2004 Yankees' Minor League Pitcher of The Year

Take a look with the PinstripesPlus.com writers to see who the better minor league pitchers were in the 2004 season. This list is not about who the better prospect is or who will be the better major leaguer. This list is based only on what they did in the 2004 season. Each writer lists their top five and then expands on their selections (and other notes) below.

Each year PinstripesPlus.com will have voting from our minor league writers to award the "Yankees Minor League Pitcher of the Year". And the winnner is...

LHP Brad Halsey of the Columbus Clippers. Halsey edged out Tampa's Steven White, collecting 10 points based on the scoring of 5 points for a first place vote, 4 points for a second place vote, and so on. White finished second with seven total points, barely edging Staten Island flame-thrower Jesse Hoover who finished with six points. See the voters thoughts on each vote below.

Frankie Piliere

Michael Greene

Brad Halsey

Brad Halsey

Jesse Hoover

Steven White

Steven White

Colter Bean

Eric Abreu Jesse Hoover
Tyler Clippard Tyler Clippard

Frankie Piliere

1. Brad Halsey - To me, there really can't be any other choice for number one than Brad Halsey. He has accomplished just about everything you can in the Minor Leagues and next year he will likely get a chance to earn a spot on the big club in spring training. Halsey was the horse for the Columbus pitching staff, which behind him went through multiple overhauls. The 23 year old lefty put up monstrous numbers as he led the starting staff in innings pitched, tied for the lead in wins and was second only to Chien-Ming Wang in starters ERA. This was just an absolute dream season for him in the minors at least and there is no one better to get this award.

2. Jesse Hoover - Can anyone say total domination? Total domination was Jesse Hoover in the New York Penn League this year. I was hesitant to hand out this award to anyone that spent his entire season in a short season league but Hoover was far too incredible to pass up. The tall righty had an unbelievable 90 strikeouts in only 55.2 innings pitched which was second only to another pitcher who had many more innings pitched than Jesse had. He also put up a sparkling ERA of 1.78. At the start of the season, his walk totals were only slightly disturbing, but under some great teaching of Tommy John and Dave Eiland, Hoover gained great command of his breaking ball. Hoover has been compared to Roger Clemens who also came to the MLB with two pitches, like Hoover, a fastball and a curveball.

3. Steven White - It certainly took Steven White long enough to finally sign with the Yankees after he was drafted in the 4th round of the draft in 2003. But, once he got here, he made his presence well known. Since he signed late, the Yankees pushed him to Battle Creek where he was outstanding. There, he posted a 2.68 ERA and was soon promoted to Tampa. It was there that he earned his way into my top 5 list. He lowered his ERA to 2.56 in 59.2 innings pitched. he also lowered his walk totals and had an impressive 6-2 record. But, here is really what turned my head. White pitched 8 shutout innings in game one of the playoffs for Tampa, allowing only 2 hits and no earned runs. That sealed the deal for him to make this list.

4. Eric Abreu - If this list was based on the most impressive pitchers, Abreu would certainly be number one. But, I will go out on a limb and say that Abreu is my prediction to be number one on this list next year. But, this year, he burst onto the scene. Here is a guy that has now jumped four levels since the end of last season. The 21 year old righty was in the Dominican Summer League last year and started this year in the Gulf Coast League. He blew hitters away there and he soon was promoted to Staten Island. Once again, pure domination. Then, the big promotion happened. Abreu skipped Battle Creek and jumped all the way up to Tampa. To put it in perspective, he pitched 17 innings in 3 games there and allowed only two earned runs. This is the guy that excites me most in 2005.

5. Tyler Clippard - Talk about a guy the Yankees really pushed in 2004. When I saw he was put on the Battle Creek roster at the age of only 19, I though it was a mistake but his big time curveball helped prove me wrong. While Clippard's overall record doesn't tell the story, everything else does. T-Clip has amazing control to go along with his strikeout potential. He led the staff with 149 innings pitched and put up a 3.44 ERA. But here is the reason I love the guy: 32 walks/145 strikeouts. That says it all right there. His curveball is so advanced and he has the ideal pitcher's body. This kid can only get better and he will have a starting spot waiting for him in Tampa next season.

Honorable Mention: Jason Jones - I was so torn between Clippard and Jones but I felt that it was owed to Clippard because he pitched a full season. However, no disrespect to Jones who may be the most polished pitching draftee for the Yankees this year. He is a big bodies, 6' 5" righthander with a heavy sinking fastball, an excellent breaking ball and a changeup. Jones was drafted as a college senior and it shows in just how polished he is. Jason rolled through Staten Island and was sent to battle Creek for his last few starts where he also was spectacular. Expect to see him in Tampa next year.

Michael Greene

1. Brad Halsey - I gave a very slight edge to Halsey over Steven White of the Tampa Yankees for the simple reason Halsey's numbers were against more advanced hitters in the AAA International League. Halsey, a 7th round draft pick out of the University of Texas, was the first Yankees' draft selection to make it all the way to Yankee Stadium and simply dominated AAA batters all season. Halsey went 11-4 with a 2.63 ERA for the Columbus Clippers and tallied three complete games, including two shutouts.

2. Steven White - Selected 124th overall in the 2003 draft out of Baylor University, White's fantastic season got somewhat lost pitching in two different leagues. White's combined numbers for 2004 (11-4, 2.61 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) for the Tampa Yankees and Battle Creek Yankees were right up there with Halsey's fine season and were even better in some areas. The Yankees will be tempted to give White a shot at the Trenton rotation in 2005.

3. Colter Bean - Relievers, especially setup pitchers, usually get lost in consideration for awards. Bean flew way under the radar this season for the AAA-Columbus Clippers and baffled hitters all season. His 109 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings are going to force the Yankees to consider him for the bullpen in 2005. The key to Bean's success, aside from the strikeouts, is keeping men off base. His 1.02 WHIP ratio (walks + hits per innings pitched) was among the AAA league leaders this season and an indication of just how effective he truly is.

4. Jesse Hoover - It's tough to give a pitcher in the short-season leagues such recognition as it's such a small sample to judge. But Hoover's 2004 professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees was just to great to ignore. Hoover began the season dominating NY-Penn League batters out of the bullpen before being inserted into the rotation halfway through the season. The question still remains whether or not Hoover has the repertoire to remain a starter as he progresses through the minors, but his overall numbers were off the charts in 2004: 55.2 IP, 1.78 ERA, 26 BB, 90 K's!

5. Tyler Clippard - The Yankees' 9th round draft pick in the 2003 draft pitched very well in his first taste of the long-season leagues in 2004, going 10-10 with a 3.44 ERA in 25 starts with one complete game for the Battle Creek Yankees. What has scouts excited about Clippard is his impeccable control. Clippard posted an incredible 4.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first full season, striking out 145 batters while walking just 32 in 149 innings. He's earned his way into the Tampa starting rotation for 2005 where he'll be one of the Florida State League's youngest pitchers.

Honorable Mention: We'll start at the top of the minor league ladder where LHP Alex Graman quietly put together a superb season for the AAA-Columbus Clippers. Graman went 11-6 with a 3.37 ERA but still walks a few too many batters, allowing 53 free passes in 131 innings. Matt DeSalvo was dominant in the Florida State League earlier in the year, going 6-3 with a 1.43 ERA in 13 starts for the Tampa Yankees. An injury ended his season prematurely while pitching for the AA-Trenton Thunder. Eric Abreu went a combined 5-0 with a 1.01 ERA between stops for the Staten Island Yankees and Tampa Yankees and was easily the most surprising pitcher of the year in the Yankees' farm system. He could not crack the top five however due to an even smaller sample size than that of Hoover. Abreu is one to watch however for the 2005 season as he continues his meteoric rise through the system. Edwardo Sierra (2-3, 28 SV, 48.2 IP, 44 H, 45 BB, 57 K), Ben Julianel (5-5, 10 SV, 2.58 ERA, 59.1 IP, 52 H, 24 BB, 70 K) , and Brandon Harmsen (10-3, 3.53 ERA, 130 IP, 165 H, 32 BB, 80 K) all had fine seasons as well in 2004.

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