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Custom Nick Nelson Jersey Large

It’s almost been a calendar year since second-year cornerback Nick Nelson took a live snap in a regular season game, but he’s finally going to get his opportunity in 2019.

Throughout the week, Head Coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther indicated Nelson would potentially see some action this weekend, as the team plans to get a look at some of its younger talent.

The Oakland Raiders selected the former Wisconsin Badger in the fourth-round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the intent of making him one of their key nickel cornerbackss, given the lack of depth at the position. In college, Nelson was originally an outside cornerback and it’s where he became most comfortable, but proving his versatility was important to him as a rookie.

“He’s played some outside and some nickel last year,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Thursday. “You know we drafted him as an outside corner but we didn’t have any nickel depth, so we kind of said hey, that’s such a unique position in there, we kind of let him concentrate on that position.”

Nelson played in 10 games last year – primarily at the nickel position – getting his first action Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts, and later earning his first start Week 12 against the Baltimore Ravens. Statistically speaking, Nelson’s rookie year wasn’t as productive as he may have hoped, totaling 20 tackles, one pass defensed, and one fumble recovery, but it gave him the experience he needed as a raw talent.

Following the end of the season, Nelson knew he needed to improve in a lot of areas going forward, and he was anxious to get his chance to do so; however, at the end of training camp this year, the team waived Nelson, but eventually signed him to the practice squad.

Mentally, it’s hard to go from seeing extended playing time as a rookie to be placed on the scout team, but Nelson hasn’t looked at it that way.

“For one, being on the practice squad is kind of hard on your body because you get so many reps,” he said. “So, I feel like I’ll be in shape; my body [will] be physically ready. Practice squad is for you to get better, you’re going against the starters, the ones, every day. I just have to put it on the game field now.”

During his time on the practice squad, Nelson has appreciated the mentorship he’s received from many of the veterans in the Raiders’ locker room. The transition from outside cornerback to nickel, and now back to outside cornerback. might not seem overly complicated, but it’s not what Nelson was accustomed to prior to joining the Silver and Black, but the words of encouragement and guidance he’s received from some of the vets have helped him grow.

“Originally, I played corner in college, but my whole rookie year I played nickel, so wherever they put me at I feel like I’m comfortable,” Nelson said. “I had some good vets in front of me like Lamarcus [Joyner], Leon [Hall] last year, and Daryl [Worley] and Gareon [Conley]. I had some good vets to learn from, so I feel like wherever they put me at I feel comfortable at.”

In the past six months, Nelson has improved in zone coverage, man coverage, special teams, and just understands the game better than he did a year ago. Nelson is ready to capitalize on his opportunity and apply his newfound knowledge on the field.

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Custom Miguel Yajure Jersey Large

The 2019 MLB trade deadline is tomorrow! This year’s new single deadline means that the Yankees would have to make a lot of moves quickly to both get a starting pitcher, reliever, or just add to their international free agent bonus pool. One way they have been able to pull off such moves was to trade from the tremendous number of minor leaguers that will become eligible for the Ruel 5 draft, thus saving the team from having to find a spot on the 40-man roster.
This year is no different as New York has many players who will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time this December. That includes the top three prospects I the system in the persons of right-handed pitchers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, and outfielder Estevan Florial. Add in addition to names like Michael King, Nick Nelson, Miguel Yajure and Ben Ruta who will also become eligible this year there are multitudes of players who were eligible in previous seasons who are eligible. That includes names like Kyle Holder, Brody Koerner, Dermis Garcia, Chris Gittens, Ryan McBroom, and more.

RHP Deivi Garcia started for the Trenton Thunder in the spring training game. (Robert M. Pimpsner)
Say nothing about the players that will be heading to minor league free agency after this season. Some notable names from that list include left-handed pitcher Anderson Severino, right-handed pitcher Raynel Espinal, and outfielders Alexander Palma and Rashad Crawford.
Severino, 24, made some headlines this past swing with his solid performances for the Yankees in the grapefruit league. The Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic-native has only appeared in nine games this season, mostly with the Tampa Tarpons due to injury. But the big-time fastball and national notoriety he achieved could be enough for the Yankees to take a flyer and protect him. Or ship him today in a deal.
With no doubt, the Yankees have some interesting names that could be on the move in December if they are not protected in some way, either by being added to the MLB 40-man roster or on the Triple-A reserve roster.
James Reeves is one candidate that could benefit major league teams looking for a near MLB-ready lefty reliever. With all the arms in the Yankees organization, Reeves has been buried, spending most of the last four seasons in Double-A after being drafted in the 10th round of the 2015 draft. In 60 Double-A games, he owns an 8-4 record with a 2.25 ERA and 133 strikeouts over 108 innings.
Other potential near MLB-ready prospects includes guys like Adonis Rosa, Daniel Alvarez, Brooks Kriske, Brody Koerner, David Sosebee, and Kyle Holder. Out of everyone included in that list, only Holder is a position player. The former first-round pick has long had the MLB-caliber defensive ability but this season he has managed to break out with the bat. Overcoming a horrible April where he hit .175/.246/.206 in 16 games, he is now hitting .273/.332/.431 for the entire season over 83 games. He has already set a new career-high in home runs (7), triples (3), doubles (22) and is on pace to beat his career-high in RBIs and walks.
If the Yankees do not make a move, you can bet they will project their top three prospects. Luis Gil, Estevan Florial, and Deivi Garcia all become eligible for the first time this year and are deserving of protection. Right-hander Michael King is now healthy and pitching and could find himself a candidate for an MLB role in September if need be. If those four are not traded and they are protected that would leave several other quality arms available for the draft.
Nick Nelson and Miguel Yajure would be the top names to look for in December. Yajure has quietly had his best season as a professional. The 21-year old is 6-6 with a 2.20 Era over his first 18 games of the season. He has thrown a career-high 102 1/3 innings and struck out a career-high of 94 batters.
Many lower-level prospects will also become available this year, including Oswaldo Cabrera, Donny Sands, Wilkerman Garcia, Diego Castillo, and Pablo Olivares. None of them are likely to be selected in the major league phase of the draft but if left off the Triple-A reserve roster would be a good addition to any other organizations minor league ranks.
There is plenty of talent in the group of players that will be eligible for this year’s Rule 5 draft that the Yankees can trade them for either a pitcher or international free agent cash.
Check out our player database for the rule list of Yankee’s minor leagues who will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year.

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Custom Michael King Jersey Large

POPLARVILLE, Miss. (PRCC Athletics) – Seth Smith’s first staff at Pearl River is beginning to take shape. The new Wildcat head coach has announced the addition of Michael King as offensive coordinator. King will also coach the quarterbacks and running backs.

“Offensively, Michael is innovative and his concepts mesh with what we want our brand of football to be at Pearl River Community College,” Smith said.

The hire signals a move away from the three-back, run-heavy system that helped make Smith so successful during his tenure at East Central High School.

“For seven years at East Central we were a ground-and-pound, physical offense that tried to out-will people. Moving to this level, it’s important to modernize with the new spread concepts but also match our physical mentality,” he said. “Michael is a perfect fit and his systematic concepts can match our physical mentality.”

King joins PRCC’s staff after spending his previous three years as Greene County High School’s head coach. Between 2017-19, King compiled a 28-10 overall record. His Wildcats won the Region 7-4A Championship this season.

“He took over a team that before he got there went 1-9, 1-9, 4-7 and he immediately flipped the program, flipped the culture and got them into the playoffs,” Smith said of King’s Wildcats, who were 11-2 in his debut and then posted records of 9-4 and 8-4 the last two seasons.

Smith said he knew he had the perfect guy for the job after seeing how King adjusted Greene County’s attack following the injury to his starting quarterback. King moved a position player to QB and GCHS didn’t miss a beat.

“It was clear then that he could put a kid in who wasn’t a quarterback and develop him into a good passer,” Smith said. “What he did under those circumstances was impressive.”

GETTING THE CHANCE

King said the opportunity to join Smith’s staff was too good to pass up.

“In 15 years this is the first time an opportunity like this has presented itself and there’s no guarantee that in another 15 years a similar opportunity would come along,” King said. “I felt like knowing Coach Smith and having the respect I have for him and what he’s done as a football coach that I’d have been crazy to turn down the opportunity.”

Having coached against one another at the prep level, King said a mutual admiration between the two coaches was formed years ago. That respect helped pave the way for King to join Smith’s staff.

“He was always real complimentary of our style of football and so when he called and asked if I’d be willing to come and implement that style, I knew he meant it,” King said. “I knew I wanted to get on board with him. What he does as a motivator is unlike many I have ever been around.

“With my approach to football and his approach to football, we thought it would be a good combination.”

CLIMBING THE RANKS

Prior to taking over Greene County, King was the offensive coordinator at George County between 2014-16 and the OC at Greene County from 2010-13.

In 2012, his Wildcats won the South State Championship.

STANDOUT WR

Prior to getting into coaching, King was a standout on the gridiron. A George County graduate, King was a two-year starter at Gulf Coast Community College before moving on to Belhaven. While with the Blazers, King flourished at receiver. He was a Second Team Mid-South All-Conference selection in 2002 and First Team Mid-South All-Conference pick in 2003. King was also named an All-American.

King is still in Belhaven’s record books. His 1,068 receiving yards in ’03 are the fifth-most in a single season in Belhaven history. His 86 receptions in ’03 set a school record and led the NAIA. During his two seasons with the Blazers, King recorded nine 100-yard receiving games, which is fourth in program history.

Michael and his wife, Danielle, have three children, Madison (15), Coby (13) and Malorie (9).

King has an associate degree from MGCCC; bachelor’s in Sports Administration from Belhaven; and a master’s in Secondary Education from William Carey.

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Custom Luis Medina Jersey Large

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalry is one of the most profound rivalries in all of sports. With hundreds of years worth of competition with tensions rising far higher than the boiling point, this is a rivalry that defines baseball and transcends sports in its entirety.

However, the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry also has fans of both teams going at each other over which team has the brightest future. At the end of the day, both fanbases want bragging rights for years to come over their inferior.

In any case, when comparing and discussing prospects, it makes more sense to compare positional players to fellow positional players, likewise for pitchers. For that purpose, I will be doing the Top 3 Positional Players and Pitching prospects within each organization.

This article specifically will be discussing the Top 3 Pitchers within both organizations

For many teams, having a healthy crop of young pitchers with positive upside is crucial to long term success. Every Free Agency will feature far more competent hitters than it will feature skilled arms. With the 2019 FA market, the top four for Starting Pitchers are Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, and the now signed Zack Wheeler. Those pitchers are all fantastic options, but the drop off from Strasburg to Bumgarner and even Wheeler (yes, he did have a tremendous 2019) is a large one. Now, for the positional players, there are more than enough competent bats and capable gloves on the market. With players like Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, Brett Gardner, and Nicholas Castellanos all available.

While the pitchers, as mentioned earlier, are — as a whole last year — better than their hitting counterparts, the difference is that after those four pitchers, the market is rather barren. Even Cole Hamels signed a contract worth a hefty $18,000,000. It is to the point where the Angels are panicking and acquired the Baltimore Orioles’ pet-project that’s been long overdue, Dylan Bundy. Whereas with the available position players after Castellanos (who I think is the second-best positional player available behind Rendon), you have Edwin Encarnacion, Robinson Chirinos, Todd Frazier, and more for your power needs and wants. If you’re in need of positional services from a utility type player, there’s Brad Miller, Cesar Hernandez, Eric Sogard, and even Ben Zobrist available.

The point here is that it is way more investing and a far bigger gamble to spend big on pitchers than it is on an offensive player who will sign a massive contract, but with the intent to play 162 games. The better teams in the league are the ones that find ways to produce talent within, especially out of their pitching crop. Take the Dodgers, Yankees, Nationals, Cardinals, and a handful of others, that can do that to a tee, and see results from it.

The Top 3 Pitching Prospects (New York Yankees)
Now, the New York Yankees have always prided themselves on young guns that have the potential to be great. In years past, we have seen the talented arms of Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Manny Banuelos, David Robertson, David Phelps, and many more, prosper in the Yankees minor league systems. For many teams, having a healthy crop of young pitchers with that upside is crucial to long term success, as mentioned prior. The Yankees have made a living off of producing talent in the pitching department, and have brought in Matt Blake from Cleveland to develop the young guys further, and help James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka find their consistency. Blake is a guy who is said to be “ahead of his time” and one of the Yankees’ newfound assets for the pursuit of Gerrit Cole, and future pitchers as well.

This crop of young and talented minor league arms within the Yankees organization might be as gifted as its ever been. Pair that with the arrival of Blake, the already talented MLB Rotation and Bullpen, and the Yankees appear to be locked and loaded for 2020.

1. DEIVI GARCIA (RHP, 20, ETA: 2020, 2019 Fangraphs FV: 50)
At the top of that crop of talented arms, and the top of the list for both teams’ pitching prospects, is Deivi Garcia. Garcia is basically a Marcus Stroman clone on the mound in stature and delivery. Standing 5’9 and weighing 185 lbs, he may not be massive in his size, but his delivery and stuff is next level. Signed back in 2015 for $200,000 at the age of 16, Garcia has been the Yankees’ prize, and a project of their’s for years now. He entered 2018 as the team’s 11th ranked prospect, but it looks like he’ll repeat as the Yankees top-ranked prospect coming into 2020.

Garcia throws a plus fastball that touches 96 and 97 frequently and blows by hitters. The fastball rises in the zone, and across both High A and AA baseball, his K/9 was roughly 15.5, which exceeded Gerrit Cole’s MLB high of 13.82. Yes, the level of competition is far and in between, but this kid has electrifying stuff, and his slider and curveball combo reminds me of Luis Castillo’s.

Those two pitches that he sprinkles in with his fastball are what allow him to throw that high fastball so often. Being only 20 years old comes with a lot of inexperience, and despite the astonishing K numbers, he did walk 4.2 batters per nine innings, which shows that his style of pitching is sporadic, and that control is a bit of an issue up to this point in his career. Deivi is beginning to become more of a household name across all of baseball, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cashman contemplates adding another piece via trade, Garcia is one of the first names asked about. With that being said, I wouldn’t give up Deivi Garcia unless it’s for a game-changing player, this kid can become something special.

2. LUIS GIL (RHP, 21, ETA: 2020/2021, 2019 Fangraphs FV: 45)
The number 2 and 3 SP prospects for the Yankees are honestly up for grabs between three or four arms: Luis Gil, Albert Abreu, Luis Medina, and Clarke Schmidt. For me, Luis Gil is the number two arm in the system because of his tremendous upside, his build (6’3, 180), and his talent as well. Luis Gil’s style of pitching reminds me of Carl Edwards Jr. which may be alarming to those reading this article now, but when CEJ came up for the Cubs, he was lethal for three seasons with them. Across ’16-’18 Edwards pitched 154.1 innings, and never posted a K/9 under 11.0 in any of those three years, and finishing all three years with a FIP sub 3.50.

Last season in A baseball, Luis Gil saw a very similar season to that of Garcia. He blew people away with his plus fastball — 60/70 according to Fangraphs 2019 report — en route to a 12.14 K/9 paired with a 2.39 ERA across 83 innings. However, just like Garcia, he struggled to limit the walks, with a BB/9 of 4.27 during that season. He has all the tools to be something special and looks to build on his strong 2019 and continue to rise up the Yankees prospect rankings. If the Yankees are to be cursed with the injury bug again next year, Gil could possibly see himself come up as a spot starter, or as Bullpen help.

3. LUIS MEDINA (RHP, 20, ETA: 2021+, 2019 Fangraphs FV: 45)
Luis Medina is one of the more balanced pitchers out of the Yankees flurry of talent in the minor leagues. His fastball is astonishing, as he’s touched 102 already, and that leads to an impressive K/9 of roughly 10.5 across 103.2 total innings between A and High A baseball. While he’s very similar to both Gil and Garcia, in that he walks a decent amount of batters per nine — at essentially half his K/9 — around 5.5. Medina’s got the talent, and definitely has the stuff, but the walks are going to bite him and seemingly be an issue for some time to come. In 2018, the story was no different, as his BB/9 (11.5) matched his K/9 (11.75), leading to a horrendous 6.25 ERA across 36.0 IP.

With that, however, Medina does show promise in that his HR/9 in 2018, despite those terrible numbers, as it sat at 0.75. In 2019, in a bigger sample size, he showed again, the ability to limit the long ball — at 0.79 across those 103.2 IP. Medina could be something special, but ultimately the only way for him to ever improve or challenge for a spot in the Yankees rotation is if he limits the walks. His stuff is electrifying, but I think he’s destined for a bullpen role. That’s not a knock on Medina, as much as it is an encouraging thought. Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, David Phelps, and many more all started off as SP’s, but transitioned into the pen and became far more lethal. A similar track could be in Medina’s future.

The Top 3 Pitching Prospects (BRS)
The Boston Red Sox farm as a whole has been slowly drying up over the past couple of seasons, as Boston flipped on the “WIN NOW” switch, and did so a couple of seasons ago. Boston accomplished the goal of that mentality, as they took home the 2018 World Series Trophy. However, 2019 for Boston was the complete opposite, as they missed the playoffs entirely. Ever since trading away numerous prospects in exchange for Chris Sale back in December of 2016, Boston has been watching their internal options becoming less and less helpful longterm. In that 2016 trade, Boston sent the at-the-time “prospect demi-god” Yoan Moncada, who is now one of many valuable and talented offensive pieces for the White Sox, which immediately knocked Boston’s farm down heavily. Add on to that the loss of the talented Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz in that same deal, and at that point, Boston’s farm system was looking drier than a Summer afternoon in the Sahara.

With that being said, Boston’s developed some talented pitchers over the years, and there can never be any guarantees with prospects, nor are prospect rankings written in stone. The Red Sox’s rotation appears to be one of the biggest problems going into the 2020 season, so it is more than likely that at least one of these three guys could be seen in the big leagues.

1. BRYAN MATA (RHP, 20, ETA: 2020/2021, 2020 Fangraphs FV: 45+)
Bryan Mata is by far the Boston Red Sox best-pitching prospect when you take into account just how young he is. Being only 20 years old, Mata has had his fair share of troubles, as he was thrown into full-season baseball at 18 years old. Mata has great stuff, including a 99 MPH fastball that moves more like a sinker. However, Mata has struggled to find his stride and has struggled tremendously, consistently throwing strikes, similar to Medina. Mata’s 2018 season saw a 17% BB Rate, for comparison Medina’s 2018 in which he walked nearly 12 batters per nine, was at 25%. The difference, Medina’s K% was 25.5%, whereas Mata’s was 18.7%.

Mata can become something special for Boston; however, I’d say that despite his filthy sinker, he struggles to find his second pitch and figure out which one of his other pitches can be that go-to out pitch. His ERA before his 2019 season at AA was sub 3.50 cumulative, so there is evidence that he can continue to improve each year.

2. NOAH SONG (RHP, 22, ETA: N/A, 2020 Fangraphs FV: 45)
Boston is in an interestingly awkward situation regarding Noah Song. While Song has had hardly any time spent with the Red Sox themselves, he is one of their most electrifying talents and could be a considerable addition to their team in the future. However, the situation is that Noah Song committed to serve two years for the US Navy, but there is now uncertainty as to whether or not he is going to be required to serve those two years. With that being known, and Song’s future being unknown, that hurts his value and poses tons of question marks about him.

His stuff, however, appears to be lethal. There’s a reason Boston took that gamble on him, and if it pays off — and he ends up being what they expect him to — he could be a strong force in the AL East for years to come. He did show the talent in his short stint with Boston’s Low A affiliate, the Lowell Spinners, last year. Across 17.0 IP, he had a 29.2% K Rate to a 7.7% BB rate, with a 1.06 ERA.

3. TANNER HOUCK (RHP, 23, ETA: 2020, 2020 Fangraphs FV: 40)
Tanner Houck’s delivery reminds Boston management and ownership of that of Chris Sale, so that alone is enough to give this kid a shot. However, as for the rest of the league, there are doubts about that delivery, and whether or not his arm action and overall stuff can keep up in the Major Leagues. Those doubts were mainly prevalent when he was drafted, despite his stellar showing with Team USA prior. He offers a sinker/2-seam mash-up pitch that he slings in the low 90’s, and a slider that is devastatingly difficult for righties to hit. With that being said, the issue with Houck is that he doesn’t seem set to be a starting pitcher long-term. Worries about his arm action, as well as the fact that his stuff is far better only seen one time through the lineup, don’t pair well for him as a long-term option in the rotation.

Houck’s career is, in a word, average up to this point. While he’s flashed signs of being something great, with a 10.02 K/9 to 3.22 BB/9 in his first trial with the organization in 2017 across low A, he’s taken steps backward since then. The strikeouts have gone down (hasn’t posted K/9 over 10.0 since then), and the walks have gone up (over 4.00 BB/9 since then). Houck could end up being a tremendous middle reliever thanks to his swooping arm dynamic, but ultimately his stuff screams average.

The End Verdict
While there are never any guarantees with prospects, as mentioned before, the Yankees have made it a priority to preserve the future, especially when it comes to pitching. If the Yankees want to learn anything from years past, its that internal options are the best options. A few of the names of homegrown Yankee arms in years past include Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Domingo German, Phil Hughes, and of course, Andy Pettitte.

With the flourish of talent the Yankees have within their organization, the sky is the limit for them. Focusing on the development within has given them the edge over the majority of MLB teams, Boston included when it comes to Farm System discussions. When it comes to discussing the overall player production and quality within those Farms, the Yankees are one of the best in all of the league.

Boston undoubtedly will do everything in their power to field the best team possible come this year, and for all of eternity. The only way for Boston to truly challenge the Yankees’ Farm system would be if they were to trade away current pieces — like Mookie Betts who will most likely not be with the club come 2021, as salary problems could be prominent for Boston with JD Martinez, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, and others under contract — for prospects.

The New York Yankees have most definitely flipped that “WIN NOW” switch that Boston hit in 2018, but they’re doing so gently and slowly. While they’re pushing for a World Series Title, Brian Cashman knows how vital youth development is to the longevity and well-being of a franchise.

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Custom Luis Gil Jersey Large

It’s Winter Meetings Eve, and if this were 2017 or 2018, you’d find me hoping and praying that the annual jamboree would mean the beginning of hot stove season.

This year, however, things look a lot less bleak on this front. There’s already been quite a bit of activity around the league. The Reds and Padres are intent on pushing in the chips for immediate contention, while the White Sox are deploying a slightly less aggressive version of the same strategy. One of the better free-agent pitchers on the market, Zack Wheeler, is already off the board and headed to Philly.

We are still waiting for the Yankees to make a big move. They have already met with both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg to pitch why New York would be the best fit for them, and the proclamation from ownership that the record deal for Cole will be there provided he wants to come to New York is about as encouraging as we could hope for at this point.

But the Yankees are still a different team than they were at the end of their playoff run. They’ve made coaching changes, they’ve issued statements on their farm system through their choices of Rule 5 protections, and they’ve waved goodbye to disappointing veterans and longtime prospects alike. Let’s take a look at the first month-plus of the Yankees offseason, offer some takes about what they’ve done, and make some predictions for the future.

STAFF: ROTHSCHILD OUT, BLAKE AND SWANSON IN
I wrote some commentary on the departure of Larry Rothschild and the arrival of Matt Blake when it happened about a month ago. My basic conclusion was that the choice seemed like a good one, but there wasn’t enough information available for a definitive conclusion. With the passage of time, we’ve learned a bit more – and at this point, I’m comfortable enough to say that I love this move, and I think it’s the most important thing the Yankees have done so far in the offseason. For one thing, Blake was part of the delegation that flew out to California to visit with Cole and Strasburg, along with Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, and Andy Pettitte (!!). It’s encouraging that the team would make Blake a part of the pitch team, so to speak, for what could be its most important free agent signings in years.

Additionally, for those with Athletic subscriptions, Lindsey Adler recently sat down with Blake for an interview. These Q&As with new hirings and signings tend to be pretty formulaic; the addition will offer some compelling rhetoric about loving the organization, being happy to be there, and being confident and optimistic about the future. But Blake didn’t stop at the pleasantries. With considerable assistance from Adler’s incisive questioning, Blake gave us a great look at who he is as a person and a coach, and I came away very impressed. He stressed his college education in psychology and philosophy as part of what makes him effective at the jobs he’s held. He feels comfortable connecting with personalities and building relationships, something that’s just as important as the technical and analytical acumen he also clearly brings to the position.
From both a fan-excitement and a baseball operations perspective, I see nothing not to like about Blake, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with the staff.

Much of the same commentary applies to the decision to bring on Tanner Swanson as catching coordinator. Fresh off two seasons with the Twins, Swanson delivers an excellent resume. At his prior job, Adler reports (again, subscription required), he was instrumental in the development of Mitch Garver from below-average defensively to one of the better backstops in baseball. Crucially, the numbers suggest that Garver was able to improve tremendously in his framing without sacrificing his blocking skills. Provided Swanson is able to work the same magic with Gary Sánchez, the Kraken makes the jump from All-Star power hitter and defensive liability to possibly the best catcher in the game. My heart flutters just thinking about it.

Swanson also received glowing praise from colleagues and former players at the University of Washington, where he coached before moving to the Twins. “At the college level, we’re all teachers – Tanner redefined that” (head coach Lindsay Meggs), and “I’ve never had a coach that was more…invested in me, personally” (former Huskies catcher and current Tigers prospect Joey Morgan) are two of the soundbites from Bradford William Davis’ reporting that stand out. Much like Blake, Swanson seems to have a handle on the technical attributes of his job while combining a sense for people that elevates him from a good coach to an inspiring leader. Get excited.

ROSTER: 40-MAN MOVES, DEPARTURES, AND A TRADE
Decisions were made with regard to the on-field product as well. On November 20, the Yankees added seven minor leaguers to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place on the final day of the upcoming Winter Meetings. Three of the selections were more or less obvious: Estevan Florial, Deivi Garcia, and Luis Gil, three of the consensus best prospects in the system, were protected. Garcia exploded onto the scene this season and solidified his credentials as the system’s best pitcher, while Gil also cashed in a solid campaign with Charleston. Florial’s injury issues and slipping production has affected his value, but the raw tools are still present, and his 2020 will be crucial.

The other four protections are a mixed bag of possibilities and potential. The headliner of the group is Luis Medina. The 20-year-old righty flamethrower is a guy who was talked about like Garcia just a couple of seasons ago, but issues with command had caused his star to fade. In April and May, Medina didn’t inspire much confidence. His K/BB ratios in those months, respectively: 15/13 and 19/23. Not good! But in June, Medina turned a corner. The ratios in the subsequent three months look like this: 28/14, 36/14, 29/6. His OPS allowed: .724, .650, .387. Medina sparkled so brightly for Charleston as the season reached the stretch run that he earned two starts in Tampa at the very end of the year. And he acquitted himself beautifully – particularly in the first, in which he tossed five innings and allowed a single earned run while striking out eight and walking one.

Miguel Yajure, another righty starter with worlds of potential, pitched his way onto the protected list with a strong showing for Tampa, where he posted a 2.26 ERA. Like Medina, Yajure earned a late-season cameo with the next rung on the ladder. In two starts for Trenton, he struck out a batter per inning and allowed just one run. Brooks Kriske and Nick Nelson, the last two prospects protected, are on the older side (Kriske is 25, Nelson is 24). But both submitted solid campaigns at the Double-A level and look forward to futures as bullpen options and depth pieces.

So where’d they find the room? Yankees brass had to make some space to protect these seven youngsters in the form of three additional roster spots. First up was the much-anticipated release of Jacoby Ellsbury, who takes his place in the pantheon of terrible free-agent signings and may very well have a shelf in the cabinet all his own. Word out of the organization is that, based on an allegation of breach of contract, the Yankees are trying to avoid paying Ellsbury the salary for his one additional year of entitlement. A fitting mess to conclude a horrific situation. The Ellsbury fiasco has been a nightmare since news of the awful contract first broke, and I don’t think the team is doing itself any favors by pressing this issue. Ellsbury isn’t the one that offered the bad deal, and he’s a client of Scott Boras, a man the Yankees need on their side this offseason.

Much more disappointing, albeit understandable, was the decision to finally part ways with erstwhile top prospect Greg Bird. Bird was the first member of the first wave of the Baby Bombers to make his way to the big leagues, and scarcely a fan has forgotten the magic that followed. He surged onto the scene in August of 2015, then just 22 years of age, and crushed 11 homers in 46 games, solidifying himself as the heir apparent to Mark Teixeira and endearing himself to fans with his sweet lefty swing and an odd hairless cat. It still pains me to write that those few months were the best it would ever get for Bird in pinstripes. He lost the entire 2016 season due to injury, then suffered another setback in Spring Training of 2017 that cost him nearly that entire season as well. And with the exception of his scoreless tie-breaking home run in Game 3 of the memorable 2017 ALDS, Bird hasn’t hit a lick in years, all while failing to stay on the field. It just wasn’t meant to be for Bird in New York. I genuinely wish him all the best moving forward, and I hope he finds a spot on a big-league roster somewhere. He’s certainly got the talent to make a living in this game.

Finally, as a footnote, the Yankees designated Nestor Cortes Jr. for assignment and eventually traded him to Seattle for international bonus money. Nasty Nestor shuffled and slide-stepped his way into our hearts this past season, not only because of his badly-needed innings eating but also with his arm slot changes, funky deliveries, and willingness to ride the Scranton Shuttle back and forth for weeks on end.
Cortes faltered towards the end of the season but is a useful pitcher who will find a job somewhere, even if it means playing the Triple-A swingman role. It’s not sexy, but it’s important, and Cortes did it as well as anyone.

LOOKING AHEAD
Those of you expecting a spicy take in here somewhere are going to come away disappointed. I can’t find a reason to dispute any of the moves the Yankees have made thus far this offseason. Blake and Swanson were excellent hires, the right 40-man protections were made, and the decision to say goodbye to Ellsbury, Bird, and Cortes were well-founded. The first weeks of a critical period were handled with the competency that we all expect and deserve. With the word out that the Yankees are going to be serious suitors for the top free-agent starting pitchers, there is a reason to be optimistic that the team is setting itself up to maximize its open championship window. While we wait for the big dominoes to fall, we can take solace in the fact that the brass is taking care of business for now.

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Custom Estevan Florial Jersey Large

Since David Stearns let the baseball marketplace know that All-MLB reliever Josh Hader is available for the right price, a number of teams have reportedly expressed interested in finding out just what that price might be. The New York Yankees have been said to the most aggressive in inquiring about Hader. Reports indicate that Stearns wants at least one top level prospect as part of a package that would come back. So let’s take a look at some of the pieces possessed by New York that might be of interest to the Brewers when it comes to the headliner of a hypothetical Hader swap.

The Yankees in particular have a mix of major league talent that has proven their ability on the big stage along with high-upside prospect talent that has a fair amount of risk attached. Five names that stand out are Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, Deivi Garcia, Jasson Dominguez, and Estevan Florial.

Miguel Andujar
Andujar put together a wonderful first season in Yankee pinstripes in 2018. He slashed .297/.328/.527 while collecting 76 extra base hits (27 home runs) and posting a 130 wRC+. Trying to play through a small labrum tear in his right shoulder, Andujar could only slash .128/.143/.128 in 12 games in 2019. The decision was made to have surgery on the shoulder causing him to miss the rest of 2019.

He will turn 25 in March, and he will not be eligible for free agency until 2023. With the emergence of Gio Urshela, Andujar becomes expendable for New York. With a gaping hole at third base in Milwaukee, Andujar would be a welcome addition. If such an acquisition were to occur, Andujar could be a middle-of-the-order bat that played in a Brewers’ uniform during the prime of his playing career.

Clint Frazier
Frazier was once the #1 prospect in New York’s system according to MLB Pipeline, ranking ahead of the likes of Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Andujar. He also headlined the trade that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland. Just for reference, that trade, which included two top-100 prospects, landed Miller’s services in Cleveland through 2018 for $21 million over that time for the league’s most dominant reliever when he was 31 years old.

Frazier has always been lauded for his tools. He was ranked the #15 prospect by MLB Pipeline in 2016 getting scouting grades of:

Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | OFP: 55

He has also demonstrated that he can get it done at the major league level. In 2019 he received 246 plate appearances slashing .267/.317/.489. He launched 12 home runs and posted a 108 wRC+. In an extremely crowded outfield, he gets limited opportunity and he might be getting a bit frustrated as a result. That frustration could be affecting minor league performance (170 wRC+ in 2018 in AAA as opposed to a 85 wRC+ in 2019 in AAA). When the outfielder was still a prospect, MLB Pipeline lauded his potential with the bat — “Frazier’s bat speed and raw power are among the best in the Minor Leagues and suggest the ceiling of an All-Star.” In an interview with Frazier, Joe Rivera covered his frustrations with being called up and sent down as well as his electric bat speed. What might he be if he get everyday at-bats?

Deivi Garcia
Garcia is currently the 62nd ranked prospect in baseball and top prospect in the Yankees system according to MLB Pipeline. His curveball has been his calling card as MLB Pipeline and Fangraphs give it a 65 future grade. Baseball America is a little less generous giving the pitch a 55 grade. Baseball America indicated that Garcia added a slider to his pitching repertoire midway through 2019 and placed a 60 grade on the pitch. His fastball is rated well too, earning grades of 55-60 depending on the scouting publication.

Garcia has excellent spin on both his fastball and curveball. His fastball plays up because of his outstanding spin rates. The 20 year old Dominican sits at 92-93 mph and can touch 97 mph. Garcia gets compared to Pedro Martinez likely because of his nationality, stuff, and slight frame. He is just 5’9” and 163 lbs, which is smaller than Martinez. There are not many starting pitchers that perform at a high level with his size. Marcus Stroman would be an exception. His size is where the great concern is, however if he could not make it as a starter, his stuff should play up in a big way in late inning relief.

As was mentioned previously, Garcia added a slider to his pitching mix. That pitch gave him a pitch that moves east to west in the zone. Every other pitch in his repertoire functioned from top to bottom in the zone. With the slider being such a highly rated pitch by Baseball America, he has three pitches graded out at 60 or above. Couple that with a change that grades as an average offering and control that grades 50-55, and Deivi Garcia probably deserves his top-100 ranking in MLB Pipeline, which also gives him a 55 OFP. Fangraphs placed a 50 OFP on Garcia.

Jasson Dominguez
Speaking of placing unreasonable expectations placed on a prospect, Dominguez gets compared to Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle. For a 16 year old kid, that has to be flattering but a difficult expectation to meet, especially when MLB Pipeline places his OFP at 55. He is called the “Martian” for his other worldly physical gifts. Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen did say that his package of tools brings big names like Bo Jackson, Yasiel Puig, and Yoan Moncada to mind.

At 5’10” and 190 lbs, the teenager hits from both sides of the plate and can play center field. The Yankees paid him $5 million to sign. MLB Pipeline grades the young man’s tools all between 55 and 60, making his 55 OFP seem a bit low. That is probably more a result of his youth — and therefore his risk — than his tools.

Hit: 55
Power: 55
Run: 60
Arm: 60
Field: 55
Baseball America sees Dominguez’ upside even more optimistically. He grades out at a 65 OFP and his tools grade as follows:

Hit: 60
Power: 70
Run: 70
Fielding: 60
Arm: 60
Scouts have stated that he regularly has exit velocities at 110 mph or above from both sides of the plate. Evidently he is very fast, as well. He ran 6.3 seconds in the 60 yard dash. For comparison, Billy Hamilton ran 6.2 seconds. If the Yankees actually think this kid is the second coming of Mike Trout, I cannot imagine they would part with him for any price. Yet you never know.

Estevan Florial
Florial has been a top-100 prospect according to MLB Pipeline since 2017 (#79 and #3 in the Yankees’ system in 2017, #45 and #1 in the Yankees’ system in 2018, and #82 and #3 in the Yankees’ system in 2019). He does not even get into Baseball America’s top 10 however after having him as the #1 Yankees’ prospect after the 2018 season and MLB’s #38 prospect in 2017. His 2019 performance and injuries might just pull him off all top-100 lists going into 2020, but the center fielder has some exciting tools. MLB Pipeline grades his tools as follows:

Hit: 45
Power: 55
Run: 65
Arm: 65
Field: 60
OFP: 55
Baseball America states, “Florial remains a tantalizing but risky combination of outstanding tools and limited refinement. He generates above-average power thanks to quick hands and above-average bat speed. He can drive the ball to left field and center nearly as easily as he yanks it over a right-field fence, but he needs to make solid contact more consistently.” The high risk player has a tendency to be aggressive, but did demonstrate more patience in 2018 where he walked 13% of the time.

The thought is if he can put it all together, he could be one of the more dynamic players in baseball. Putting it together means translating raw power into in-game power, improving angles and routes in the outfield (though it is said he is showing improvement), and acquiring better instincts on the base paths where his speed can be more of an asset. Not many have the potential speed, power, arm combination that Florial does, but he took a step back in 2019.

New York has a lot of high risk/high upside talent in their system. Clarke Schmidt offers the least risk and profiles as a mid-rotation starter. Luis Gil, Albert Abreu, Luis Medina, and Roansy Contreras all have big arms with huge upside. All of them have substantial risk to go along with them based on age and/or control and command issues. Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe are slick shortstops that are very young. This system is uber-deep with talented prospects that have one or more elite tools.

The Yankees are building a team that looks more like an X-Men movie than a baseball team. Josh Hader certainly fits that profile, and New York has to be enamored with the possibility of him in pinstripes. They also feel a pressure to win World Series titles beyond anything any other teams feels year over year, especially when they have not won one in some time. This might be the time to strike a deal with the evil empire, and Hader would be just the player the Yankees would want to “ensure” a World Series. They also have the pieces to entice the Brewers to part with the best reliever in baseball and possibly even overpay for his services.

By all indications, Stearns and Brian Cashman are talking. Now, whether anything comes to fruition…

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Custom Deivi Garcia Jersey Large

With the New York Yankees signing star pitcher Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract, the starting rotation is all but solidified. Rushing youth prospects up to the major-league level to feature in a starting role is not necessary during the 2020 season.

The Yankees have Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, both returning in a full capacity, as well as retaining Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and potentially J.A. Happ. Players like Deivi Garcia, one of the Yankees top pitching prospects, can take his time refining his abilities in the minor leagues.

Manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman protected García this off-season by adding him to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft. For those uninformed, the Rule 5 Draft allows lesser teams that cannot fill their 40-man roster to sign players from other farm systems. They pay a small fee for the players gained. García would undoubtedly be on the list of many teams looking to bolster their pitching prospects and potentially utilize him as a starter in 2020. The Yankees have bigger plans, though, for the undersized 5-foot-9 pitcher.

Garcia was elevated from A-Ball to AAA-Ball in just three months last season. He did struggle at the top minor league level, primarily due to do the differential in player quality and change in grips on the ball. However, he posted a 5.40 ERA, allowed 24 earned runs, eight home runs, all over 40 innings.

Those numbers aren’t noteworthy, but his elevation to the top level of the minor leagues would indicate he was fighting way above his weight class. Next season should be used as a developmental one and allow him to adapt to the quality in AAA. At only 20 years old, he has plenty of time to see progression and eventually make his major league debut.

There have been rumors that García could be on the trade block, especially if a highly touted relief option is on the line. However, I don’t believe general manager Brian Cashman is willing to deal the team‘s number one prospect anytime soon. We can expect García to be a Yankee for quite some time.

I anticipate the Yankees pulling Garcia up to feature in a bullpen role for a short amount of time, just to gauge his readiness to compete at the top level. There’s no indication they could exercise this idea; it all depends on his efficiency with Scranton.

EXTRA:

“What comes out of his arm is pretty special, and the Yankees are a very sort of trackman-focused team when it comes to all players,” said Keith Law from ESPN. “But they love their high-spin guys throughout their system. He’s a guy who has that and has command and has control. Which says to me, at least, they’re not going to hesitate to trust him with some kind of major league job by the end of the year.”

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Custom Brooks Kriske Jersey Large

Recently added to the Yankees 40-man roster, as to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, relief pitcher Brooks Kriske isn’t well known, but that may change very soon.
At 25, having only pitched 48.2 innings (36 games) at Double-A Trenton, right-handed relief pitcher Brooks Kriske is now a member of the Yankees 40-man roster.

While this isn’t the norm for someone that missed all of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 following Tommy John surgery, the Yanks feel they have something special in the 2016 sixth-round pick out of USC.

Beginning last season at High-A Tampa, Kriske opened eyes by not allowing a run in 12 innings (seven games). Surrendering just four hits, Kriske struck out 16, walked five, picked up one save, and featured a 2.14 FIP and WHIP of 0.750.

Soon promoted to Trenton in April, Kriske proved he was all the way back from TJ surgery. Going 2-2 with a 2.59 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 1.089 WHIP, and producing a 64:23 K:BB ratio, Kriske finished 21 games while saving 11.

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Furthermore, pitching at his highest minor league level thus far in his young career, Kriske gave up just 30 hits and three home runs. While there is still room to decrease his walk totals (3.7 BB/9), Kriske has a three-pitch big-league arsenal.

Adding an extra four-mph to his fastball that regularly reaches 97-mph, a sweeping slider, and a dazzling splitter that neutralizes left-handed hitters, Kriske credits Scott Aldred and Tim Norton with his rapid movement through the Yankees farm system.

Speaking with Sean Miller of NJ.com in July 2019, Kriske said:

“I added that splitter about a month ago, and I feel like for this last month, things have been going a lot smoother with that third pitch. That has been my main adjustment to the league, adding that pitch and giving guys some different looks off of me. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself with the slider, trying to make it probably better than it needs to be, and Scotty came out and said that it would help to neutralize lefties and could use it against righties as well. I was lucky that I got a pretty good feel for it quickly.”

Likely to begin next season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Kriske has only thrown 105.1 minor league innings (72 games) across parts of three seasons. Therefore, if he can better his command and control, there’s no reason why he can’t reach the big leagues at some point in 2020.

NEXT: Yankees interested in Royals reliever Tim Hill
RHP Brooks Kriske was a core member of the bullpen for the 2019 Eastern League Champion @TrentonThunder (AA). In 36 games, he pitched to a solid 2.59 ERA with a 11.8 K/9 rate; and he even tallied 11 saves. Here’s more on the 25-year-old California product: pic.twitter.com/5iUy8pfZxt

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Custom Giancarlo Stanton Jersey Large

The New York Yankees have had eager ears this offseason in search of instrumental pieces to bolster their team to ultimately propel themselves to the first World Series appearance in over a decade. The 2020 season is already held in high regard considering the behemoth signing of Gerrit Cole for nine-years, $324 million.

Owner Hal Steinbrenner and GM Brian Cashman have made it apparent they’re willing to drop their checkbook like a mic after a perfect comedy skit. The latest potential trade involves Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber, whose defensive issues are well documented, despite his quality offensive abilities.

Realistically, Schwarber has one characteristic that makes him an appealing option for the Bombers — he’s a slugger. The outfielder hit .250/.339/.531 with 38 homers and 29 doubles in 155 games last season. Replacing Edwin Encarnacion is a priority for the Yankees, who desire a productive home run hitter to slot in at the designated hitter position.

Alternatively, manager Aaron Boone could slide Giancarlo Stanton into the DH spot and utilize Schwarber in left field while Aaron Judge remains steady in right field and Brett Gardner holds down center in the absence of Aaron Hicks.

What would it take for the Yankees to land the 26-year-old?
The Cubs won’t let their top home run hitter go without receiving a promising package in return, which is where Miguel Andujar enters into the scenario. After missing all of 2019 with a torn labrum, Andujar is preparing to return and compete for the starting third base position.

With Gio Urshela already expected to start on the hot corner in 2020, Andujar has an uphill battle ahead of him. However, the Yankees could look to shop him in the coming weeks to add an essential power hitter to the lineup, a factor that has served them well in recent years.

This would also allow Stanton to focus on his hitting consistency rather than risking injury in the outfield. For the money the Yankees are paying, primarily for his offensive production, it makes sense to take the caution for injury out of the equation. Shwarber also adds a lefty bat to a predominantly righty hitting order.

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Custom Jordan Montgomery Jersey Large

Following the signing of Gerrit Cole, there may not be a spot within the starting rotation for when Domingo German returns from suspension.
Before the conclusion of this past season, Domingo German was placed on MLB’s administrative leave. Currently, the New York Yankees and German are waiting to hear from the league regarding his suspension for next season.

According to a New York Post report from Nov. 8, German’s case was in the final stages and could be resolved within a “matter of weeks.” However, it has been over a month since that article was published and there’s still no official suspension from the commissioner’s office.

While the 27-year-old has already spent 18 games on the league’s administrative leave (last nine regular season, nine postseason games), German was also paid during those final nine regular-season games. Meaning, in order for those nine games to count towards his suspension, the right-hander would likely need to pay back that portion of his $577.5K 2019 salary.

Whenever German returns, he may be forced to pitch from out of the bullpen through next season. Along with the Dominican righty, the Yankees have J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery as options for the fifth spot within their rotation.

For the sake of this article, let’s say that general manager Brian Cashman is successful with trading away Happ and his $17 million salary for next season. In doing so, that leaves just Montgomery and German to battle for that final spot.

With German likely to begin serving his suspension at the start of next season, Montgomery will likely serve as the fifth starter to begin the season. While he’s likely to open the season in the rotation, Montgomery will have a lot to prove in 2020.

The 26-year-old has spent the past two seasons recovering from his Tommy John surgery. Since his procedure back in June of the 2018 season, Montgomery has pitched a combined 7.2 innings across three different levels, including four innings with the Yankees in 2019.

This past season, the soon-to-be 27-year-old made a pair of appearances with the Yankees. During his four innings of work, Montgomery faced 19 batters and recorded a 6.75 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 3.20 xFIP, 1.75 WHIP, .368 OPP AVG, 26.3% strikeout rate and a 0.1 fWAR as well.

Prior to his TJ surgery, Montgomery was positioned within the middle of the Yankees’ rotation. Now, he has an opportunity to provide his team with quality results from the bottom of their rotation.

During his breakout 2017 season, Montgomery threw 155.1 innings and generated a 3.88 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 4.45 xFIP, 1.23 WHIP, .235 OPP AVG, 22.2% strikeout rate, 7.9% walk rate and a 2.6 fWAR. The right-hander also produced just an 11.2% HR/FB rate and a 26.5% hard-hit rate during the 2017 season. Based on his 9.7 HR/FB rate and a 28.4% hard-hit rate from 2018, Montgomery should be able to replicate these impressive numbers during next season.

Montgomery’s style of pitching should also match up extremely well at the bottom of the Yankees’ pitching rotation. Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, and James Paxton all feature 95-plus mph fastballs as their primary pitches. Only Masahiro Tanaka and Montgomery utilize breaking balls and offspeed pitches as their primary weapons.

Over the last two seasons, Tanaka’s slider has been his most effective pitch and the one he’s thrown the most out of all six of his pitches. As for Montgomery, his curveball generated a strikeout rate above 40% in each of his first two seasons in the majors (2017 and 2018), while also serving as his most utilized pitch as well.

Before his injury in 2018, Montgomery’s curveball induced a .147 AVG, .141 xAVG, .235 SLG, .240 xSLG and a .178 wOBA. After returning from his rehab assignment, Montgomery threw his curveball 30.5% and produced a .200 AVG, .369 xAVG .400 SLG, .884 xSLG, .247 wOBA, 20.0% strikeout rate and a 36.4% whiff rate over his four innings of work.

Even though his 2019 season concluded earlier than expected, German played a vital role for the Yankees. In place of Severino, German completed 143 innings and created a 4.03 ERA, 4.72 FIP, 4.22 xFIP, 1.15 WHIP, .227 OPP AVG, 25.8% strikeout rate, 6.6% walk rate and a 2.0 fWAR.

Gerrit Cole, Cole Train T-Shirt

Despite German’s impressive performance during this past season, Montgomery is a better fit for the rotation. Preventing home runs and hard-hit balls became a serious issue for German during this past season. The right-hander allowed an 18.8% HR/FB rate and a concerning 41.2% hard-hit rate in 2019.

Compared to Montgomery’s 9.7% HR/FB rate and a 28.4% hard-hit rate from the 2018 season, German just surrenders far too much hard contact, especially for a pitcher who plays in Yankee Stadium.

If moved to the bullpen, German would become the new “long man” for the Yankees, becoming a spot starter and someone who could throw multiple innings out of the bullpen as well.

With both Tanaka and Paxton slated to become free agents after next season, German’s transition into the bullpen would likely last just one season. However, if Montgomery struggles, or suffers another significant injury, German could slide right back into the rotation.

With that being said, all signs are pointing towards a spectacular comeback season for Montgomery in 2020.