In this article, I wanted to spotlight three relief pitchers and one swingman that were later round draft picks and were not on my 2021 Yankees Top 50 list but very well could make their way there in 2022. The Yankees have had good success finding and developing many relief pitchers late in the draft in recent history. Among them, in Round 8 or later are Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, Phil Coke, Mike Dunn, David Robertson, David Phelps, Shane Greene, John Brebbia, and Nestor Cortes. This seems to be a continued trend with these four pitchers whom I believe have a chance to help the Yankees bullpen in a few years.
Keegan Curtis – The University of Louisiana at Monroe alum was drafted in the 22nd round 667th overall in 2018. The righty had a 1.39 ERA 37:10 KBB 32.1 innings between Staten Island Yankees and Charleston RiverDogs in 2019. Curtis owns a mid-90s fastball with a wipe-out curveball and decent slide. He hit triple digits with his fastball in workouts in 2020 and looked very impressive. Curtis began the season calling Somerset home in 2021 where working on pitching his breaking ball and to throw strikes will be his key to success and to advance.
— Pinstriped Prospects (@PinstripedPros) July 13, 2020
Justin Wilson – Another Justin Wilson could call the Bronx bullpen home in a few years. Wilson underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2016 and was selected in the 23rd round pick 697th overall in the 2018 draft out of Vanderbilt. After only pitching a total of 6.1 innings while in college due to his injury and a deep Vanderbilt bullpen which was enough for the Yankees to draft him. His three-pitch arsenal consists of a mid 90s fastball that hits triple digits, a decent curveball and changeup. Control is a huge issue Wilson will need to work on. Fun fact – he pitched and caught in high school! Wilson began the 2021 season in Hudson Valley.
Zach Greene – Greene was drafted after his junior season by the Miami Marlins in the 15th round in 2018, but opted to stay in school for another year. The move paid off when in 2019 the Yankees selected him in the eighth round, 255th pick overall. A right-handed pitcher from the University of South Alabama he pitched mostly as a reliever in college. In 2019 he tossed 49.2 innings with a fantastic 1.45 ERA, striking out 70 batters against just eight walks. Greene’s fastball only sits at 91-92 mph and touches 93-94 but has good movement with late cut and generates a lot of swings and misses in the strike zone. Greene also throws a decent slider in the low-80s and is developing a changeup. He’s the type of analytics pitcher teams have been looking for with 2500 rpm with nearly pure backspin on his fastball. He began the year in Hudson Valley posting a 2.21 ERA with 33 K’s in 20.1 innings, while the opposition hit just .092 against him and then got promoted to Somerset in mid June. Fun fact – his favorite athlete is Bartolo Colon.
— Sun Belt (@SunBelt) June 4, 2019
Mitch Spence – Spence, a righty from the University of South Carolina Aiken, was selected in the 10th round 315th overall in 2019. Spence fastball sits in the low 90s range reaching 95 at times. He also features a solid curveball that has the potential to become a plus pitch along with an average cutter and changeup to round out his repertoire. After signing, Spence was sent to Rookie ball Pulaski where he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen, though with his background as a starter, he made a number of multi-inning appearances. In 16 games (28 IP) he had a 3.54 ERA and 2.60 FIP with only 4 BB to 29 K’s. I believe Spence is destined to be a reliever but right now he is listed as a starter being a swingman for Renegades in 2021. His 4 pitch mix could make him an interesting name to watch. After 7 games this season in Hudson Valley (4 games started) he’s struggled out of the gate, giving up 11 ER in 21.2 IP, although he’s still striking out more than one per inning (10.4 K/9) which is a good sign.