Prospect Profile: Dillon Tate

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Dillon Tate | RHP

Background
Tate, 22, was born and raised in Southern California, and he attended Claremont High School in the Los Angeles suburbs. He earned all sorts of baseball and academic honors, and during the summers he trained at MLB’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton.

Baseball America ranked Tate as the 79th best prospect in California and 391st best prospect overall in the 2012 draft class. Their scouting report said he “could develop into an impact prospect” in college, and noted there were “scouts who regard him as a sleeper worth gambling on inside the top 10 rounds this year.”

Despite that praise, Tate went undrafted out of high school and wound up at UC Santana Barbara. He rarely pitched as a freshman — four games and three innings, that’s it — before pitching for the Urban Youth Academy Barons of the California Collegiate League in the summer. Tate threw another 32.2 innings in the CCL. He told Grace Raynor he vowed to himself that summer to become a first round pick after watching the 2013 draft on television.

As a sophomore in 2014, Tate took over as the Gauchos’ closer and pitched to a 1.45 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 17 walks in 43.1 innings. He was among the finalists for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year award as the nation’s top reliever. Tate pitched for Team USA in the summer and was ranked the fifth best prospect on the team by Jim Callis, one spot ahead of James Kaprielian.

UCSB moved Tate into the rotation his junior year and he took over as the staff ace, throwing 103.1 innings of 2.26 ERA ball. He struck out 111 and walked 28. Because he’d thrown more innings than ever before, Tate started to wear down late in the season and the Gauchos had to lighten his workload. He was named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award as college baseball’s best player.

Prior to the 2015 amateur draft, Baseball America ranked Tate as the third best prospect in the draft class behind Brendan Rodgers and Dansby Swanson. MLB.com and Keith Law (subs. req’d) both ranked Tate as the fifth best prospect available. The Rangers selected him with the fourth overall pick — he was the first pitcher selected in 2015 — and signed him to a $4.2M bonus.

The Yankees acquired Tate and two others from the Rangers in the Carlos Beltran deal at the 2016 trade deadline.

Pro Career
Because he threw so many innings at UCSB last spring, the Rangers took it very easy on Tate following the 2015 draft. They assigned him to the short season Northwest League and Low-A South Atlantic League. He appeared in only six games and threw only nine innings after signing, during which he allowed one run on three hits and three walks while striking out eight.

Texas sent Tate back to Low-A to start this season, and after two dominant starts (10.2 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 16 K), he was placed on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain. It sidelined him for nearly three weeks. Tate struggled when he returned and he never really got going. He allowed 19 runs on 23 hits and seven walks in his first five games and 13 innings back. Yikes.

At the time of the trade Tate had a 5.12 ERA (4.37 FIP) with mediocre strikeout (19.0%) and walk (9.3%) rates in 65 innings. The Yankees moved him to the Low-A Charleston bullpen immediately and had minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell work on his mechanics. Tate had a 2.95 ERA (3.62 FIP) with 17.9% strikeouts and 8.3% walks in 18.1 relief innings with the RiverDogs after the trade.

The Yankees sent Tate to the Arizona Fall League after the season for more innings. He had a 3.86 ERA (5.21 FIP) in six relief appearances and 9.1 innings with the Scottsdale Scorpions before reaching his innings limit and being shut down, according to Randy Miller. On the bright side, his small sample size strikeout (29.7%) and walk (2.7%) rates were excellent.

Scouting Report
There are essentially two scouting reports on Tate. The good scouting report has him sitting mid-90s and topping out at 98 mph with his fastball, and backing it up with a killer upper-80s slider and a promising changeup. The bad scouting report has his fastball in the upper-80s/low-90s with a sweepy breaking ball and generally inconsistent secondary pitches.

The good version of Tate existed prior to the hamstring injury. The bad version showed up after his early season disabled list stint. Reports indicate Tate’s stuff bounced back by time he got to the Arizona Fall League, which is promising. His velocity was more consistent in a relief role with the Yankees. That’s for sure. The changeup looked good too.

Even when he’s at his best, Tate’s fastball is pretty straight, so there’s some concern he’ll be homer prone against advanced hitters. The Yankees could try teaching him a two-seamer or sinker, though that’s easier than it sounds. Learning how to locate a pitch that moves unlike anything you’ve thrown before takes time.

Tate is listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 lbs., and he’s very athletic with a repeatable delivery, generally speaking. His tempo was out of whack for much of the year however, and that’s what the Yankees worked to fix. And for what it’s worth, Tate’s a really bright kid who did well in school. The good version of him is really, really good. The bad version might not get out of Double-A.

2017 Outlook
Brian Cashman told Randy Miller the Yankees are planning to move Tate back into the rotation next season. “(His velocity) has been good since we got him. We kind of let him go back to some of his mechanical ways before they made changes with him in Texas, and the velocity came back,” said the GM.

My guess is Tate will open next season with High-A Tampa, and if he does well, the Yankees figure to move him up to Double-A fairly quickly. There’s some thought he could reach the show as soon as next season if the team moves him to the bullpen full-time, but I think it’s way too soon to do that. Give him a chance to start with your coaches and instructors first.

My Take
The Yankees were really smart to buy low on Tate in the Beltran trade. He was a top prospect coming into the season — MLB.com (36th), Keith Law (50th), Baseball Prospectus (59th), and Baseball America (69th) all ranked him as a top 100 prospect in the spring — and the Yankees were able to get him (and two others!) for a rental DH. Had he suffered an arm injury in April instead of the hamstring, things might be a little different, but his arm’s healthy.

Now, that said, the Yankees took a pretty big risk here. Tate may not be fixable — the early returns suggests he’s getting back on track, so hooray for that — and even if he does get back to where he was last year, he still may only be a reliever long-term. A really good reliever, but still a reliever. He was definitely a worthwhile pickup though. The Yankees have a ton of depth in the farm system are in position to roll the dice on a talented player like Tate.

Prospect Profile: Clint Frazier

(Scranton Times-Tribune)
(Scranton Times-Tribune)

Clint Frazier | OF

Background
Frazier, who turned 22 in September, attended Loganville High School in the Atlanta suburbs. He was named Perfect Game National Player of the Year as a junior after hitting .424 with 24 home runs, and playing in the Under Armour All-American Game. The next year Frazier hit .485 with 17 home runs as a senior, and was named Gatorade National Player of the Year and Baseball America High School Player of the Year.

Both Baseball America and MLB.com ranked Frazier as the fourth best prospect in the entire 2013 draft class — and the best high school prospect overall — behind Kris Bryant, Jon Gray, and Mark Appel. The Indians selected him with the fifth overall pick after Appel (Astros), Bryant (Cubs), Gray (Rockies), and Kohl Stewart (Twins) went with the top four picks, in that order. Cleveland bought Frazier away from the University of Georgia with a $3.5M bonus.

The Yankees acquired Frazier, along lefty Justus Sheffield and righties Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen, from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade at the 2016 trade deadline. “There is excitement about coming to terms for a guy that we targeted. At the same time, there was a pit in your stomach because we knew we were trading really good players,” said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti to Andrew Marchand after the trade.

Pro Career
The Indians assigned Frazier to their Rookie Arizona League affiliate after signing, and he hit .297/.362/.506 (137 wRC+) with five home runs in 44 games in his pro debut. In 2014, the Tribe sent him to their Low-A Midwest League affiliate for his first full pro season, where he hit .266/.349/.411 (120 wRC+) with 13 home runs in 120 games as a 19-year-old. Frazier was 2.5 years younger than the average Midwest League player.

As expected, the Indians moved Frazier up to their High-A affiliate in the Carolina League in 2015. He hit .285/.377/.465 (147 wRC+) with 16 home runs in 133 games during the regular season — Frazier was 2.7 years younger than the average Carolina League player — then put up a .281/.347/.438 (115 wRC+) batting line with three homers in 22 games with the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League.

Frazier started the 2016 season with the Indians’ Double-A Eastern League affiliate, with whom he hit .276/.356/.469 (129 wRC+) with 13 homers in 89 game before being promoted to the Triple-A International League. He was promoted one week before the trade, after participating in the Futures Game. Frazier went 5-for-21 (.238) in five games with Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate before authoring a .228/.278/.396 (90 wRC+) line with three homers in 25 games with Triple-A Scranton.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘I’ve let other people make me feel pressure.’ And that’s never happened before, I’ve never felt pressure,” said Frazier to Kelsie Heneghan when asked about his mindset after the trade. “You go through that feeling of that you have weight on your shoulders the whole time. Every time I stepped into the box, I was trying to impress people.”

Frazier is a career .273/.353/.444 (128 wRC+) hitter with 54 home runs, a 25.8% strikeout rate, and a 10.0% walk rate in 2,027 minor league plate appearances and 457 games. He’s done that despite being at least 2.5 years younger than the average competition in each league. (He was almost four years younger than the competition for his levels in 2016.) Needless to say, Frazier has appeared on many top 100 prospect lists over the years.

Baseball America MLB.com ESPN Baseball Prospectus
Pre-2014 48th 48th 45th 36th
Pre-2015 DNR 53rd 92nd 89th
Pre-2016 44th 47th 72nd 53rd
Mid-2016 21st 15th 34th 26th

At this point Frazier is a lock for all pre-2017 top 100 prospect lists. Had he followed through on his commitment to Georgia out of high school, he would have been draft-eligible this summer. Instead, Frazier reached Triple-A at age 21, and is now only a phone call away from the show.

Scouting Report
Brian Cashman called Frazier’s bat speed “legendary” after the trade and that has long been the right-handed hitter’s calling card. Frazier has an insanely quick bat and strong hands that generate big raw power. That power doesn’t always show up in games though because he hits the ball on the ground too frequently. Frazier’s ground ball rates in his three full minor league seasons are 41.6%, 42.8%, and 45.0%. Those are a wee bit too high for a high-end prospect. He needs to generate more loft.

Over the years Frazier has worked to tone down his setup at the plate, which featured a lot of unnecessary movement back in the day. He used to waggle his bat, things like that. Frazier has good knowledge of the strike zone and recognizes spin, though he tends to get too swing happy at times and chase out of the zone. It’s not so much an approach problem as it is a “hey, calm the hell down” problem. Frazier plays very hard with an all-out style that will endear him to fans, but sometimes the aggressiveness carries over into his at-bats. Here’s some video from his stint with the RailRiders:

In addition to the bat speed, Frazier is an above-average runner and that allows him to be a weapon on the bases and track down balls in the outfield. He’s played all three outfield spots in his career and has the defensive prowess to remain in center for the foreseeable future. Frazier, who is listed at a stocky 6-foot-1 and 190 lbs., also has an above-average arm that would fit well in right field. Point is, he’s not a one-dimensional player. He contributes at the plate, in the field, and on the bases.

2017 Outlook
Frazier won’t be Rule 5 Draft eligible until next offseason, so he’s not on the 40-man roster and won’t have to be added until after the 2017 season. The Yankees will surely bring him to Spring Training next year as a non-roster player though, and given his talent, Frazier is the kind of player who could force the issue quick and get called up next summer. My guess is he’ll be added to the 40-man and reach the show before being Rule 5 Draft eligible, which doesn’t happen often for high school draftees, even ones selected fifth overall.

My Take
I really like Frazier as prospect, have for a long time, and I was thrilled the Yankees were able to get him (and more!) for Miller. I didn’t think they would be able to pry a prospect of this caliber (and more!) loose for a reliever, even one as good as Miller. The bullpen market really blew up over the last 12 months or so.

Frazier is not without his flaws. He’s going to swing and miss some, and it’ll probably take him some time to get his footing in the big leagues, but the offensive potential is very high, and Frazier is going to play a well-rounded game too. With all due respect to guys like Aaron Judge and Austin Jackson, Frazier is probably New York’s best outfield prospect since Ruben Rivera was in his heyday in the late-1990s.

Prospect Profile: Chance Adams

(Dallas Baptist)
(Dallas Baptist)

Chance Adams | RHP

Background
Adams grew up in Scottsdale and attended Chaparral High School, where he both pitched and played third base. He helped the Firebirds to back-to-back state championships in 2011 and 2012, his junior and senior years. Adams was not much of a pro prospect at the time — Baseball America did not rank him among the top 500 prospects for the 2012 draft — so he went undrafted out of high school.

As a freshman at Yavapai College, Adams focused on pitching full-time and had a 5.40 ERA in 16 2/3 relief innings. He struck out 18 and walked eleven. He was draft-eligible again in 2013 since Yavapai is a two-year school, but he was still not much of a pro prospect, so he went undrafted. Baseball America (subs. req’d) did not rank Adams among the top 500 draft prospects overall or the top 45 prospects in Arizona.

The second year at Yavapai went much better. Adams moved into the rotation and had a 2.88 ERA in 56 1/3 innings with 62 strikeouts and 19 walks. He also managed four complete games. Baseball America (subs. req’d) again did not rank Adams among the top 500 prospects for the 2014 draft and again he went undrafted.

Adams transferred to Dallas Baptist for his junior season and moved into a full-time bullpen role. He had a 1.98 ERA with 83 strikeouts and 13 walks in 59 innings for the Patriots. Baseball America ranked Adams as the 245th best prospect in the 2015 draft class, and the Yankees selected him with their fifth round pick, No. 153 overall. He signed for a $330,000 bonus, just below the $342,000 slot value.

Pro Debut
The Yankees did not screw around with Adams. He signed quickly and they sent him to Short Season Staten Island. After four appearances with the Baby Bombers, the Yankees moved him up to Low-A Charleston. After five appearances with the RiverDogs, Adams was bumped up to High-A Tampa. All told, Adams threw 35.1 relief innings at three levels after signing last year. He had a 1.78 ERA (1.75 FIP) with 45 strikeouts (31.7%) and nine walks (6.3%).

Scouting Report
Last spring at Dallas Baptist, the 21-year-old Adams was a low-90s fastball guy with an inconsistent cutter as his primary secondary pitch. His velocity jumped into the 93-96 mph range in pro ball — he reportedly ran his fastball up to 99 mph with Staten Island — and the Yankees helped him turn the cutter into a true slider. Here’s some video:

Adams made some progress with his changeup after signing, so much so the Yankees will apparently give him a chance to start next season. He’s not particularly tall — listed at 6-foot-0 and 215 lbs. — and getting downward plane on his fastball has been challenge. There’s a decent chance he’ll be fly ball prone going forward, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Adams, who as best I can tell has never had any injury issues, uses a full windup in relief and his control is fine. After spending the spring as a low-90s fastball/cutter pitcher at Dallas Baptist, Adams finished the 2015 pro season as a mid-90s fastball/slider guy with an okay changeup.

2016 Outlook
The Yankees do have a recent history of moving college relievers into the rotation — they did it last year with 2014 sixth rounder Jonathan Holder, for example — so I don’t doubt they’re planning to try Adams as a starter in 2016. Either way, starter or bullpen, he seems likely to begin the 2016 season back with High-A Tampa. Adams might stay there all season if he remains in the rotation. If he works as a reliever, he could zoom up the ladder and possibly even make his MLB debut late in the season. That’s the very best case scenario though.

My Take
I like Adams as a prospect and kinda wish the Yankees would just leave him in the bullpen, but I suppose they do have a ton of upper level relievers, so they have the depth to try him as a starter. Now’s the time to do it, early in his career. I’m interested to see if the mid-90s velocity sticks going forward — probably not as a starter, but who knows — because if it does, it changes his outlook considerably. At 91-93 mph he was interesting. At 94-96 mph he was dominant. The Yankees know how to get power arms to MLB quickly and Adams could be next in line.

Prospect Profile: Drew Finley

(San Diego Union Tribune)
(San Diego Union Tribune)

Drew Finley | RHP

Background
Finley is from San Diego and his father David is a lifelong baseball man. He was a two-time All-American in college and played two years of pro ball before getting into scouting. He’s worked for the Padres, Marlins, and Red Sox — he was a special assistant to the GM and director of player personnel in Boston — before joining the Dodgers, his current team.

The junior Finley attended baseball powerhouse Rancho Bernando High School, which has produced Hank Blalock, Cole Hamels, and Alex Jackson (6th overall pick in 2014), among others. Finley had a 0.81 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 86 innings last spring, and he also threw a school record 20-strikeout game in April. Keith Law and Baseball America (both subs. req’d) ranked Finley as the 26th and 60th best prospect in the 2015 draft class, respectively.

The Yankees selected Finley with their third round pick, the 92nd overall selection. He signed relatively quickly for a $950,000 bonus that was well above the $626,000 slot recommendation. The extra draft pool space came from second rounder Jeff Degano, who signed a below slot deal.

Pro Debut
After signing, Finley was assigned to the team’s new rookie ball affiliate, the Pulaski Yankees. He had a 3.94 ERA (6.58 FIP) in 12 starts and 32 innings — he was limited to three innings per start — with a good strikeout rate (27.2%) but shockingly high walk (12.6%) and homer (2.53 HR/9) rates. Finley allowed six homers in his first 15.1 innings and only two in his final 16.2 innings, which I guess is the good news. The Yankees didn’t bother to send Finley to Instructional League in the fall after he threw 118 total innings between high school and pro ball in 2015. They sent him home to rest.

Scouting Report
Finley, 19, has good size at 6-foot-3 and 200 lbs., and, as you’d expect from someone who grew up around the game, he’s very advanced for his age. His fastball regularly sits in the 88-92 mph range and he spots it to both sides of the plate. The expectation is Finley will add velocity as he matures and gets under a pro throwing program.

Finley’s bread and butter is a sharp 12-to-6 curveball he can throw for a strike or bury in the dirt for swings and misses. Here’s some video, first from behind the plate and then from a traditional television broadcast outfield camera:

Interestingly, Keith Law (subs. req’d) mentioned Trackman (i.e. PitchFX) data at the 2014 Area Code Games measured Finley’s fastball extension and curveball spin rate among the best in the draft class. Jonathan Mayo has some data showing Finley’s fastball spin rate was among the highest measured as well. Spin rate correlates very well to swing-and-miss rate.

Finley also throws a solid changeup with fade away from left-handed hitters. He can throw all three of his pitches for strikes and has very good feel for his craft. His delivery is relatively effortless as well, pointing towards future above-average command. Finley is not an ace in the making. He’s an advanced high schooler with three pitches who looks like a very safe bet to pitch in the middle of a rotation for a long time. (Safe bet being a relative term, of course.)

2016 Outlook
Over the last few years the Yankees have had their most advanced high school draftees begin their first full pro ball season in Extended Spring Training before bumping them up to Low-A Charleston in May. That’s what they did with Ian Clarkin two years ago, and you can even go as far back as Slade Heathcott and John Ryan Murphy in 2010. They started the year in ExST before being moved up to the RiverDogs in May. I think that might be the plan for Finley in 2016. He’s really advanced for his age and he threw plenty of innings last year, so his workload situation is in good shape. Low-A ball will be a nice test for him this year.

My Take
I’m a really big Finley guy. I thought he was a borderline first round talent heading into the draft and I was thrilled when the Yankees were able to get him in the third round. The walks and homers with Pulaski were a bit disconcerting, but Finley was at the end of a long season and in his first taste of pro ball, so I’ll cut him some slack. I don’t think the Yankees will or should move Finley has aggressively as they did Luis Severino, but he is advanced and he should be a pretty quick mover by high school pitcher standards. I’m excited to watch Finley develop and believe he could be one of the better pitching prospects in the game in a year or two.

Prospect Profile: Jeff Degano

(MCCAthletics.com)
(MCCAthletics.com)

Jeff Degano | LHP

Background
Degano grew up in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb just north of the Canada-U.S. border. He was part of the Canadian team in the 2005 Little League World Series, and wound up taking a loss in pool play. (Canada was eliminated later in the tournament.) Degano attended Fraser Heights High School and was not much of a pro prospect at the time, so he went unselected in the 2010 draft.

Degano headed to Marshalltown Community College in Iowa, pitching to a 3.80 ERA with 98 strikeouts in 71 innings across 16 starts in two seasons. Although he was draft-eligible following both the 2011 and 2012 seasons at Marshalltown, Degano still wasn’t much of a pro prospect, so he went undrafted both times. He instead transferred to Indiana State for his junior year.

In his first season with the Sycamores, Degano made three starts and allowed eleven runs (eight earned) on 15 hits and seven walks in 8.2 innings. He struck out only four. Yeesh. Degano was not healthy though — he blew out his elbow early in the 2013 season and underwent Tommy John surgery. He made just those three starts in 2013 and did not pitch at all in 2014 either.

Degano returned to the mound last spring and was one of the best college starters in the county. He threw 99 innings across 15 starts as a redshirt junior, pitching to a 2.36 ERA with 126 strikeouts (eighth most in Division I) and 28 walks. Degano got better and better as he got further away from elbow surgery and finished the spring very strong.

Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Degano as the third best prospect in Indiana and the 83rd best prospect in the 2015 draft class overall. The Yankees selected Degano in the second round (57th overall) and signed him to a $650,000 bonus fairly quickly. Slot was $1.07M. The draft pool savings were redirected towards later round picks.

Pro Debut
The Yankees eased Degano into pro ball following Tommy John surgery and his big spring workload at Indiana State. He made six tune-up appearances (10.2 innings) with the Rookie Gulf Coast League Yankees before jumping to Short Season Staten Island, where he had a 2.77 ERA (3.13 FIP) in 13 innings. Degano spent most of his time piggybacking with first rounder James Kaprielian — Kaprielian would start, go two or three innings, then Degano would come out of the bullpen and throw two or three innings. After throwing 122.2 total innings in his first year back from elbow reconstruction, the Yankees sent Degano home after the minor league season. He didn’t participate in Instructional League.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs., Degano turned 23 in October and is older than your typical college draftee because the Tommy John surgery delayed things by two years. He only made the three starts in 2013 — his junior and would-be draft year — before missing the entire 2014 season as well.

Anyway, Degano works with a low-90s fastball that sat closer to 92-94 mph later in the spring, as he got further away from elbow surgery. He has two versions of a slurvy breaking ball — the pitch sits anywhere in the 77-82 mph range and Degano can give it big break like a curveball or sweepy break like a slider. Here’s some video from last May, a few weeks before the draft.

Degano’s third pitch is a low-80s changeup that needs a lot of work. He didn’t need it to dominate in college and all the time missed to injury meant he couldn’t work on the pitch. The development of that changeup will determine whether Degano can remain in the rotation or have to settle for a bullpen role long-term.

Once he shook off the rust following surgery, Degano threw more strikes and was better able to pound the zone. He has good control right now but must work on his command, namely painting the corners and keeping his fastball at the knees. Degano is a left-hander with the stuff to miss bats and a big workhorse frame, so it’s no surprise he was drafted as high as he was despite his age and injury history.

2016 Outlook
The Yankees are going to keep Degano in the rotation and hope he improves his changeup so he can remain a starter long-term. I’m not sure whether he’ll open the season with Low-A Charleston or High-A Tampa though. The Yankees might be tempted to start Degano at the higher level given his age, but after losing 2013-14 to injury, the lower level might be more appropriate at this point of his development. We’ll see. Either way, Degano will pitch in full season ball this coming season.

My Take
The injury history sucks, but Degano is a southpaw with good stuff and a big frame, so I’m a fan. His age doesn’t bother me much, to be honest. Yeah, it would be better if he was 20 or 21, but they don’t check IDs on the mound. If you can get outs, you can get outs. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Even if Degano doesn’t improve his changeup, I think he has the tools to be a very successful lefty reliever, and I don’t mean a lefty specialist either. The Yankees took Degano in part to save draft pool space — he had limited leverage after the injury, hence the well-below-slot bonus — but he’s a legitimate prospect with impact potential.

Prospect Profile: Chad Green

(Joel Bissell/MLive.com)
(Joel Bissell/MLive.com)

Chad Green | RHP

Background
Green, 24, grew up in Effingham, Illinois, which is roughly halfway between St. Louis and Indianapolis. He played both baseball and basketball at Effingham High School, where he was a three-time All-Conference and two-time All-Area honoree. Chad’s twin brother Chase also played baseball, and went on to use up all five years of eligibility at Southern Illinois.

Baseball America (subs. req’d) did not rank Green among their top 200 prospects for the 2010 draft, but they did rank him the No. 12 prospect in Illinois. The Blue Jays selected Green out of high school with their 37th round pick but failed to sign him. He instead followed through on his commitment to Louisville and stepped into a low-leverage relief role as a freshman.

Green posted a 1.93 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 16 walks in 42 innings in his first year on campus. He remained in the bullpen as a sophomore, throwing 46.2 innings with a 2.70 ERA and 42/23 K/BB. After the season, Green headed to the Cape Cod League, where he really broke out with a Bourne Braves. He pitched to a 2.79 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 42 innings against the top college players in the country.

The Cardinals moved Green into the rotation his junior year. He threw 104.1 innings across 18 starts, posting a 2.42 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 27 walks. That earned him Second Team All-Big East honors. Green allowed five runs in 12 innings in two postseason starts, both wins. Louisville advanced to the College World Series but was eliminated after losing their first two games, so Green didn’t get a chance to pitch in Omaha.

Green left Louisville after 193 innings with a 2.38 ERA, the best in school history at the time. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him as the ninth best prospect in Kentucky and the 267th best prospect in the 2013 draft class. The Tigers selected him in the 11th round (336th overall) and signed him for $100,000. The Yankees acquired Green from Detroit in the Justin Wilson trade earlier this month.

Pro Career
The Tigers had Green start his pro career with their High Class-A affiliate — he went for a quick tune-up with their rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate first — where he worked as a reliever following his big workload in school. Green had a 3.54 ERA (3.22 FIP) with 16 strikeouts and six walks in 20.1 pro innings in 2013.

Despite the solid showing in High-A, the Tigers sent Green to their Low Class-A affiliate for the 2014 season. He spent the entire year at the level, throwing 130.1 innings with a 3.11 ERA (3.08 FIP). Green struck out 23.9% of batters faced and walked 5.4%. Baseball America ranked him as the team’s 29th best prospect following the season in their 2015 Prospect Handbook.

The Tigers jumped Green straight to Double-A this past season — High-A to Low-A to Double-A is an atypical development path, I’d say — where he had a 3.93 ERA (3.22 FIP) in 148.2 innings. He had solid strikeout (20.9%) and walk (6.6%) rates while being about six months younger than the average Eastern League player.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-3 and 210 lbs., Green is a big and physical right-hander with a low-90s sinker that is his key to success. He throws a lot of strikes with the pitch and consistently locates it at the knees. The Tigers introduced Green to a splitter last season and it has since emerged as his top secondary offering. He’s still working to gain consistency with the pitch.

Green also throws a sharp low-80s slider that he struggles to locate on the outer edge to righties. He tends to miss way off the plate or hang it over the middle. The split-finger, which replaced a changeup, is Green’s put-away pitch against both righties and lefties at the moment. There’s not much video of him available, so here’s a clip from April 2014, when he was in Low Class-A with the Tigers.

Green’s delivery is pretty simple and in-line with the plate, allowing him to throw strikes with his fastball with ease. He’s been praised for his ability to outsmart hitters and keep them off balance. Also of note: Green’s a very good athlete and a strong fielder, which is not insignificant for a ground ball pitcher.

2016 Outlook
After pitching well and spending the entire season in Double-A in 2015, Green is ticketed for the Triple-A Scranton rotation next season. I’m guessing he’ll get an invite to big league Spring Training so the coaching staff and front office can see him up close. Assuming he pitches well with the RailRiders, Green figures to make his MLB debut at some point next year, even if he’s only an up-and-down arm at first. He’ll be Rule 5 Draft eligible next offseason, so a 40-man roster spot hangs in the balance.

My Take
Pitching prospects like Green don’t excite me much but the Yankees seem to have success with guys like this, guys who can throw strikes and pitch off their fastball. David Phelps and Adam Warren are the most notable recent examples. The Yankees worked with both to develop secondary stuff. Green’s new-ish splitter is promising and I’m guessing tightening up the slider will be a point of emphasis going forward. There’s nothing sexy about back-end starters, but the Yankees need cheap rotation help, and Green just might be able to help in that capacity.

Prospect Profile: Luis Cessa

(Toledo Blade)
(Toledo Blade)

Luis Cessa | RHP

Background
The Mets originally signed Cessa as a 16-year-old shortstop out of Mexico in June 2008. I can’t find any information about his signing bonus, though Cessa was not a significant amateur prospect, so chances are the bonus was relatively small.

Pro Career
Cessa spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons in the Dominican Summer League and he didn’t hit, putting up a .178/.319/.229 batting line in 57 total games. The Mets put an end to his shortstop days and decided to try to take advantage of his arm on the mound. Cessa converted to pitching for the 2011 season.

In his first year as a moundsman, Cessa had a 3.19 ERA (2.64 FIP) in 53.2 rookie ball innings. He moved up to the Short Season NY-Penn League in 2012 and managed a 2.53 ERA (3.51 FIP) in 13 starts and 72.1 innings. The Mets bumped Cessa up to their Low Class-A affiliate in 2013 and he responded with a 3.20 ERA (3.14 FIP) in 21 starts and 130 innings. The pitching thing was working out.

The 2014 season saw Cessa pitch to a 4.26 ERA (3.76 FIP) in 118.1 innings, almost all at High-A. (He made one spot start in Double-A.) The Mets opted not to add him to their 40-man roster after the season and the gamble paid off — Cessa went unpicked in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft. He was assigned to the club’s Double-A affiliate to start 2015.

Cessa broke out this past season, pitching to a 2.56 ERA (2.69 FIP) in 13 starts and 77.1 Double-A innings. The Mets moved him up Triple-A for five starts (8.51 ERA and 3.85 FIP), then traded him to the Tigers as the second piece in the Yoenis Cespedes deal. Cessa made seven more Triple-A starts with the Tigers (5.97 ERA and 3.40 FIP) after the trade.

All told, Cessa had a 4.52 ERA (3.08 FIP) in 25 starts and 139.1 innings this season between the Mets and Tigers, Double-A and Triple-A. His strikeout (19.6%) and walk (5.9%) rates were right in line with his career averages (19.6 K% and 5.1 BB%). The Yankees acquired Cessa from the Tigers in the Justin Wilson trade last week.

Scouting Report
Most position player-to-pitcher conversion guys are hard throwers with no real idea where the ball is going. That doesn’t really describe Cessa. The 23-year-old right-hander has a low-90s fastball and will touch 95 mph regularly, and he throws both a changeup and a slider. The change is the more reliable of the two secondary pitches — the Mets had him emphasize the changeup over the years — but the slider flashes above-average potential.

Cessa has a good pitcher’s body at 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs., and he has the kind of athleticism you’d expect from a former shortstop. His delivery is really smooth and he does a very good job repeating it. Most converted guys short arm the ball or have herky jerky motions. Not Cessa.

The delivery and athleticism give Cessa very good control and solid command. He throws strikes and can spot his fastball well, though the changeup and slider command are still improving. Cessa took to pitching quickly, so I guess it’s no surprise he has a reputation for being coachable and having a strong work ethic.

2016 Outlook
The Tigers did not roll the dice like the Mets last year. Detroit added Cessa to the 40-man roster last month to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, so he is on New York’s 40-man right now. That means he’ll be in big league camp next spring and I’m sure we’ll see him often, especially if bullpen jobs are up for grabs. More than likely, Cessa will head to Triple-A Scranton and be an up-and-down arm in 2016. Depending what happens with Bryan Mitchell, Cessa could be as high as seventh on the rotation depth chart come Opening Day.

My Take
I didn’t know a whole lot about Cessa before the trade so I haven’t had much time to form an opinion. He’s certainly not a high ceiling prospect. He’s more of a back-end starter who succeeds by limiting walks and keeping the ball on the ground (51.2% ground ball rate in 2015). Cessa does give the Yankees something they lack though: Triple-A rotation depth. The system has been short on arms for a while now and Cessa helps address the upper level depth problem.