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In a piece I posted last Sunday, I linked back to an Organizational Leaders chart posted by Greg Fertel of Pending Pinstripes. Most were familiar names  like Ivan Nova, Graham Stoneburner, Hector Noesi and David Phelps. All of them are pitchers we’ve already much about, that we have a good feel on who they are and where they fit in the Yankee organization. But one name that we’ve heard little about appeared 6 times in the 8 categories, only Hector Noesi appeared more often (7). So I wanted to see what I could dig up about this guy to get a better idea of who he is as a pitcher and what his future may hold.

His name is Shaeffer Hall. Lefthanded pitcher born on October 2nd, 1987 in Independence, Missouri.  He’s listed at 6′ 0″ 180 pounds. He was selected by the New York Yankees in the 25th round of the 2009 draft out of Kansas University, where he pitched for the Jayhawks for two seasons. The two years he spent in college wouldn’t have given you the impression that he would be a top performer for the Yanks, despite throwing a no-hitter against Air Force in 2009. He posted a 4-2 record with a 5.13 ERA in his sophomore season, giving up 73 hits in 59.2 innings pitched. In his Junior year in the Big 12, he went 5-6 with a 4.18 ERA, again giving up more hits (104) than innings pitched (92.2). But what caught the eye of scouts who watched him was his stellar control, walking just 10 men that season (0.97/9). The thought was he was a victim of aluminum bats, that he would fare much better in pro ball, and they were right. Their first confirmation of this was his performance for the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod League, where he went 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA in 18.2 IP over 14 appearances. After signing with the Yanks, he reported to the Staten Island Yankees and made a brief cameo, where he performed well in two short starts. He began the 2010 season in the Sally League, pitching for the Low-A Charleston Riverdogs. In 10 starts, he went 2-2 with a 1.85 ERA. But more impressively, he gave up just 52 hits in 68.0 IP and maintained the stellar control (1.45/9) that attracted the Yanks in the first place.  That performance earned him a quick promotion to High-A Tampa, and he hasn’t disappointed there. Over 48.1 IP he’s given up 47 hits, and just 8 walks (1.48/9). He’s a fly ball pitcher, posting GO/AO of 1.41 in Charleston and 1.76 in Tampa this year.

So what’s he like? Here’s a scouting report on him from when the Yanks drafted him last year out of college:

I think Schaeffer will be the first Jayhawk taken on Wednesday afternoon. He was drafted out of HS in the 28th round by the Texas Rangers and after his freshman year of Junior College in the 23rd round by the Cleveland Indians.  Hall has been on the radar of MLB scouts for several years. He is the rare and perfect example of a pitcher with very little velocity but with 3 solid pitches (a plus changeup), great command and great control. Coach Price likes to compare him to the ageless wonder for the Phillies, Jamie Moyer. Hall gives up slightly more than 1 hit/inning, doesnt get many strikeouts but he walks almost no one and keeps the ball down inducing a ton of ground ball outs and weak hits. Hitters rarely get a good look at a bad pitch and rarely make good contact with his pitches. Hall also has decent size and is a lefty.

Reports are that he’s a hard worker, reportedly losing 20 pounds in his short time with the Yankees. He throws a fastball, curve and change up. His fastball sits in the 87-90 MPH range, but can occasionally dip below that. He throws the change consistently around 76 MPH, and the curve around 74-75 MPH. Depth and lateral movement on his off speed stuff is above average, but also inconsistent at times. He works quickly and throws all three pitches for strikes, which is the key to his success. Here’s what his Charleston River Dogs pitching coach Jeff Ware had to say about him:

He has great command of all three of his pitches. When he has all three working and keeping the ball down, he is on top of his game. He can strike you out and can induce lots of ground balls. Schaef is also well prepared and hard-working. It is a great combination.”

As a pitcher who works without blow-away stuff, he’s especially prone to getting knocked around on nights when he gets squeezed by the home plate umpire. So he relies on having precise command and control. Being Lefty raises his ceiling, but this is the type of pitcher who can at times stumble as he climbs the organizational ladder. As a college pitcher in low/high A-Ball, his polish can carry him. But as he faces better hitters it will remain to be seen if he can maintain his results, particularly his walk rate. He’s going to give up more HRs as he climbs the ladder, so keeping men off base is key. That’s not to say he can’t have a solid MLB future, Mark Buehrle and Jamie Moyer would fall into the same category that Hall does in terms of stuff. But the Yanks tend to hang on to the guys with big fastballs and high ceilings, and trade away guys like Hall. Andy Pettitte being a notable exception. If he ever gets a chance with the big league club, he’ll need to make the most of it like Andy did.

16 Responses to “The Best Yankee Prospect You Haven’t Heard Of”

  1. Let’s not compare him to the 6’5 Andy Pettitte who could throw a 92-93 mph fastball that cut.Even this year he’s been 92 on occasion, Andy has a big arm.
    Hall, though an interesting prospect to follow (all he does is win games) is 6′ and tops out at 89.Middle reliever maybe but a personal favorite who I have followed since he was drafted.
    CHase Whitley is the prospect nobody talks about who is interesting.Much too good for the league he’s pitching in.Blows them away every day.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    I brought up Andy’s name as being someone who had to make the most of his opportunities on a team like the Yanks, not as a player comp for Hall as a pitcher. Buehrle was the comp I used, and Andy and Buehrle are obviously two very different pitchers. People overreact when you bring up names and completely ignore the context in which you bring them up.

    Again, young pitchers who don’t have blow away stuff (Andy never did) have to make the most of their opportunities with the Yanks, or they wind up as trade bait. If anyone wants to dispute any part of that statement, they don’t know much about the how the Yankee brass thinks about these things.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    leftylarry Reply:

    I’ll be rooting for Hall but how many barely 6′ pitchers who throw 85-89 make it as starting pitchers in the big leagues?

    P.S. Buehrle is 6’2 235, HAll maybe 6′ 180.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    FrankO Reply:

    Hall sounds more like Jimmy Key.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Reggie C. Reply:

    I’m a little confused with your Andy Pettitte point. If your not comparing stuff, which is wise considering Andy threw ALOT harder than Hall at the same age, then what exactly do you mean by making most of an opportunity.

    Hall’s stuff will dictate whether he has a future with the Yanks. Look at how Cash is composing the rotations at the upper minors: POWER ARMS. All those guys can sit in the low 90s, and never ever drop in the 85 mph range.

    Hall is org filler.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Andy threw ALOT harder than Hall at the same age

    I’d love to see you back that up, because Fangraphs only goes back to 2007 with their velocity charts. With what I (vaguely) remember from game telecasts, Andy used to sit in the low 90s when he was called up in 95, saw his velocity dip into the high 80s around the time his elbow was barking and they were looking to deal him (1999) Then when the Yanks got Clemens, Andy was his workout buddy and his velocity jumped back up to the low 90s again.

    In any case, Andy has been working around 89 MPH with his fastball for the past 3 years, and has been anywhere from solid to outstanding. There’s more to pitching than velocity, and I’m glad the Yanks understand that, even if some of their fans don’t.

    Hall is org filler.

    Gross overstatement on your part. If you think guys have to throw above 90 to get MLB hitters out, then you’ll have to explain Jared Weaver, Brett Myers, Jonathan Niese, Johan Santana, Shaun Marcum, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, Jason Vargas, Wade LeBlanc, Dallas Braden, Barry Zito, Livan Hernandez, and All of whom average below 90 MPH with the fastball and are having fine seasons with ERAs below 4.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=y&type=4&season=2010&month=0

    Sometimes I wonder if people are watching the same games I am.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    misterd Reply:

    If you think guys have to throw above 90 to get MLB hitters out, then you’ll have to explain Jared Weaver, Brett Myers, Jonathan Niese, Johan Santana, Shaun Marcum, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, Jason Vargas, Wade LeBlanc, Dallas Braden, Barry Zito, Livan Hernandez, and

    I think you forgot Nick Swisher.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    leftylarry Reply:

    I watch every game and Pettitte gets it to 91 whenever he wants and has hit 92 early in the season before the elbow also and he’s cutting the ball.It’s one thing to have the arm strength but gear back for control purposes and movement ( that arm strength makes the breaking pitches harder and heavier) and another to max out at barely 90.
    My best hope for Hall is he throws harder out of the Bullpen and can be a David Robertson type but from the portside, a loogy or a middle reliever.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Average fastball implies above and below, of course.

    As far as becoming a LOOGY, that would be a terrific outcome for him. One I don’t discount at all. Change of pace from the left side, he could be very effective. Some of the other comments suggested he has no big league future whatsoever, based on his velocity. That’s what I took issue with.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. Jimmy Key is an excellent comp as far as size and stuff.

    While it’s not smart to overlook guys like this, stockpiling power arms is a sound organizational decision.

    When Pettitte and Hitchcock first came up, I used to have arguments with my boss about who would turn into the better pitcher. I never understood what anyone saw in Sterling. I did understand what people saw in Key, and if this guy can come close to what Key did, he’ll at least be a good trading chip. Wasn’t Steve Farr the same kind of pitcher (as a closer) on some of those early 90′s NYY teams?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  3. Hall flies under the radar because he’s nothing to get excited about. Pitchers with good control and college experience usually dominate inexperienced hitters at the lower levels of the minors. He’s proven himself to be more than just an organizational player, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be anything of value in the long run. Hall is a marginal prospect whose best tool is his handedness. Otherwise, he wouldn’t even warrant any real attention.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    I agree with every word, but the beauty of Baseball is that once in a while someone surprises you. I wouldn’t bet the rent money on him panning out, but I do keep an open mind on him.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  4. Thanks so much for this. His name jumped out after the last article. Nice to know what we’re looking at, and as someone who chaffes at conventional wisdom, I’ll be pulling for him.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Thanks, our exchange the other day made me think this needed to be written.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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