BBDP Breakout Candidate 2013; Painting the Black

BBDP Nickname: “CB”

The basics:
Name: Corey Black
Age: 21
Draft: 2012 4th round out of Faulkner University
Size: 5-foot-11, 175-pounds
Fastball: 99 mph
Other pitches: Changeup, curve ball, slider
BBDP Ranking: 42

On Friday we looked into the breakout candidate Greg Bird. Today we look at a pitcher who could break out in a major way next season. A breakout candidate is slightly different than a sleeper. A sleeper is someone who is not expected by most to have a big season, but performs above expectations for one reason or another. Last year Matt Tracy was a popular choice, and he did not disappoint. A breakout candidate is someone who you predict will emerge as a prospect and gain attention. The former is production based, and the ladder is performance and tools based.

One could make the argument that Corey Black has already made a lot of noise in his big league debut. He advanced through three levels this year in his first minor league season, finishing in Charleston. In 52.2 innings this season, he had a 3.08 ERA and 50 strikeouts, while walking 15 (2.6 BB/9). He let up just one homerun the entire season. Slightly less than half of his innings last season were in Low-A, but he struck out 29 batters in just 23.1 innings. He had a 3.80 ERA in those innings. In Charleston at the age of 20, he is still young enough that the Yankees can afford to take their time with him.

Somehow, equipped with a 99 mph fastball and an excellent rookie performance, Black has still managed to slip under the radar. One of the reasons is undoubtedly the astounding depth of pitching in the lower minors of this system. He simply has gotten lost in the shuffle. Ranked just 42nd by Rob Abruzzese and I, most pundits don’t go beyond the top 30 in their rankings. The most aggressive ranking I have seen is 26, and even that is an aggressive ranking for him.

The stuff is definitely there. While at 5-foot-11 he doesn’t have much projection left in the tank velocity wise, he’s already got the 99 mph fastball. Projection is not the issue. On top of this fastball, he has a stellar changeup which is already major league above average. Those two pitches alone are good enough for him to be a successful major league reliever. Couple that with his penchant for control and hitting the “black,” and there might be even more to this pitcher.

Black is currently working on a curve ball and a slider as well. If he is able to hone his skills on either one of those pitches, he has number two or even ace potential. He hasn’t been marketed as a possible number one yet, but anytime you sport a 99 mph fastball and a plus changeup, the word ace has to come up in conversation. The Yankees and Nardi Contreras have become known for successfully teaching the curveball and slider, so this may just be a slam dunk. I’m sure that most of his offseason will be dedicated to sharpening these two pitches. If he’s successful, there’s no limit to how far he can go.

As mentioned above, despite slipping under the radar, this is a potential ace. He’s young enough so he has time to learn, and he’s already extremely polished for his age and level. The control is huge. Whether he reaches his ceiling is all about developing a third pitch. If he doesn’t, then his floor is that of a major league caliber reliever. A player who can dial it up as high as Black with his level of control will eventually get a shot in the bullpen of some major league team.

The estimated time of arrival is difficult to say. He has already moved rapidly through the system. If he can move two levels at a time, he could contribute to the major league team as early as 2014. I’d suspect a more likely estimate would be 2015. If he’s converted to a reliever, all bets are off.

There are only a few players in the entire system that can dial it up to 99 mph. Of those that can, none of them has the control that Black does. In retrospect, the ranking of 42 was probably not generous enough. Now that the list and the Summer has had some time to settle in, I suspect his pre-season ranking will be higher. He could go from 42 to top 10 by the end of next season if he breaks out like I think he will, which would be a BBDP record, albeit in a short one year history.

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8 Responses to BBDP Breakout Candidate 2013; Painting the Black

  1. mjinco says:

    first of all i want to thank you for doing this. Second what do you think about some of this excess pitching we have down in the lower minors, any thought on if the yanks could deal some of them in a package for an upton?

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      It's definitely possible, but I think Upton would fetch a prospect closer to contributing in the majors. The Yanks don't really have that right now. I don't think the Yankees arre going to get much on the trade market this season. Next season is a different story though. The big 4 will have a season each in AA. It'll be time to either trade them or use them pretty soon after that.

  2. wally says:

    I wouldn't be trading any of the Big 4– we are going to need a total replacement of position players and we may have tons of trouble getting BA Top 50 talent like these guys under the mew CBA. i am curious, though, Greg, about how you see the lower level pitching talent. Who would you rank as the top 5 or 6 starter prosects? Do you see the current talent level as higher than it's been in the Yankee system in the recent past? Where would it rank among all MLB teams? Thanks in advance for your answers.

    • Greg Corcoran says:

      I'd like to hang onto as many of the Big 4 as we can as well. You know how that story ends though. I'm sure at least 1-2 of them will be traded. Hopefully they keep them all though.

      As far as the top 5-6 guys in the low minors, that depends on what you mean by the low minors. I'm going to define it as people who played in low-A and below last season for the purposes of this post. The conversation starts with Jose Campos. If he's healthy, he's the best of the lot.

      After that comes Ty Hensley.

      Then I would say the next tier is Daniel Camarena and Angel Rincon.

      After that it's Jordan Cote, Giovanny Gallegos, Rookie Davis, and Chaz Hebert. That's eight, but the last tier is too close to separate. A lot of people would include Bryan Mitchell on this list because he is a potential ace. I won't be impressed with him until he learns control though.

      There are 5-10 other legitimate prospect too. I would say that the current talent level in the lower minors is one of the best in the league, and definitely the best in the past 10 years. The only time that comes close to comparing is when Joba, Phil, and IPK were coming up. Hopefully that will translate into a better organizational ranking in the next 2-3 years, but as we've seen recently a lot can go wrong on your way to the majors.

      As far as where it would rank in comparison to other teams, I am not the best person to ask about that. I'm not as familiar with other farm systems as I am with the Yankees. What I can say is that this farm system is much better than it was 2 years ago, when it was ranked 10th. I would imagine that within two years they would be a top 5 farm system.

  3. wally says:

    Thanks very much for this detailed response, Greg. Very encouraging too. I look forward to following some of these guys in coming years.

  4. Corey black is a back breaker to the hitters. I think he is on a venture to break the records of former players. His ranking might be sluggish at the moment, but I am sure he is going to top the charts very soon. At 5 ft 11 inches he stands out among his team mates.

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  6. Lets go COrey black. Baseball Rules!

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