The dominant return of Dellin Betances to the prospect map has understandably attracted significant buzz, but in this post, I am going to write about of the performances of a few Yankee pitching prospects that have gone under the radar.
Phelps, a 14th-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2008, has put up strong performances at every level of the minors, and has continued to do so in 2010 with Trenton. Phelps posted a 2.72 ERA and a 3:1 k/bb ratio in 2008 with Staten Island, and a 2.38 ERA with a k:bb ratio of about 4:1 in 2009 between Charleston and Tampa. Despite making moving up to a much higher level of competition in 2010, Phelps has handled AA with as much ease as the lower levels. Through 14 starts, Phelps is 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings against 23 walks. Phelps’s strikeout rate of nearly 1 per inning in 2010 is significantly higher than it has been in previous years, which points to the development of his secondary offerings that have helped him tackle the higher level of competition. Phelps’s FIP of 2.45 would seem to indicate that his stellar ERA is not greatly influenced by luck, and could be sustainable going forward. He may only have the ceiling of a #4 starter, and at 23 he’s not likely to improve drastically, but Phelps’s performance in AA could bode well for potential big league success.
Like Phelps, Noesi has a strong record of minor league success, and is posting an impressive season in AA at age 23. Noesi began the season in Tampa, and after 8 strong starts (2.72 ERA, 53 strikeouts against 6 walks in 43 innings), the Yankees promoted him to Trenton. Noesi has continued to pitch well through 45 innings in the Eastern League (with a 2.20 ERA), though his strikeout rate decreased and his walk rate increased. Still, his k:bb ratio of 5:1 in AA is more than sufficient, and Noesi has 44 strikeouts in 45 innings, so his strikeout rate remains strong. As with Phelps, Noesi’s FIP is not way out of line with his low ERA, though his FIP of 3.37 in Trenton is about a run above his ERA, so he could be due for a minor correction. Noesi has a similar profile to Phelps, though his superior k:bb ratio could be indicative of a higher ceiling (maybe a #3 starter at best).
While Noesi and Phelps have raised their stock through strong performances in AA, McAllister, who has posted great ERA’s throughout his minor league career, has seen some uncharacteristic struggles at AAA at age 22. McAllister was great in Trenton in 2009, with a 2.23 ERA, a k/9 rate of 7.14, a k:bb ratio around 3:1, and a GO:AO ratio of 1.07. Everything has regressed for McAllister in 2010, as his k rate has gone down to 5.51 k/9 and his GO/AO ratio is down to 0.77. The combination of fewer strikeouts and more flyballs, combined with a career high 5% HR/FB percentage have led to an ugly 4.55 ERA, with a FIP of 4.26 indicating that Z-Mac has not been exceptionally unlucky either. While McAllister has maintained his good control (his walk rate actually went down between 2009 and 2010), his inability to get strikeouts or groundballs like he has in previous years is responsible for his greatly increased ERA, and indicates that he may need to make substantial changes to recover his form of previous years. I’m not sure if his velocity or pitch selection has changed, but McAllister will continue to struggle if his strikeout and groundball rates remain this low. Zach is a year younger than Noesi and Phelps and a level ahead of both of them, so he has plenty of time to get things figured out.