Patrick Teale

We sat down with Yankees co-pitching coordinator Danny Borrell for a Q&A session.

We sat down with Yankees' minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell for a Q&A session. In part four of this multi-part series we get his initial thoughts on Justus Sheffield, how James Kaprielian [in the photo above] looks, if prospect fatigue is setting in with Ian Clarkin, why doesn't Domingo Acevedo grab more headlines, and much, much more!. Let's move on to Ian Clarkin.  He's a guy who seems to have been around for a while now but really hasn't had that breakout season.  I've mentioned it before but there seems to be some prospect fatigue setting in with Clarkin among the fans because of that reason.  What have you seen from him?  Is he progressing the way you'd like?

Borrell: Oh without a doubt.  You're talking about a kid who's a high school lefty who obviously had expectations coming in as a first rounder with the New York Yankees.  Obviously the expectations are going to be high.  He's done a tremendous job of working to be a better pitcher.  He's gotten so much stronger too, I just saw him today.  The fastball is coming out of his hand well, he's added a slider this offseason, the kid knows how to pitch, and with the determination this kid has you can't second-guess him.  If you question him he's going to prove you wrong.  I love that about him.  The stuff's going to be there and if he stays healthy he's going to be just fine. Is that really the big question with him, just staying healthy? 

Borrell: Yeah he's had just little things here and there but just like anyone else he's fighting some injuries here and there.  He just happens to be a first-rounder doing it. I don't want to say there's any sort of prospect fatigue with this guy but for as good as the stuff is and the results have been on the field it doesn't seem like Domingo Acevedo grabs too many headlines, and I don't know why.  

Borrell: Let's see, what is he?  95 [mph] to 102?  Something like that.  He has a little slider and a changeup [too].  His changeup is a plus Major League pitch.  The slider he's done a great job with.  He struggled with it early but the swing and miss percentage on his slider now is through the roof, and he's got a huge fastball.  He works his tail off too and he's done a great job of filling the strike zone.  I don't see how a guy throwing that hard gets lost but that probably drives him to be a better pitcher. He's another one who, like Clarkin, has battled some nagging injuries over the past two years and it's probably a big reason why he's a bit more under the radar than he should be.  Like Clarkin though, is the big key for him just staying healthy?

Borrell: Yep but you could say that about just any pitcher really.  Staying healthy [is key], but guys like that there's a little history there of being hurt but if they stay healthy they'll be just fine. I guess what I mean is he doesn't have the glaring weakness to work on; he throws strikes with three really good pitches so for him more so than most it's just about staying healthy and getting reps, no?

Borrell: Yep, staying healthy, gaining experience, and getting his reps. Let's move on to James Reeves because he had such an outstanding season last year and he's not exactly what you'd term a fire-baller.  Everyone knows he can pitch but specifically talk about the stuff. 

Borrell:  He's a side-arm lefty -- just above side-arm -- low three-quarter, 89-93 mph, and he could probably pitch an entire game with his fastball and not get hurt too much.  He can command it, nice breaking ball [slider], he spins it extremely well, he's developing a changeup, and last year we had him as a starter and a reliever, and he had very similar numbers [in both roles].  When you think of a side-arm lefty you think of a left-handed bullpen specialist but he gets righties out just as much as he does lefties. Is he going to pitch in both roles this coming season or are you going to stick with one?

Borrell: He's in Major League camp right now so we're going to let him get his feet wet and let the Major League staff check him out but we're expecting similar to last year, get him some innings and through his results he'll let us know which role is for him. You mentioned results and Josh Rogers had some pretty good results of his own last year.  Talk about Rogers.  Is he another one of these Cortes-Camarena types?

Borrell: Yeah but by the end of the season he was pitching 91-93 mph.  He's got a nice breaking ball too.  He came in as that great breaking ball [curveball], pitch-ability lefty but he's just another kid where the drive to succeed is unparalleled.  He wants to be really good and he puts in the work to do it.  He did a nice job developing his changeup last year and probably suffered a little bit earlier in the season when he knew he had to get better with it so it's a testament to him that he would put the reps in.  He finished the season very well.  . Another lefty whose stuff gets underrated nationally and had a tremendous season of his own is Caleb Frare.  He's a former starter who missed two full and nearly three seasons with injuries, and now he's pitching out of the bullpen.  Talk about his stuff.  Is he still throwing all of his pitches?

Borrell: Yeah fastball, slider, changeup and at Instructional League he was 94-96 mph with a mid-80s wipeout slider. He's found a niche in the bullpen obviously but he's also got three pitches from the left side.  Is he a candidate to go back to the starting rotation?

Borrell: Oh yeah, that's always the question, especially with a lefty who throws in the mid-90s.  He has the potential of moving extremely fast in the bullpen but he'd probably want to start.  In fact, if you asked him he'd pitch every single day and I love that about him.  I just want him to stay healthy and get some innings, and he'll just open some eyes just by staying healthy because it's an explosive fastball.  It plays harder than the 95 mph.  We'll probably keep him in the same role that he's in unless something comes up.  I think he's very comfortable where he is and he's performed. We've talked about Rogers and Camarena, let's talk about Nestor Cortes.  He gets that soft-tossing, pitch-ability lefty tag thrown at him, no?

Borrell: Yeah but I'll tell you what he pitched at three different levels for us last year and he dominated.  It would be difficult to find a pitcher with better numbers than he had last year and he does it with just pitch-ability.  He's got a nice deceptive fastball.  Even though it gets up to 92 mph -- most of the time 88-92 mph -- and it plays big.  It plays much bigger than the numbers and you can tell by the swing-and-miss percentages on his fastball.  He's got a nice little changeup and he spins the breaking ball extremely well.  It's just another high school kid who as he matures will get stronger.  I expect him to perform the same this year as he has in the past. I know with a lot of these newer pitchers to the organization you want to see more of them but just give us your observations of Justus Sheffield on the brief looks you've had of him.

Borrell: Dynamic.  All around too; dynamic personality, dynamic pitch package, great athlete. It's mid-90s, power changeup, power breaking ball, everything you'd want in a starter in the big leagues. It sounds like you don't expect him to last long in the minors.

Borrell:  I expect him to perform in the minors.  Heck the kid's not even 21 [years old] yet so that's crazy because he acts like he's 35 [years old].  He's really mature and everybody loves him.  He's a dynamic personality and he matches it on the field. Let's talk about Domingo German.  Everyone knows he can throw extremely hard and everyone knows he's got the changeup.  Talk about the breaking ball in particular though.

Borrell: Yeah big arm, big changeup, and he can spin the ball.  Just like any kid coming back from Tommy John surgery that's going to be the final pitch that comes.  It's one of those things that we understand and he still got a ton of swing and misses with it last year.  I expect it's going to be here this year as well.  He'll keep on moving up and hopefully he stays healthy because the pitch package is there. Let me ask about James Kaprelian because this time a year ago he seemed destined to be pitching in the big leagues at some point last year. 

Borrell: Yeah and he came back in the Fall and it was obviously a very tough year for him going through what he's gone through but he handled it with class, dignity, and did a nice job.  It's got to be mentally stressed out to go through something like that but he performed out in the Fall League.  The fastball location was a little rusty of course but I'll tell you what, in just the several looks I've had this Spring he looks great.  The ball is flying out out his hand, he looks healthy, he's strong, he's spinning the ball well, the changeup is working, and I'm just happy he's on the field. 

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories