Should the Yankees promote this exciting reliever prospect to boost bullpen?

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Jack Neely was promoted from Double-A to Triple-A in June as one of many prospects the Yankees moved up a level to kick off the summer. While the right-hander hasn’t spent much time in Scranton, he’s had an impressive start, showing off a firm fastball to pair with his excellent slider. With the deficiencies in the Yankees’ bullpen, we could see them make a change on their roster similar to the one we saw at first base when they brought up Ben Rice after just a few games in Triple-A.

The right-hander has the stuff to overwhelm MLB opponents already, but are his command and pitchability where they need to be for him to get a promotion to the Yankees soon?

Jack Neely Could Provide the Yankees a Spark in the Bullpen

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One of the biggest problems with the Yankees is that their bullpen struggles to generate swings and misses, which is important in high-leverage situations. Even a softly hit batted ball can create massive problems with runners on base sometimes the one thing you need is an enormous strikeout to get out of a jam. This is why Jack Neely becomes such an interesting option, as he has a power fastball and excellent breaking ball that should appeal to this bullpen.

Through 26 appearances at Double-A and Triple-A, Jack Neely has a 2.48 ERA and 37.7% strikeout rate, doing an excellent job of missing bats and overpowering batters. Last season he struggled a bit to limit the home run ball, but this season he has limited the longball to a sparkling 0.50 HR/9. Some pitchers have the results but not the stuff to have it carry over to the Major Leagues, but Jack Neely certainly has the arsenal to compete in the Bronx.

His four-seamer is a strong pitch, sitting between 95-96 MPH with good vertical movement that can play up in the zone, but that’s not the best pitch in his arsenal. Neely’s slider is one of the best for that kind of fastball, generating a ton of vertical drop with the separation it gets off of the fastball making it absolutely lethal in the lower parts of the strike zone. If he can continue to work up and down the zone with these two pitches, he could be a strikeout machine at the Major League level.

Something that makes Jack Neely even more impressive is the ability to deliver the ball to the plate closer than most because of his huge size. He stands in at 6’8, with 6.7 feet of extension on the four-seamer and 6.8 feet of extension on the slider as well. This gives his fastball 96.4 MPH of perceived velocity compared to the 95.6 actual velocity, and while that seems marginal, baseball is a game that can change based on variables as small as 0.8 MPH on your fastball.

Jack Neely would need to establish himself as an MLB reliever in the middle of a pennant chase as well, which is something that does inherently bring into question whether he should come up in the first place or not. As I mentioned with Ben Rice when the conversations began surrounding whether they should promote him or not, there is a lot of pressure that you immediately place on an unproven player to perform by promoting them, and that can stunt their growth.

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On the other hand, you develop prospects to either trade them away and net impact players for a pennant push, or to use them as contributors on your roster to help you win a title. The Yankees need bullpen arms now, and there’s no way to add 3-4 relievers ahead of the deadline if you also plan on addressing the rotation and lineup. As Ben Rice has stepped up and provided some nice at-bats at a position of need, Jack Neely could do the same out of the bullpen and create fewer holes on the roster.

Jack Neely shouldn’t be viewed as a savior for the Bronx Bombers, but rather as a pitcher who can give them a nice boost if he acclimates to the big leagues successfully. The worst case scenario is he doesn’t do much for the team, finds himself demoted, and they pivot elsewhere to find innings. It’s not as if the Yankees have a bullpen chock full of names who have proven themselves to be reliable options with upside either.

Steamer and Depth Charts both project Jack Neely for a below-4.00 ERA, and the right-hander has tossed 5.1 innings in Scranton with a 1.69 ERA and 28.6% strikeout rate. Only time will tell, but Neely could prove to be a very valuable weapon worth giving a chance to if the Yankees want a fresh arm in their bullpen.

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