Best of the Best: New York Yankees Pitching Prospects
For years, the New York Yankees have traded away hot prospects to bring in current major league talent.
This method burned them more times than not—see Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson.
In recent seasons, the team's strategy has changed dramatically. Under Brian Cashman's watch, the Yankees have stockpiled some of the best pitching in minor league baseball.
Some of the pitchers highlighted here skyrocketed through the minor leagues to make a huge impact in the bigs this season—Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy.
But they aren't the only bright spots in the New York farm system.
Have you heard of Dellin Betances? Or Humberto Sanchez? If not, you will. The future looks bright for the Yankees pitching staff if these raw talents can be molded into the stars of the future.
I have no doubt most of you have heard of Joba Chamberlain, who has taken Major League Baseball by storm.
Only 22 years old, Chamberlain has record 17 strikeouts in 12.2 innings. He has an ERA of 0.71, and has only allowed one earned run a month into his career.
Chamberlain has exceptional control of a 98-MPH fastball, and also has a knee-buckling slider. He recently let opposing hitters in on another little secret: a completely dominating curveball.
In an appearance against the hated Boston Red Sox on September 16th, Joba struck out three hitters, two with his new curve. With three dominating pitches, he could very well be the next Cy Young award winner.
Look for him to find a spot in the 2008 Yankees rotation.
Hughes was the Yankees' top draft pick in 2004, and was named the best minor league pitcher by Baseball America in 2006 after holding hitters to a .179 batting average and averaging 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings of work.
What makes Hughes so dominating isn’t his 93-MPH fastball—it’s his control. He can be compared with Mike Mussina in this respect.
Hughes made his first start for the Yankees in 2007, and has shown some signs of greatness. On May 1st, he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning before injuring his hamstring. An ankle sprain in rehab kept him down until early September, but he has improved since returning.
Hughes could very well start a game in the playoffs this year, especially with Roger Clemens’ health uncertain. The fact that Joe Torre would entrust Hughes with a postseason start speaks volumes about their faith in his ability.
At USC, Kennedy posted a record of 24-12 with 380 strikeouts. The Yankees drafted him in the first round of the 2006 draft, and he earned a promotion to the big leagues this September 1st.
Ian proved himself more than capable in his brief call-up, going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA. After a dominating performance against the Toronto Blue Jays (one hit in seven innings), Kennedy missed his next start with a back strain and was shut down for the rest of the 2007 season. Expect him to back stronger than ever in 2008.
Sanchez first signed with the Detroit Tigers in 2002. The Yankees acquired him as part of the Gary Sheffield trade in 2006.
Sanchez has struck out more than a hitter per inning in his minor league career, although his control is suspect at times—he averages about five walks per nine innings.
Sanchez underwent Tommy John surgery early in 2007 and missed the entire season. Prior to his surgery, he had a 92- to 95-MPH sinking fastball, similar to that of Chien-Ming Wang. He also has a solid slider and 12-to-6 curveball.
Dellin Betances was drafted in the eighth round of the 2006 MLB draft. Only 19 years old, he is already being compared to Randy Johnson.
At 6'8" and 230 pounds, Betances has electric stuff. He throws a 98-MPH fastball and a knuckle-curve. Though he's had trouble with control, he's a determined player and has improved tenfold since signing with the Yankees.
It’s unfair to expect that Dellin will be ready to help the Yankees for at least a few seasons. Still, it's exciting to know how electric his stuff is. If he can stay healthy, he has a very bright career ahead of him.
I've had to leave out several of the Yankees young prospects here—which speaks to Cashman's success in stocking the minor league system with young talent.
If all goes according to plan, Yankees fans can expect a dominating pitching staff in the not-too-distant future.
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