Pitching: Who is left in the minors, and who is Kikuchi?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

As the Yanks seek to add another starter (Free agents Corbin? Keuchel? Eovaldi? Trade for Kluber or Carrasco?) in addition to the recently acquired James Paxton, and also look to find a suitor for Sonny Gray, we look at the second tier—those pitchers who may be called up to make an emergency start, or a couple, in case a member of the starting rotation goes down with injury. With the fragility of this rotation, a certain possibility.

I thought this would be especially interesting now that the Yanks have traded away Justus Sheffield.

Some guys I will be discussing are years away. Some, I will miss out on in discussing them in this article. But I hope to tackle a lot of prospects in this article, and give you an idea of who is left for AAA, AA and maybe one or two at High A.

First off, what will be done with Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga? As for German, he was 2-6, 5.57 in 14 starts, 7 relief appearances. 26, he has good stuff, but in looking at his career, he has a 6.19 ERA as a starter, 3.13 in relief. I wonder if the Yanks would be best off in making him a middle reliever, and in hoping his stuff plays there as it has for Chad Green. He can be pulled out of the bullpen for an emergency start if necessary. Stretch him out in spring training but he then goes into the bullpen to be used as the new “Adam Warren” if you will.

As for Loaisiga, 24, I really like his stuff but feel he needs a full year as a starter in AAA. His splits last year were opposite German’s. Four starts, ERA 3.00. In relief at the end of the year, 10.80. (Overall 2-0, 5.11, 4 starts, 5 relief appearances). He needs to build up his arm. He only pitched a total of 80 2/3 innings last year (6-1, 2.98 in the minors), and that is majors and minors combined. He hasn’t even pitched in AAA yet, the Yanks having brought him up from AA. Give him AAA experience, stretch out that arm. Bring him up only if doing well and if someone goes on the DL and prepare him to take over in the rotation for the retiring CC in 2020.

Michael King. This is a guy to watch out for. I see him starting the year at AAA and he could be a sleeper. 23, he started last year at Tampa (A+), and ended with AAA SWB, going a combined 11-5, 1.79. If he does well again at AAA in 2019, he could get a callup in case of an emergency.

Chance Adams, meanwhile, took a step backward in 2018. He’ll probably start at AAA in 2019. He had one start (in Fenway) and two relief appearances for the Yanks in 2018, going 0-1, 7.04. He was 4-5, 4.78 in AAA in 2018 after going 15-5, 2.45 between AA/AAA in 2017. Back to AAA and hope for a rebound.

Then of course, we have Luis Cessa, 26, and A.J. Cole, also 26, neither of whom I am high on. I don’t know how many options Cessa has left. He was 1-4, 5.24, in 5 starts and 11 relief appearances with the Yanks in 2018 and is 5-11, 4.71 in his MLB career (19 starts, 24 relief appearances). Cole was 3-1, 4.26 for the Yanks, overall 4-2, 6.14 (Wash/NYY) in 2018. I can see both on the SWB/NYY shuttle or see both eventually DFA’d. Neither thrill me.

So a possible AAA rotation in 2019 could conceive of Loaisiga, Adams, King and Cessa, all “on the ready” for a callup in case of an emergency.

In AA, I can see Albert Abreu, 23, who was 4-6, 5.20, mostly at High A Tampa, and also Domingo Acevedo, 24, who was 3-3, 2.99, mostly at AA Trenton.

Garrett Whitlock, 22, I can also see at AA. He, like Deivi Garcia (see below), went through Low A, High A and AA last year, and he had a combined record of 8-5, 1.86.

Deivi Garcia, 19, went 5-4, 2.55 between Low A Charleston, High A Tampa and AA Trenton. I can see him starting out at High A Tampa. (The one game he DID pitch for AA Trenton last year had him pitching five no-hit innings and striking out seven!). But no use in rushing the kid, which is why I have him at A+ because he is 19, while I have Whitlock at AA because he is 22. The Yanks may think differently, however. Maybe both at AA, maybe both start at High A Tampa.

Two other pitchers I think could be targeted for AA are Nick Nelson, 23, and Adonis Rosa, 24. Nelson went 8-6, 3.55 at all three levels, A, A+ and AA last year, while Rosa was 14-6, 3.93 between A+, AA and AAA last year.

So I have Cessa, Loaisiga, Adams, King, and maybe German or Cole at AAA, with either German or Cole having a chance to make the Yankees as a long man (of course, we have to see what other moves are made between now, November 25 and the start of spring training).

At AA, I have Nelson, Rosa, Abreu, Acevedo and Whitlock. Nick Green, 23, could also slot in here, or at A+. Last year, he went 8-7, 3.32 between Tampa (A+) and AA Trenton.

Deivi Garcia I have at A+.

So there is your depth for now. Maybe you can get a couple of prospects for Sonny Gray that you could fill in at Tampa along with Garcia.

Now for some bullpen guys.

J.P. Feyereisen, 25, I have going back to AAA. He was 6-6 there with a 3.45 ERA last year.

Anyelo Gomez, 25, only pitched in 7 games for AAA last year due to injury. 0-1, 2.45. So back to AAA for him.

Raynel Espinal, 27, was 7-2, 3.09 for SWB last year. Another reliever at AAA waiting for the call.

James Reeves, 25, 2-2, 2.88 between AA/AAA, could be a lefty in the AAA bullpen.

A lefty at AA could be Phillip Diehl, 24, 2-3, 2.51 between A+ and AA.

Joe Harvey, 26, is on the Yanks’ 40 man roster, and was 3-2, 1.67 between AA and AAA last year and if he doesn’t make the Yanks, should start the year at AAA.

So there is a lot of pitching in the minors, and we’ll see in 2019 which pitchers separate themselves and really show the potential.

Getting off of pitching for one moment, it’ll be interesting to see how infielder Thairo Estrada does next year. Estrada, 22, hit .301 for Trenton in 2017 but missed most of last year after getting shot in the leg during the 2017-2018 offseason.

Another free agent pitcher to keep an eye on: Japan is expected to post Yusei Kikuchi, 27, a lefty who in Japan has gone 74-48, 2.81. Last year, 2018, he went 14-4, 3.08. The Yanks have interest, but even though the Yanks have had success with Tanaka, when I think of Japanese lefties, the nightmare of Kei Igawa crosses my mind. We’ll see.









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