The K Zone: Which Yankee Prospect is Striking out Batters with Ease

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Gleyber Torres is headed to the MLB! And then every Yankee fan went to their favorite news outlet… No no no, Torres has not been called up, YET.

But even though Gleyber is the hottest commodity to talk about when it comes to Yankee prospects, I think it would be fun to flip the page and check out my favorite part of the baseball diamond: the pitchers mound.

This season has been nothing short of interesting for the Yankee pitchers. Between errants starts from Sonny Gray, Tanaka, Severino and then the woes of the almighty bullpen things have gotten off to a very rocky start. But what about the boys down in the minors? Are they seeing similar rocky roads? Man, I sure hope not!

Taking a look at several of my top ranked pitchers from this offseason’s top 50, we see that Chance Adams is off to a bit of a rocky start and Justus Sheffield is doing quite well in AA. Adams is sporting a 4.85 ERA through 3 starts and a 1.85 WHIP. That sure isn’t pretty for a guy who had a sub 3 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP on the year in 2017. If Chance wants that “chance” I was ready to give him last year he’s really going to need to cut down on the walks.

Justus Sheffield on the other hand is having a respectable start to his 2018 season. He’s rolling out with a 3.68 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 14 Ks in 10 IP. Granted his 8 walks aren’t something I’m writing home about but 6 of those walks came in his first outing where he couldn’t make it through 5 innings. In his second outing Sheffield went 5 2/3, striking out 9 and only walking 2. Now THAT is what I’m talking about. Sheffield continues to impress me with his poise and confidence in himself.

Now, those two are some names most people would recognize within the Yankee org but so far this season my #23 prospect from this offseason is absolutely tearing it up. That’s right, Trevor Stephan is absolutely crushing it so far through his first 3 starts.

Stephan, who was drafted in the third round in last years draft, has pitched 16 innings, struck out 20 batters, and all while only walking 6 (3 HBP). His command and ability to strike batters out has been something that’s continued from his time at Arkansas. His fastball can touch 97 while sitting more normally around the mid 90s and is a go to pitch just as it was during college. The biggest question for him coming into the draft was how his secondary pithes would progress. Well, take a look at the gif below of a side by side for his fastball (mid 90s) and slider (high 70s to low 80s), both of which look like solid strikeout pitches.

In his first year of professional play Trevor walked 4.9% of the batters he faced through 34.1 IP.  If Trevor can continue to work on his secondary pitches while excelling in the K/BB category like he has so far, one has to wonder if he can exceed expectations and potentially make his way into being a long term starter. However, even if he continues down a projected bullpen path he still can provide incredible value with the two pitches shown above.

So what do you guys think? Will Stephan continue on his path to being a top pitcher in the minors this year? Or will he fade out as the year goes by and fall into a future bullpen role that most may forget about?

Ryan Ortiz is a Robotic Process Automation Consultant living in the metro Atlanta area with his wife and two dogs. He lives and breathes baseball on a daily basis and loves nothing more than the New York Yankees. Outside of baseball his passions are beer, food, and video games. Ryan will be covering the New York Yankees for Prospects1500. Follow him on Twitter @ortizme93.

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