Last year the Yankees had a few rookies who came through in a big way for them. Yangervis Solarte played well enough to be paired with a minor leaguer to get the Yankees Chase Headley. Dellin Betances became a fixture in the late innings for the Yankees and a fantastic bridge to David Robertson. He was probably the best setup man in the league. Masahiro Tanaka was Masahiro Tanaka until the injury. Finally, Shane Greene emerged as one of the best rookie starting pitchers in the league. He managed to net the Yankees one of the top young shortstops in the league in a trade this offseason.
With Yangervis Solarte and Tanaka coming from outside the organization, that makes two home grown prospects who had a major impact last season for the Yankees as rookies.
It is a rare occurrence, especially for the Yankees, that two prospects break out in the same season. Oddly enough, the Yankees have two prospects in camp right now who have similar profiles to Greene and Betances. They could easily end up being this year’s breakout pitchers.
The first is Bryan Mitchell. Mitchell is a 6-foot-3 right handed starting pitcher. He throws a fastball which sits in the mid 90’s, a nasty curveball, and also throws a changeup and a cutter. He has the four pitch mix, and has been improving his control at every level for the past few years, culminating in a 3.5 BB/9 in Triple-A last year. He even got a call up for 11.0 innings and had a 2.75 ERA last year.
He is still working on fine tuning his control, and will likely be ready by mid-season to start for the big league team if the opportunity presents itself. With his stuff, if he can stay in control he could be a revelation for the Yankees, much like Greene last year. His stuff is actually better than Greene’s but he has not yet learned to refine it. Like Greene, he has flown almost completely under the radar up until now.
If Bryan Mitchell is this year’s Shane Greene, then Jose Ramirez is this year’s Dellin Betances-lite. Ramirez is known for his nasty fastball-changeup combo. His fastball gets as high as 98 mph and his changeup is devastating. He is also working on a slider that could round out his repertoire nicely if he can refine it. The guy’s stuff is electric, and if he can control it he might be this year’s version of Betances. No one can replicate what Betances did last year, especially as a rookie, but Ramirez could provide similar value.
The best part about the relief situation is that Ramirez isn’t the only guy who could fill the Betances role next year as the breakout reliever. Jacob Lindgren, Nick Rumbelow, or Chasen Shreve could all have a similar impact if given the chance.
The Yankees have been oft criticized for their lack of farm production in recent years, but that dynamic may be changing. With Greene, Betances, and now Mitchell and the group of relievers they have in Triple-A, the Yankees could prove to have one of the more productive farm systems in the past few seasons.