King Of The Underrated

Right-handed pitcher Jeremy King is not considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Yankees' organization, but to overlook his talent and his value to the Yankees would be a mistake of mammoth proportions. He doesn't have the sexy stats. His stuff might not be overpowering. But what King lacks in those areas, he more than makes up for in versatility and consistency.

Jeremy King was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 MLB Draft by the Yankees right out of high school. After beginning his career with an ERA over 4.00 in each of his first three seasons, King completed his third consecutive year with a sub-4.00 ERA after another solid year in 2005 to bring his career ERA to a respectable 4.04 in his six seasons.

Armed with a fastball consistently clocked 88-91 MPH on the radar gun, combined with a good curveball and slider, and a developing changeup, King is not an overly imposing figure on the mound. But King still managed to finish his sixth season with combined 3.31 ERA between stops at Tampa, Trenton, and Columbus in 2005, his finest season as a pro.

But even with fantastic year turned in by the 23-year old hurler, he still hasn't garnered much attention in a now pitching-rich Yankees' farm system.

"Some guys just fly under the radar and I think I'm kind of one of those guys," a humble King told in a recent interview. "I never really had one of those years with the unreal stats or anything that I would have liked to have had. But I think my pace is good."

Solid might be a better word.

Jeremy King has progressively climbed the minor league ladder, turning in steady year after steady year in his career. While he may have never had the "unreal stats" as King puts it, he hasn't had the dreadful years that plague many developing pitchers.

His ERA for an entire year has never been over 4.50 since joining the Yankees in 2000 and he has shown his versatility on the mound, serving admirably in both a starting role and as a reliever. But which role does he prefer?

"Whatever gets me to the big leagues, that's what I'll do," King told us. "I'm just happy as long as I get an opportunity to play. The way I look at it, I'm blessed to go out and pitch. Just about anyone would trade places with us. But to answer your question, I've had good runs as a starter and others as a reliever."

King doesn't take his opportunities for granted. Growing up a Yankees' fan, he realizes that he is inching closer to every boy's dream.

"What I love about the Yankees though is that they mold you into a Yankee baseball player, so by the time you're in the bigs, that is all you know," King reflected. "I want to make it the Majors and I want it to be with the Yankees."

Jeremy King will be a free agent after the 2006 season, a milestone he has already been contemplating.

"I want to end up in AAA next year," King remarked as to his goal for 2006. "I said this year that I wanted to have a solid year in AA, so I'm thinking I'll probably be in AA to start the season next year. I just want to do well enough to give them a reason to re-sign me next year."

Neither garnering serious attention from the pundits nor having the stigmatism of a high-priced draft pick, King is the epitome of a blue-collar worker determined to realize his life-long dream.

"I think for all the guys down here, no matter where they were drafted or what they signed for, it just depends on how bad they want it [to get to the Majors] and how hard they work at it," King revealed. "It is not about money. It is a life decision. I'm doing everything in my power to get there and nobody is having anything handed to them."

"I'm just working hard so when I do get there [the Major Leagues], it is going to be for good," King told us. "I don't want any holes in my game and when I get there, I'm going to be there to stay."

Underrated he may be. As solid as they come, overlooking King as a future contributor to the Yankees would be very a big mistake.

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