Sizing Up The Starting Pitchers - Part One

PinstripesPlus.com analyzes the Yankees' starting pitching prospects. Which prospects are the ones that have the highest ceilings? Which are the ones that are closest to the Major Leagues? These questions are answered in Part One of our two part series on the Yankees' starting pitching prospects.

Highest Ceiling

RHP, Dellin Betances: The towering right-handed pitcher will turn 20 years old before the start of the 2008 season and he is already armed with three plus big league pitches. He can top out at 98 MPH with his fastball, has one of the best curveballs in the organization, and one of the better changeups as well, giving him true ace potential.

The biggest obstacles in reaching his ceiling will be learning to deal with his 6-foot-9 frame. Not only does it take him a little longer to get to the plate, giving opposing base runners a bigger jump than they should have, but his large frame does require a little more maintenance mechanically. Once he learns to throw his offspeed pitches from the same slot as his fastball and keeps his head from shifting in his delivery, he could start to move quickly.

RHP, Andrew Brackman: Like Betances, Brackman has incredible knockout stuff. Reportedly sitting in the mid-90's with his fastball, he can routinely hit 99 MPH with his four-seam fastball and takes a little off when he throws his sinker. He has two different curveballs at his disposal, including a power knuckle-curveball as his main strikeout pitch. He also reportedly has an advanced feel for a changeup.

Working his way back from Tommy John surgery, like Betances, Brackman's stuff is advanced and will focus more on his pitching mechanics once he's healthy. As good as his stuff is reported to be, he is a bit raw in the other facets of his game - command, mechanics, etc - but there's no denying he has the stuff to anchor a big league pitching staff someday.

RHP, Christian Garcia: Like Betances and Brackman, Garcia's stuff has the makings of a future big league ace. His fastball, which sits 92-95 MPH and tops out at 97 MPH, has very good movement and he has two other strikeout pitches with his knuckle-curveball and advanced changeup.

Drafted back in 2004 and having not even thrown a pitch beyond the low-A level, he doesn't even have a problem mechanically. In fact, he has some of the better pitching mechanics and that could allow him to fly through the organization once he returns from a trio of injuries [abdominal pull, Tommy John surgery, and knee surgery] that has limited him to 52 innings over the last two seasons. He will need to prove, however, that he has made big strides in his maturity level and show that he is taking his career seriously. All signs point towards that already starting to happen during his rehabs.

MORE POWER COMING?: If Heredia can increase his velocity a few ticks, his ceiling could be unreal. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
RHP, Jairo Heredia: Armed with a great curveball, a big league changeup, and impeccable command of a fastball that can touch 92-93 MPH at times, the 18-year old doesn't have the blazing fastball of the other names on this list - yet! He still has some room to fill out his young body, though, and a lot of scouts believe there will be more power coming down the pike.

What he lacks in overall velocity, however, he more than makes up with his advanced feel for pitching and pinpoint control. If he wasn't to add any velocity in the coming years his ceiling would be more along the lines of an Ian Kennedy type, but he's just so young, and he has so much projection left in his game, that his ceiling could wind up being so much higher.

RHP, Ivan Nova: Stuff-wise, the 21-year old is right up there with the best the Yankees farm system has to offer. Armed with a plus changeup, a great curveball, and a fastball that averaged 93 MPH last season, he can more than hold his own with his repetoire. He also is a strike-throwing machine, a good sign for a pitcher who has yet to make it to the high-A level.

Where Nova runs into trouble making his stuff pitch at higher levels is attacking batters and expanding the zone. He has shown a bit too much complacency pitching to contact and has lacked the killer instinct when setting up batters. The basic foundation - stuff and control - is there to be a high-ceiling pitcher, he just needs to learn how to use it better on a consistent basis.

RHP, Arodys Vizcaino: Last year's top international signing among the pitchers for the Yankees, Vizcaino is a harder throwing version of Heredia. The 17-year old already sits 88-92 MPH with his fastball, showing good deception and very good movement. He also has showcased a knockout breaking ball and the feel for an advanced changeup.

He has yet to make his official minor league debut, but he looked awfully impressive with his advanced stuff through his first two Instructional League camps this offseason. As high as team officials are on Heredia's potential, some are even higher on Vizcaino's ceiling and that gives them another top-notch pitching prospect.

Closest to the Majors

RHP, Alan Horne: The 2007 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year went 12-4 with a 3.11 ERA and led the farm system with 165 strikeouts. He has a plus fastball, a plus curveball, an above average slider, and a changeup that can be quite good at times. He is in serious consideration of possibly helping out the big league club in the bullpen sometime soon should the team decide he can help them there. But even if he stays in the rotation, he's not far from helping the team in the foreseeable future. He's about as ready as he can be for the big leagues.

HE'S READY: Marquez's game is pretty much big league ready right now. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
Jeff Marquez: Boasting one of the best two-seam fastballs in the organization and arguably the best changeup, Marquez is also pretty close to having his game being big league ready. He made huge strides improving his curveball, getting it to the point where it's a legitimate strikeout pitch, and enhancing his command with it to get more called strikes with it is the perhaps the final task in being completely ready. A member of the 40-man roster, he should see his first big league action at some point this coming season.

Humberto Sanchez: If not for the fact he has been recovering from his Tommy John surgery last Spring, Sanchez would assuredly be in the big league mix already. He has a plus fastball, a plus curveball, a plus slider, and a serviceable changeup. Once he proves he is completely healthy, it won't be long before he makes his way up the Bronx as either a starter or a reliever. Health is the only thing holding him back - pitching-wise he's ready.

Steven White: The enhancements made to his two-seam fastball, slider, and changeup from a command standpoint has the former Baylor product as big league ready as he can be. He has very good command of a fastball that can hit 95-96 MPH, a knockout curveball that is his primary strikeout weapon, and now a member of the 40-man roster, with his versatility, he could be the first player called up to the big leagues this coming season.


Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nHighest Ceiling
\r\n
\r\nRHP, Dellin Betances: The towering right-handed pitcher will turn 20 years old before the start of the 2008 season and he is already armed with three plus big league pitches. He can top out at 98 MPH with his fastball, has one of the best curveballs in the organization, and one of the better changeups as well, giving him true ace potential.
\r\n
\r\nThe biggest obstacles in reaching his ceiling will be learning to deal with his 6-foot-9 frame. Not only does it take him a little longer to get to the plate, giving opposing base runners a bigger jump than they should have, but his large frame does require a little more maintenance mechanically. Once he learns to throw his offspeed pitches from the same slot as his fastball and keeps his head from shifting in his delivery, he could start to move quickly.
\r\n
\r\nRHP, Andrew Brackman: Like Betances, Brackman has incredible knockout stuff. Reportedly sitting in the mid-90's with his fastball, he can routinely hit 99 MPH with his four-seam fastball and takes a little off when he throws his sinker. He has two different curveballs at his disposal, including a power knuckle-curveball as his main strikeout pitch. He also reportedly has an advanced feel for a changeup.
\r\n
\r\nWorking his way back from Tommy John surgery, like Betances, Brackman's stuff is advanced and will focus more on his pitching mechanics once he's healthy. As good as his stuff is reported to be, he is a bit raw in the other facets of his game - command, mechanics, etc - but there's no denying he has the stuff to anchor a big league pitching staff someday.
\r\n
\r\nRHP, Christian Garcia: Like Betances and Brackman, Garcia's stuff has the makings of a future big league ace. His fastball, which sits 92-95 MPH and tops out at 97 MPH, has very good movement and he has two other strikeout pitches with his knuckle-curveball and advanced changeup.
\r\n
\r\nDrafted back in 2004 and having not even thrown a pitch beyond the low-A level, he doesn't even have a problem mechanically. In fact, he has some of the better pitching mechanics and that could allow him to fly through the organization once he returns from a trio of injuries [abdominal pull, Tommy John surgery, and knee surgery] that has limited him to 52 innings over the last two seasons. He will need to prove, however, that he has made big strides in his maturity level and show that he is taking his career seriously. All signs point towards that already starting to happen during his rehabs.
\r\n
\r\n\r\n
MORE POWER COMING?: If Heredia can increase his velocity a few ticks, his ceiling could be unreal. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
RHP, Jairo Heredia: Armed with a great curveball, a big league changeup, and impeccable command of a fastball that can touch 92-93 MPH at times, the 18-year old doesn't have the blazing fastball of the other names on this list - yet! He still has some room to fill out his young body, though, and a lot of scouts believe there will be more power coming down the pike.
\r\n
\r\nWhat he lacks in overall velocity, however, he more than makes up with his advanced feel for pitching and pinpoint control. If he wasn't to add any velocity in the coming years his ceiling would be more along the lines of an Ian Kennedy type, but he's just so young, and he has so much projection left in his game, that his ceiling could wind up being so much higher.
\r\n
\r\nRHP, Ivan Nova: Stuff-wise, the 21-year old is right up there with the best the Yankees farm system has to offer. Armed with a plus changeup, a great curveball, and a fastball that averaged 93 MPH last season, he can more than hold his own with his repetoire. He also is a strike-throwing machine, a good sign for a pitcher who has yet to make it to the high-A level.
\r\n
\r\nWhere Nova runs into trouble making his stuff pitch at higher levels is attacking batters and expanding the zone. He has shown a bit too much complacency pitching to contact and has lacked the killer instinct when setting up batters. The basic foundation - stuff and control - is there to be a high-ceiling pitcher, he just needs to learn how to use it better on a consistent basis.
\r\n
\r\nRHP, Arodys Vizcaino: Last year's top international signing among the pitchers for the Yankees, Vizcaino is a harder throwing version of Heredia. The 17-year old already sits 88-92 MPH with his fastball, showing good deception and very good movement. He also has showcased a knockout breaking ball and the feel for an advanced changeup.
\r\n
\r\nHe has yet to make his official minor league debut, but he looked awfully impressive with his advanced stuff through his first two Instructional League camps this offseason. As high as team officials are on Heredia's potential, some are even higher on Vizcaino's ceiling and that gives them another top-notch pitching prospect.
\r\n
\r\nClosest to the Majors
\r\n
\r\nRHP, Alan Horne: The 2007 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year went 12-4 with a 3.11 ERA and led the farm system with 165 strikeouts. He has a plus fastball, a plus curveball, an above average slider, and a changeup that can be quite good at times. He is in serious consideration of possibly helping out the big league club in the bullpen sometime soon should the team decide he can help them there. But even if he stays in the rotation, he's not far from helping the team in the foreseeable future. He's about as ready as he can be for the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\r\n
HE'S READY: Marquez's game is pretty much big league ready right now. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
Jeff Marquez: Boasting one of the best two-seam fastballs in the organization and arguably the best changeup, Marquez is also pretty close to having his game being big league ready. He made huge strides improving his curveball, getting it to the point where it's a legitimate strikeout pitch, and enhancing his command with it to get more called strikes with it is the perhaps the final task in being completely ready. A member of the 40-man roster, he should see his first big league action at some point this coming season.
\r\n
\r\nHumberto Sanchez: If not for the fact he has been recovering from his Tommy John surgery last Spring, Sanchez would assuredly be in the big league mix already. He has a plus fastball, a plus curveball, a plus slider, and a serviceable changeup. Once he proves he is completely healthy, it won't be long before he makes his way up the Bronx as either a starter or a reliever. Health is the only thing holding him back - pitching-wise he's ready.
\r\n
\r\nSteven White: The enhancements made to his two-seam fastball, slider, and changeup from a command standpoint has the former Baylor product as big league ready as he can be. He has very good command of a fastball that can hit 95-96 MPH, a knockout curveball that is his primary strikeout weapon, and now a member of the 40-man roster, with his versatility, he could be the first player called up to the big leagues this coming season.
\r\n
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