Back in the draft of 2018, the New York Yankees snagged a pitcher who was fifth in the NCAA in ERA and sixth in WHIP. Those impressive numbers made Frank German the Yankees fourth-round selection and the highest drafted player ever from North Florida. German came to the Yankees with a very good fastball/change combination. His fastball had really good running action to it, and the change had a nice sink that fooled batters and made them drive the ball into the ground. Those two pitches have assisted in making German the 29th ranked prospect in the Yankees system. German had a college slurve which was also an effective pitch, but the least polished of his three. His breaking ball often had a little too much loft which would play right into the full power of right-handed batters. After he was drafted, German added about three MPH onto his fastball which made the pitch even more dynamic. German has a fastball that is now topping out around 98 MPH. The Yankees do not know yet if German will progress as a starter or a reliever, but he had a decent year in 2019 as a starter.
Last year, German bounced between Rookie Ball and Advanced-A ball. Between three teams, German-made 18 starts where he went 4-5 with a 4.11 ERA. He struck out 87 batters in 81 innings which is a positive, but had a higher WHIP at 1.40. One of the reasons for the high WHIP was his walks. In 2018, German had a walk rate of 1.50 per nine innings. Last year, German’s walk rate jumped to an alarming 4.50 per nine innings. German has a very clean and repeatable delivery which makes you believe that he can get the walks under control. The main issue with German has been his breaking ball. The New York Yankees are trying to turn that college slurve that had a little too much loft to a traditional slider. It’s not a pitch that German has shown he could throw consistently as of yet, but the Yankees do believe he can with more reps. That pitch will be the make or break pitch when it comes to German’s future as a starter within the Yankees organization.
Starter or Reliever?
The Yankees will face a decision on how they want to continue to develop Frank German. German will not be able to be a starter at the MLB level without further progression on his breaking ball. If he can’t, he definitely can transition to the bullpen focusing on his two best pitches. German does have two pitches that would play right now at the MLB level. His fastball that sits in the upper 90s with run and his sinking change would help him replicate a pitcher like Tommy Kahnle. Of course, the Yankees hope is that they can continue to develop that slider to make him a three-pitch guy which would assist in his progression as a starter. There is definitely potential with German, it’s all about fine-tuning a few things. Whether it’s the path of the bullpen or the path of a starter, the tools are there to make German an impact pitcher at the MLB level one day.