Is Justus Sheffield ready for the show?
Chance Adams was the 11th starting pitcher in Yankees history to make his Major League baseball debut at Fenway Park. The combined results of those starts: 68 IP, 3-6 and a 3.71 ERA. Adams in particular has been inconsistent at the Triple-A level, but recently seems to have turned a corner and pitched much better. The Yankees did not put him in an easy situation. Fans will got see what he brought to the table in a high-leverage game against a star-studded lineup. He got into trouble early, allowing a 2-run homerun to Red Sox 1B Mitch Moreland. Following this, Adams settled in nicely and retired 9 batters in a row at one point. The young pitcher did not look nervous or phased by the mighty Red Sox. He worked quickly and used his tailing fastball and slider to keep the opposition off-balanced. The long ball would haunt him as JD Martinez took him deep for a solo shot to disrupt his rhythm and run him after five innings. There were flashes of brilliance and inconsistency. When he fell behind and left the ball over the plate, the Red Sox made him pay. On the contrary, he was aggressive and looked good getting outs. The final line was 5 innings pitched, 3 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk and 2 strikeouts and the outing was an encouraging sign for Yankees fans.
Justus Sheffield LHP / Age 22 / Scranton RailRiders (Triple-A) ETA: 2018
Despite trade rumors swirling about, the young left-hander has put together a strong second-half that has shown growth and consistency for the RailRiders. With so much uncertainty at the number five spot in the Yankees rotation, I am surprised the move to bring him up has not transpired. The 22-year old has taken every step needed to earn the call and the time is now to do it. He is the next man up for the team and should be heavily involved in the Yankees pennant race. Sheffield has shown the ability to pitch efficiently and work deep into games at every level. He works all quadrants of the plate with a moving fastball that tops out at 96 MPH. To complement this is a sweeping slider that plays off Sheffield’s fastball perfectly. He has shown a tendency to overthrow at times, but also has shown the ability to command both of these pitches effectively and gained confidence in the process.
A bullpens usage rate skyrockets in the postseason, where every out is magnified. The Yankees should develop a plan to have Sheffield ready for a role out of the bullpen. This role could be similar to that of David Price for the 2007 Tampa Bay Rays. The youngster was used out of the bullpen in high leverage matchups in the middle innings. The hope is that Sheffield has the moxie to compete and matchup up well to get 5-6 outs in the same fashion.
Estevan Florial CF / Age 20 / Tampa Tarpons (High-A) / ETA: 2020
The most exciting position player in the Yankees farm system is finally healthy and playing consistent baseball. Florial looks to be the exciting table setter of the future in New York. One day he may bat in front of some combination of Torres/Judge/Stanton (think 3 years down the road). Florial missed the majority of the season after a wrist procedure that sidelined him for 3 months. After successful rehabilitation, the center fielder has shown flashes of what makes the organization so excited to see his growth and development. He was able to overcome adversity and continues to show his exuberant talent when everything is clicking. Overall Florial’s numbers will not jump out of you. But, it is important to put his injury into perspective and realize that he has not yet been able to fully get his footing this season. Recently, he has dazzled for the Tampa Tarpons and is easily the most dynamic player on the field. The hope is that Florial can continue to get healthy as the season winds down and finds a bit of his gap-to-gap power stroke after dealing with a major wrist injury.
Anthony Siegler (2018 1strd pick) / Age 19 / Pulaski Yankees (Rookie Ball) / ETA: 2021
The idea of a player that can both hit and pitch at the highest level has gained traction in the last couple of years. The hype began with the extraordinary Japanese import Shohei Ohtani. With the game moving in a new direction towards shifts, positionless baseball, and all-or-nothing hitting approaches, the idea of a two-way full-time star is now more welcome than ever. These types of players are rare, unique and may get the opportunity to become specialists like baseball has not witnessed since Babe Ruth.
Anthony Siegler is one of the more intriguing prospects in all of baseball. He is a switch-handed pitcher and switch-hitting Catcher. The 19-year old was the Yankees 23rdoverall pick in this past draft. Despite being so versatile, it is important to first and foremost view Siegler as a smooth catcher who is a proficient hitter from both sides of the plate. He is a good athlete and has shown flashes of power that have those in the organization excited to see his progress. The catcher also has excellent receiving skills to go along with an above average throwing arm. This arm possesses an upper 80s fastball with a developing curveball and has been effective through 7 professional innings. Siegler has a lot of room to grow but his rare upside at a few different positions make him a can’t miss prospect. He currently is slated to finish up the latter part of this season in rookie ball and does not look overmatched one bit.
Despite being busy at the trade deadline, the Yankees system is still very healthy. The organization did not lose too much in acquiring JA Happ, Lance Lynn, and Zach Britton. As the Yankees push towards the postseason, the organization has players who can help the team now, and players who have the potential to help the team in the future. For this fan base, the future is now.