To get Frankie Montas, Lou Trevino, Andrew Benintendi and Scott Efros at the trade deadline last year, the Yankees used seven pitching prospects (and player Cooper Bowman).
To bring proven talent into this year’s trade deadline, the Yankees will likely once again rely heavily on a pipeline that never seems to clog.
No matter how many pitching prospects the Yankees run through, there always seems to be another minor league turnover ad or a dominant game piece waiting in the wings.
Some, like Michael King and Ron Marinaccio, have evolved into instrumental pieces in The Bronx. Some, like JP Sears of Oakland, grew up with the Yankees before being cashed out and getting their major league opportunities elsewhere.
This year is no different, and the Yankees’ merchandising pipeline is booming.
Entering play on Thursday, the Double-A Somerset staff led the Eastern League in strikeouts (868). High-A Hudson Valley also led its league in strikeouts, and was tied for first in team ERA (3.45). Systemwide, the Yankees prospects have averaged 10.5 batters per nine innings pitched, the best of any organization.
In this week’s newsletter, we took a trip to Heritage Financial Park, in Wappingers Falls, to chat with a few Hudson Valley luminaries who might help the Yankees in The Bronx in the future or might help the Yankees trade talks in the present.
Here are just a few of the prospects on the Yankees’ radar and certainly on other clubs’ radars:
Drew Thorpe: Going into a league game on Thursday, only five prospects in the game have hit more batters than Thorpe (111). In his first professional season, Right was as impressive as any player in the system, quickly showing why the Yankees snapped him from Cal Poly in the second round of last year’s draft.
Thorpe is 9-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 91 innings pitched, using a deep five-pitch arsenal to keep hitters balanced. In seven starts since June 4, Thorpe has allowed four total runs (for a 0.76 ERA). Thorpe throws a fastball, two sliders (one with more sweep, the other with more speed), a new cutter and Change it that generates whiff after whiff.
“It’s a good change because he stays on the same plane,” said Hudson Valley manager Sergio Santos (and former Yankees reliever). “Some changes have depth and movement; It continues almost the same way. It gives the illusion that there is a parachute behind it, where it is literally slowing down and continuing its course.”
Ranked sixth in the system by the MLB Pipeline, Thorpe prides himself on keeping hitters guessing rather than gassing them out—but he doesn’t mind augmenting his gas tank. His fastball is in the low 90s, but he said his speed has gone “a mile, a mile and a half” since his senior year of college.
The Yankees’ low minds are known for adding extra steam to their horizons, and Thorpe is an enthusiastic student.
“Philo isn’t exactly where I want him to be yet, but we’re still working on it,” said the 22-year-old, who describes himself as a quiet guy who plays golf in his spare time. “But I’ve always been a low-key guy, so I kind of learned how to play and I learned how to do it the other way. I think that’s something that will come in handy as the filo continues to climb.”
Brendan Beck: The most important thing for Beck and the Yankees is that he feels okay.
That it actually excels is a wonderful bonus.
Beck, in the second round in 2021, would require Tommy John surgery a few months after he was drafted, which knocked him out until this season. Making his professional debut in June, he started four games with Hudson Valley, building up to four runs in his final start on Wednesday.
In 14 Minor League innings, Right allowed one run (0.61 ERA) with only seven hits and three walks.
The results were in, but Beck became happier with the feeling that he was a healthy pitcher again.
“Honestly, getting back on the mound almost the same was a bigger hurdle than just being on the mound right now, and being competitive,” said Beck, the Yankees’ No. 23 seed, according to MLB Pipeline. “I feel like I’m on the hill, I feel just like I’ve ever felt before.”
It’s come back with a speed that “ebbs and flows,” as he puts it, and it’s understandable that he’s going down while he’s regaining strength. And he’s returned with all four of his courts—fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup—all reliable.
Beck, 24, has earned a reputation as an offensive pitcher at Stanford, a rare development prospect without the desperate need for better control.
“I kind of specialize in leadership,” Beck said, and cites his older brother, Giants’ Tristan Beck, as his biggest influence. “I feel like I can throw four pitches for a hit at any time. I don’t really feel like I’ve been trapped in a corner with a certain pitch. So I guess for me, just expect a fast pace, a lot of hitting, and use defense a little bit.”
So far, Beck has been announced. He won’t blow a lot of batters away, but he will get a lot of batters out.
“He’s a guy who knows how to throw the ball. Its location is excellent, Santos said. “He is putting himself in such good positions. He’s in control. Very intellectual jug. And a competitor too when he comes off the mound. He doesn’t want to give up any hits.”
Jack Neely: Thorpe and Beck might try to outsmart you. Nelly will try to outdo you.
He usually does.
“Just go in and kill them,” Neely said of opposing hitters. “This is my duty.”
The hard throwing right is an imposing arm right back with a solid fastball above the 90s he throws in the top of the area and a solid slider above the 80s he throws in the bottom. He missed changing colleges — ending his career at Ohio State — but the Yankees got his Arsenal back two pitches missing too many at bats.
Through 26 bullpen games, Neely has managed a 2.68 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched. He’s stretched, pitching as many as 2 innings in a match this season, and his abilities haven’t faltered: in his last seven attempts, on July 2, he hit all 7 batters he faced.
It’s not hard to imagine Indigo, a 6-foot-8, mustachioed monster with a big grin, in The Bronx among the next crop of bullpen guns.
“It’s fun to watch. He’s got an electric fastball, and he’s got that slider,” said Santos, a former fastballer. “He’s literally coming to me, to me [pitching coach] Preston [Claiborne], such as: “Hey, what have you guys done? What happened here?’
“He is curious enough to want all this information to make himself the best marksman he can.”
Neely, 23, credited Claiborne with the new slider, which required “10 or 15” grip adjustments in spring training to figure out. He said last year that sometimes the stadium would be 80 miles an hour. This year, it reaches speeds of 89 mph.
“This is definitely a killer pitch,” said Neely, a Texas native who is a hunter and fisherman. “This is it. I love him.”
🎙 Join us on Monday, July 24, for a live episode of the New York Post baseball podcast The Show with Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman previewing next week’s Subway series. This special event is free for all attendees. Doors open at 5pm at The Ainsworth (45 East 33rd St.) with the program starting at 6.
It’s easy to do
The Yankees’ new hitting coach, Sean Casey, said upon hiring him that he saw “tension” in the Yankees at bat.
Yankee Stadium can be a stressful place, where excellence is demanded and anything else frowned upon. It can be a challenging environment, especially for phone calls that haven’t been ridiculed before.
For skyrocketing prospects, Santos has made it a goal to strike a balance between a serious club and a fun one. He understands that pressure is there, but he doesn’t want to be overwhelmed.
After losing early in the season — “We blew it up by about 13 shots,” Santos said — he entered a quiet club.
“I think they thought I was going to yell or get angry,” Santos said. And I basically said, “Listen, the longer you play this game, the more you realize this kind of event is happening.” It’s part of the game.
“I said, ‘What we’re not going to do is be a team if we win, the music is in the club, everyone is having fun, when we lose, everyone is by their locker and nobody is talking. “
Request to restart the music in the club.
Want to pick up a game? The Yankees schedule can be found here with links to purchase tickets.
An offer he can’t refuse
This year’s Yankees first-round draft pick, George Lombard Jr., called it a “difficult” and “no-brainer” decision to turn down Vanderbilt and turn pro.
Lombard, the son of a former big-league player, is a short distance from Gulliver Prep School in Florida who made a Zoom call this week from Tampa, where he was socializing with prospective teammates and officials around the Yankees complex.
Being drafted by the Yankees “was about as perfect as it could have been,” said Lombard, who became the Yankees’ second-best draft pick (with Anthony Volpe) in four years to surpass Vanderbilt.
Lombard heard from Volpe, who sent a message of congratulations. Here’s Lombard’s scouting report, courtesy of Lombard:
“Shortstop. Basically healthy. Sports player in general. Smart baseball player. “A good baseball instinct,” Lombard said. “Always play and compete to the best of my ability. I love to win, and that’s basically my biggest focus on the field is just winning ball games. So I guess if you watch me, I guess [that is] What you will notice – that competitiveness, that desire to win.”