Last week we looked at the Yankees best minor league performances by position players this season. Today we’re shifting to the pitchers. This was a season of disappointment for the organization’s biggest-name pitching prospects. Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos went down with elbow injuries and Dellin Betances took a giant leap backwards, leaving a few other names to step forward and grab a share of the spotlight. Just like last week, I’m only picking from the guys who played in full-season leagues this year. The level listed is where they finished the regular season.
He was the Indians 48th-round pick in 2009, the Yankees signed him in 2011 and this year he went 10-6 with a 2.54 ERA between Tampa and Trenton. He struck out 126 and walked 33. Most of that success came in Double-A, and even thought he was rocked in the Triple-A playoffs, Nuno arrived like some sort of magic act. He was good in limited duty last season, but this year’s numbers stand out, especially the organization’s best ERA and the organization’s most strikeouts.
He missed some time from the middle of May to the middle of June, but otherwise Turley took another step forward with a 2.89 ERA and .235 opponents’ batting average in High-A. He finished with a late promotion to Double-A, which is good for a guy who needs to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter. Turley was a late-round pick only because of signing issues, so he shouldn’t be overlooked.
Good last year and even better this year, Marshall spent the season generating groundballs and pitching to a 3.52 ERA in Trenton. He was in big league camp this spring, and assuming a 40-man spot and a role in Triple-A next year, he could be fall into that Phelps/Warren/Mitchell role as a guy who could get an opportunity as either a spot starter or long man. It would be up to him to run with it.
His 2010 seemed promising, his 2011 was a disaster and this year was another step in the right direction. Ramirez has a big fastball, and in this season’s second half he pitched to a 2.17 ERA with a .205 opponents’ batting average. Ramirez hasn’t really stuck on the prospect radar because he hasn’t found much consistency — and it’s still hard to know what to expect from him — but he hasn’t gone away either.
Trying to pick five rotation standouts from the minor league system leaves plenty of snubs. Matt Tracy, Bryan Mitchell and veteran Ramon Ortiz deserve a mention, but I’ll give this spot to Warren because he put some things together in the second half and regained the traction he lost before the All-Star break. Warren had a 2.98 ERA in the second half with improved strikeout and walk rates.
The orgnization’s pitching standout wasn’t a starter, it was Montgomery, the guy who struck out 99 batters and allowed just 35 hits in 64.1 innings between High-A and Double-A. He’s been compared to Dave Robertson, he’s reached Double-A fewer than two years after being drafted and could be on the fast track to the big leagues.
Huge strikeout totals for a second year in a row earned Kahnle an end-of-the-season promotion to Double-A, where he pitched three scoreless innings in the postseason. Most of Kahnle’s season was spent in Tampa where he had 72 strikeouts and allowed 30 hits through 55 innings. He also walked 24 guys. Last year he had 112 strikeouts in 81 innings, but that came with 49 walks. Cut down on the walks and his numbers would look a little bit like Montgomery’s.
Guys like Branden Pinder and Preston Claiborne had upper-level success, but it’s hard to overlook Guerra’s numbers with Low-A Charleston. Signed this spring after spending some time in the Twins minor league system, Guerra is 22 years old — so he’s old for the level — but he had 61 strikeouts, 16 walks and a .178 opponents’ batting average in Charleston. Can’t really declare this guy a standout prospect at this point, but the results are impressive.
Seemed like a bit of an odd choice for an invitation to big league camp this spring, but Cedeno proved himself when he went to Triple-A and held lefties to a .240 batting average with 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 26.2 innings. He led Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in appearances and might have gotten a shot in New York had Boone Logan or Clay Rapada stumbled.
Promoted aggressively, Whitley opened the season in Double-A and got to Triple-A after just four innings (during which he struck out seven and allowed one hit). When he got to Triple-A, Whitley became a multi-inning setup man who regularly pitched two innings at a time and went three and four innings several times. He didn’t have huge strikeout numbers — 66 in 80.1 innings in Triple-A — but he did hold opponents to a .213 batting average, and he allowed one run in his final 21.2 innings.