This was a big year for homegrown Yankees pitchers. Adam Warren cemented himself as a late inning reliever, and Dellin Betances broke out as a potential future closer and one of the best relievers in the league. Vidal Nuno was included in a trade for McCarthy, who was huge for the Yankees in the second half. David Phelps again saw some time in the rotation, and Shane Greene was a revelation. Ivan Nova looked great until he went under the knife, and Chase Whitley came up and held down the fort while the Yankees awaited their rotation pieces to come back from injury. There’s still a lot of talent on the farm waiting for a shot at the show, and only time will tell who will step up to the plate in 2015. Bryan Mitchell is yet another guy who debuted this year and is not eligible for this list.
If the list looks a bit thin, the above paragraph might provide some insight as to why. If the above players were added to the list, Betances would be second. Shane Greene would be after Banuelos. David Phelps would be after Hensley, and Adam Warren after David Phelps. Bryan Mitchell would be after Adam Warren.
1. Luis Severino – RHP, 6-foot-0, 195-pounds, 19 years old – Kid hits 99 mph, sits in the mid to upper 90’s with his fastball, and has plus secondary offerings. He peppers the zone with strikes and attacks hitters. There is no question that he is the top pitching prospect in the organization. He could be a number one or a number two starter in the future. He throws a plus change and a developing slider with plus potential. By the end of 2015 he could be one of the top prospects in all of baseball. His 2.46 ERA with 127 K in 113.1 innings were absolutely phenomenal this year as a 19 year old. He’ll likely start in Trenton in 2015.
2. Ian Clarkin – LHP, 6-foot-2, 186-pounds, 19 – Clarkin’s season couldn’t have gone much better in 2014, posting a 3.12 ERA in 75.0 innings while striking out 75 and walking just 23. He has a fastball that currently sits in the low 90’s (90-94), but with his size that number could creep up to the mid to upper 90’s in short order. He has pinpoint control which is huge for a kid his age. He has a high leg kick, and models his delivery to resemble Clayton Kershaw. His curveball and changeup are already plus pitches too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he added another pitch to the arsenal before he makes it to the show. He was 2.9 years younger than the average player in his league this year, and he still dominated. Can’t wait to see how this kid develops. He’ll start in Tampa in 2015.
3. Manny Banuelos – LHP, 5-foot-10, 205-pounds, 23 – Banuelos has had a rough go of it for the past few years. He was once the crown jewel of the farm system. He probably still would be except for the fact that he got injured and required Tommy John Surgery. Instead of getting the surgery up front, the Yankees chose to wait and Banuelos lost two years of development time. Apparently even though the performance wasn’t there in 2014, the stuff was. Control is the last thing to return after Tommy John, so 2015 will be the year where we see what Banuelos can really do again. He had a 4.11 ERA in 76.2 innings this season, and struck out 71 while walking 31 in Double-A and Triple-A. If the control comes back, he will likely take his mid 90’s fastball, plus changeup, and plus curveball to the majors in 2015 as either a starter, or a late season reinforcement.
4. Brady Lail – RHP, 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, 21 – Lail had yet another successful season in the minors in 2014. He spent most of the season in Charleston, where he was solid. Then he moved up to High-A Tampa, where he was even better. Overall he posted a 3.62 ERA with 116 K in 134.1 IP and just 26 BB. He was 2.2 years younger than the average player in his leagues this year, and yet was still effective. Lail will sit 91-94 with the fastball, but he has a plus changeup and knuckle-curveball which keep hitters off balance. He’s a big kid so the velocity can and probably will pump a bit higher, but for now he has a ceiling of a #3 starter. He’ll likely start in High-A Tampa next season.
5. Ty Hensley – RHP, 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, 21 years old – After spending the better part of two seasons on the shelf, Ty Hensley finally pitched this season. He fared pretty well in limited innings. Hensley managed 30.2 innings with 40 K and a 2.93 ERA, while walking just 11 players. When healthy, his fastball can sit mid-90’s. This season, still recovering, he sat low 90’s. At his size there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to get that velocity back. He also has good secondary offerings and should be showcasing his stuff in either Low-A or High-A to start 2015. His ceiling is tough to determine giving his limited experience, but if he can stay healthy he is definitely a guy to look out for next year. It’s hard to call a first round draft pick a sleeper, but he really went under the radar in 2014 and next year could be his coming out party.
6. Caleb Smith – LHP, 6-foot-3, 180-pounds, 23 years old – Smith had a really strong start to the season in Low-A, but seemed to fade towards the end of the season. Part of that could be due to the fact that he was getting tired towards the end of the season. It was a career high for him in innings pitched. That said he is going to really need to step it up next year if he wants to remain a starter. Overall he had a solid season, with a 3.67 ERA and 116 K in 117.2 IP while walking 46. The control did falter from Smith which is was a problem for him back in college at Sam Houston State. The stuff is still there for Smith, with his 91-94 mph fastball which has touched 95. His secondary offerings are good enough to get strikeouts and get people out, but he’ll need to work on controlling them going forward to be successful. He’ll likely start off in High-A and when he masters his craft there could move up to Double-A quickly.
7. Austin DeCarr – RHP, 6-foot-3, 218-pounds, 19 years old – DeCarr, the 91st overall pick in the 2014 draft. He is the next in a long line of big righties the Yankees like to draft. Already as a 19 year old he sits 92-93 mph and can reach back for 95 mph. He has a potential plus curveball and a changeup which is a work in progress. The Yankees have had a lot of success teaching that pitch to their young starters. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he was taught a cutter somewhere along the way, a pitch the Yankees seem to be teaching all of their young players. With his current stuff he has a floor of a mid to late inning reliever. With his size, and the fact that he’s from the Northeast, he does have some upside left. The ceiling right now is a number two starter, but that could change in due time. This year his numbers didn’t look great overall with a 4.63 ERA and 24 K in 23.1 IP. He exhibited good control as well. Next year he could end up anywhere between the new Appalachian League team and Charleston. Only time will tell, but it will say a lot about how much progress he made this offseason.
8. Dan Camarena – LHP, 6-foot-0, 200-pounds, 22 years old – Camarena came out and proved he belongs this year. He finished the season with a 3.40 ERA with 112 K in 143 innings. He continues to shows above average control with 2.6 BB/9. He struggled in his 55 innings in Double-A, but he finished the season with four strong starts, including one where he struck out 12 in eight innings pitched. The difficulty with Camarena comes with his projection. The guy barely scrapes 90 mph with his fastball on a good day. He has superior secondary offerings to go with it, but the question becomes whether his fastball is good enough at that velocity to keep opposing hitters honest. He has youth on his side and it’s still possible he adds a tick or two to the fastball to increase his ceiling, but at 6-foot-0 and 22 years old that seems unlikely at this point. That said he showed success and durability this year, and he could carve out a role someday as a 4th or 5th starter. He’ll likely start in Trenton next season.
9. Miguel Sulbaran – LHP, 5-foot-10, 209-pounds, 20 years old – Miguel Sulbaran is a similar player to Dan Camarena with three major differences. First he is even smaller than Camarena. He also is two years younger and will start 2014 at the same level. Lastly he throws harder than Camarena, sitting more in the low 90’s. He had a good season in 2014 but definitely faded towards the end of the year. He finished off with a 3.49 ERA and 86 K in 116 IP. He had a 2.3 BB/9 walk rate. Next season he will be 21 and will already be in Trenton. He is extremely polished for his age, so it will be interesting to see how his stuff translates to Double-A this year. Sulbaran’s ceiling is similar to Camarena’s, a fourth or fifth starter.
10. Jaron Long – RHP, 6-foot-0, 185-pounds, 23 years old – Speaking of guys with a 5th starter ceiling, Jaron Long is another guy who fits in that category. Talk about a good story, this guy was a non-drafted free agent signing for the Yankees, and he rapidly ascended the ranks this season going all the way from Charleston to Trenton. Overall he had a 2.18 ERA with 122 K in 144 innings, and a miniscule 1.4 BB/9 walk rate. His stuff is below average in terms of velocity and secondary offerings. He does have one plus tool though; his control. He was consistently effective all season, so Long could easily sneak into the back end of the Yankees’ rotation this season if there are a couple of injuries in the starting rotation. He’ll start in Triple-A.
11. Domingo Acevedo – RHP, 6-foot-7, 190-pounds, 20 years old – I’m going to put this in writing right now; Domingo Acevedo is a major sleeper going into next season. He has a great chance to make a big splash next season. Acevedo throws the ball consistently in the upper-90’s, and is working on developing his secondary offerings. If he does develop those pitches, he will have an ace ceiling. If not, he has late inning reliever potential. Either way, this is a guy to watch going forward, as is anyone who is capable of throwing the ball as hard as he can. With his size, there’s always the potential he could throw even harder. This year the numbers were okay, and he went down with some nagging injuries that cut his rookie league season short. He had just 15.1 IP, but struck out 21 and walked six. Next year he could end up anywhere from the Appalachian League to Charleston depending on how polished he looks.
12. Simon de la Rosa – RHP, 6-foot-3, 185-pounds, 21 years old – Managed to throw 42.2 innings this season stateside, and had mixed results. He had poor control walking 5.3 per 9 innings. He also struck out 53 though, showing that the talent is definitely there. Sitting at about 94 mph, he also has a plus breaking ball in his back pocket. He’s working on a changeup, but right now he looks like a guy who will eventually end up in the bullpen to me. He’ll likely start in Charleston next year now that he has some stateside experience.
13. Justin Kamplain – LHP, 6-foot-0, 175-pounds, 21 years old – Stuff wise he is a tick below guys like Caleb Smith and Matt Tracy, but he is similar in many ways. He throws a low 90’s fastball, and was extremely effective this season. He also throws a curve and a changeup, and going forward he will look to make an impact after a fantastic first season. Overall he had a 1.65 ERA in 43.2 IP with 46 K and a 2.7 BB/9 walk rate. He’s likely to start off next season in High-A.
14. Gabe Encinas – RHP, 6-foot-3, 195-pounds, 22 years old – We saw a brief preview of what Encinas could do last season, when he started pumping 92-96’s and was mowing guys down in Charleston. Then, with some really poor timing, he ended up needing Tommy John Surgery. He came back towards the end of 2013, but needless to say he wasn’t yet the same guy. Next year will be the test of whether he can get back to where he was prior to the injury. If he can, then we’re looking at a guy with huge potential. He’ll likely start in either Charleston or High-A Tampa.
15. Orby Taveras – LHP, 6-foot-4, 225-pounds, 20 – Taveras is a young kid who was signed last year and skipped over the DSL to perform well in the GCL rookie league. He pitched 40.1 innings of 2.68 ERA baseball with 30 K and 21 walks. He needs to work on his control but he is a big, young lefty who can pump a low 90’s fastball at times. He has the potential with his size to throw much harder than that. If he can do that and control his three pitch mix of fastball, changeup, and curve, then he could make some noise next year. He has a sky high ceiling at this stage and he’ll likely start at either the Appalachian League or Short Season Staten Island.
Honorable mention: Juan Jimenez, Chaz Hebert, Rookie Davis, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Foley, Jordan Montgomery, David Palladino, Nestor Cortes, Derek Callahan, Manolo Reyes, Joey Maher, Caleb Frare, Connor Kendrick, Matt Tracy, Zach Nuding, Nik Turley.