The New York Yankees organization has had quite a successful off-season with the signings of free agent hurlers A.J. Burnett, and C.C. Sabathia, as well as first baseman Mark Teixeira. The club also added six minor league pitchers to the 40-man roster but none of them fall among the Yankees’ best prospects.
In fact, it’s a bit of a low period for the organization in terms of impact pitching prospects now that the eligibility has expired for players such as Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Hughes – all of whom have had varying degrees of success. That’s not to say the organization lacks pitching depth; there’s a lot of it but there are no sure-fire future stars (Not that the above three succeeded as scripted). It also doesn’t mean that the players added to the roster this off-season won’t have an impact. No one expected Dan Giese, Jose Veras, or Alfredo Aceves to have any kind of Major League success. The Yankees organization always seems to squeeze talent out of the most unlikely of sources.
Christian Garcia was drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft out of high school but injuries have taken a toll on his promising career. He missed all of 2007 after elbow surgery, but by all reports he still has his promising stuff, which includes a fastball that tops out around 95 mph, a wicked curveball and an improving change-up. Garcia spent most of the 2008 season in High-A ball and earned a one-game promotion to Double-A, where he walked six batters in 5.1 innings. In High-A, he allowed 45 hits in 49.2 innings with rates of 3.08 BB/9 and 10.87 K/9. The right-hander also allowed just two home runs.
Wilkins de la Rosa is a converted outfielder with power from the left side. After beginning the season in A-ball, and pitching mostly out of the bullpen, he ended the year with three solid starts in High-A ball. At the lower level, de la Rosa allowed just 60 hits in 90 innings and posted rates of 3.89 BB/9 and 10.96 K/9 with two home runs allowed. At this point, he is mostly a one-pitch thrower with a mid-90s fastball, but the southpaw is also working on both a curveball and a change-up. He’ll be 24 and in High-A ball when the season starts so time is against him to a degree.
Eric Hacker falls in the realm of ‘great results but lacks great stuff.’ Like Garcia, Hacker’s career has also been sidetracked by both elbow and shoulder surgeries, after originally being drafted out of high school in 2002. Those surgeries have taken a toll on his stuff and the right-hander now relies on command/control and the ground ball (58 GB% in High-A). Beginning the 2008 season in High-A ball, Hacker allowed 38 hits in 53 innings. He also posted rates of 1.53 BB/9 and 5.26 K/9, with just one home run allowed. Upon his promotion to Double-A, Hacker allowed 83 hits in 91 innings of work. He continued to show good control by posting a rate of 2.76 BB/9, along with 8.28 K/9.
The remaining three hurlers added to the 40-man roster include Michael Dunn, Anthony Claggett, and Steven Jackson. Dunn was a 33rd-round draft pick and, like de la Rosa, began his career as a hitter. He spent most of 2008 in High-A ball and allowed 124 hits in 124.2 innings. Claggett was acquired from Detroit in the Gary Sheffield trade during the 2006-07 off-season. The 24-year-old reliever posted rate of 4.60 BB/9 and 8.44 K/9 in Double-A in 2008. Jackson was acquired in the Randy Johnson trade with Arizona in the winter of 2006-07. Last season, Jackson, 26, split the season between Double-A and Triple-A, where he allowed 44 hits in 48.1 innings and posted a strikeout rate of 10.06 K/9.