.  He gets lost in the upper minor league shuffle and he shouldn't. 

RHP, Will Carter: This time a year ago this former University of Alabama product was one of the best kept secrets down on the Yankee farm and a year later that still rings true today.  Drafted in the 14th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Carter missed the first half of his first full season last year after having his pitching elbow scoped and still wound up having a very respectable season, posting a combined 4.61 ERA and advancing all the way to Double-A.  The higher ERA and lower strikeout ratio [he struck out just 68 batters in 107.1 innings] drastically disguise what is actually some over-powering stuff that leaves him arguably 'King of the Underrated'.

It just isn't a deep arsenal, it's a deep arsenal of nasty pitches.  He game is predicated on a plus two-seam fastball that sits comfortably in the 93-97 mph range.  He generates a ton of ground balls with it and it's a big reason why his numbers at the lower levels [where the defenses aren't nearly as advanced] are a little skewed.  He compliments his fastball with a plus curveball, a rapidly developing slider with above average or better potential, and a plus power changeup.  He has swing-and-miss stuff, it's just probably not going to show up until he gets to the big leagues.  He's a top breakout candidate.

LHP, Caleb Frare: This former 11th round pick out of high school back in 2012 was snakebit injury-wise early on his career, missing the first two full seasons [including Tommy John surgery], but has bounced back in a huge way over the past two seasons since then.  He got shifted to the bullpen upon his return, mostly as a way to limit his innings, but what Frare and the Yankees have found out is that it's a role that absolutely suits him'.

He still throws all three of his pitches even has a short reliever but it's his two main pitches -- his fastball and slider -- that have rapidly become plus pitches, and it's a big reason why he posted a 0.92 ERA and didn't allow a home run for high-A Tampa last season.  The fastball began averaging 94-96 mph late last season and with his nasty slider he's quickly become a huge weapon against lefties, the kind of weapon that could really begin to move quickly up the minor league ladder.

RHP, Giovanny Gallegos: It was just a few short years ago that this Mexican righty was considered one of the higher-ceiling starting pitching prospects at the lowest minor league levels but injuries began to bury him somewhat in the rotation and it pushed him to the bullpen where the Yankees thought the stuff might play up.  Fast forward to 2016 and that transition is beginning to look very special in hindsight, posting a combined 1.27 ERA between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton, and striking out 106 batters in 78 innings along the way.

Still very much an advanced strike-thrower, his then 90-92 mph fastball has turned into a 93-96 mph fastball and now he's added a plus slider to go with his plus curveball, and he's always had a quality changeup.  Like Jonathan Holder, who overshadowed Gallego statistically last year, he's a four-pitch reliever with not just advanced pitch-ability but back-end bullpen stuff and the ability to go multiple innings and even multiple days. 

RHP, Ronald Herrera: Acquired from the San Diego Padres in the winter of 2015 in the Jose Pirela trade, this small-ish right-hander has some impressive stuff of his own.  Standing just 5-foot-11 and weighing 185 pounds, he still averages 92-95 mph with his fastballs [both a two and four-seam], he throws four different secondary pitches [curveball, slider, cutter, and changeup], he shows solid big league command, and the Venezuelan native hit Double-A at just 21 years old and shows advanced pitch-ability.

He doesn't average in the mid-90s like a lot of the other power right-handers the Yankees have in the minor league system right now and that does allow him to fly under the prospect radar somewhat but he's hit 97 mph before so it isn't exactly soft-tossing stuff either.  Now a member of the 40-man roster, given his deep arsenal of pitches, innate strike throwing, and overall feel for pitching, he's not far off from being a big league contributor soon.

RHP, Brady Lail: This former 18th round pick back in 2012 didn't have a very good year statistically last season, posting just a 5.07 ERA in 17 Triple-A starts for Scranton.  Lost on critics, however, is that he reached the highest minor league level at the tender age of 22 years old and didn't turn 23 until August, an impressive feat in of itself.  Some prospect fatigue might be setting in here too as it seems he's been around forever but in actuality is really only know growing into his man strength.

He still has one of the better changeups around, an above average breaking ball combination with his slider and curveball, and inexplicably gets labeled as a soft-tosser when he routinely hits the mid-90s with his fastball.  Stuff-wise he still has all of the pitches needed to be successful, he just needs to get back to commanding his fastball the way he was at the lower minor league levels.  Still very much an internal starting option for the Yankees, a strong start would resurrect his confidence and it's not beyond his skills to get on such a roll that he not only becomes a solid option for the big league club but an integral part of their success.


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