The news was a little bit buried in the middle of last night’s game: The Yankees announced that Zach McAllister had been traded to the Indians as the player to be named later in the Austin Kearns deal.
My first reaction was absolute surprise. That’s a big name to be a PTBNL. McAllister is still just 22 years old and already has a full season of Triple-A under his belt. He had outstanding numbers in Double-A last year, and Baseball America ranked him the Yankees No. 5 prospect this winter. It’s not often a guy like that is traded away as a player to be named.
Twelve hours later, it’s less stunning.
Outside of spring training, I only saw McAllister pitch first-hand once. He came up for the Triple-A playoffs last year and more than held his own. He was never a guy who seemed to wow anyone with his stuff, but the results spoke for themselves. It wasn’t a fluke that he wound up so high on Baseball America’s list. He’s a better pitcher than this year’s 5.09 ERA in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre suggests.
That said, Ivan Nova clearly moved ahead of McAllister in the Yankees rotation the pecking order. David Phelps, Hector Noesi and Andrew Brackman — probably Adam Warren and maybe Lance Pendleton too — seemed to have passed him among the Yankees upper-level pitching prospects. Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Graham Stoneburner had clearly done the same in the lower levels.
The Yankees needed to protect McAllister from the Rule 5 draft this winter, and given such pitching depth, it might have been tough to find a spot for him on the 40-man. Don’t be surprised if he develops into a legit major league starter, but there’s enough pitching in the Yankees system that they could afford to lose him.