Yankees’ overlooked free agent signing is impressing early in Spring Training

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Poteet is an arm that the New York Yankees did their homework on when they signed him, and they’ve had high hopes for him. Early into Spring Training, he’s been impressive, flashing a five-pitch mix with various movement profiles and showing strong results on the mound. He’s on the 40-man roster, meaning the Yankees can freely option him up and down from Triple-A, and he’s likely to serve as upper-level MiLB depth for the rotation in case they’re dealing with an injury.

While Spring Training results don’t matter, there’s still underlying data we can look at to see if a player’s repertoire will play at the Major League level. Poteet could end up providing some valuable innings for the Yankees in 2024 if he’s called upon to fill a role on their pitching staff.

Cody Poteet Flashing Diverse Arsenal Could Factor into Yankees’ 2024 Plans

MLB: Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays
May 25, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Cody Poteet (72) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Varying your looks is extremely important for having success as a starter at the Major League level. Cody Poteet sports two different fastballs, two different breaking balls, and a changeup. His four-seamer doesn’t have an impressive movement profile on the surface, with 14.7 inches of Induced Vertical Break, but his lower-release height and -4.6° VAA allow it to play up in the strike zone, and it grades out at a 121 Stuff+ according to Robert Frey’s model, which is an above-average pitch.

His sinker pairs well with his four-seamer, generating just 7 inches of Induced Vertical Break with 13.3 inches of arm-side run, and it works as a soft contact pitch that can keep the ball on the ground for him. Both of his fastballs range from 92-96 MPH in terms of velocity, but the fact that he has two different fastballs means that he can tunnel them and keep batters off balance. With a 174 Stuff+ on the sinker, both of those pitches are above average and share the same spin axis (01:15), which can create some deception with movement as well.

The secondaries are just as exciting as the fastballs, as Cody Poteet is one of the few pitchers who have a great feel for a changeup, and with 3.1 inches of Induced Vertical Break, it gets 11.5 inches of vertical separation off of his four-seamer, which exceeds the 10-inch differential you’re looking for when pairing a fastball and changeup. It also has a decent amount of velocity separation, and it’s a pitch he can generate swings and misses, especially against left-handed batters.

In 2022, his changeup had a glistening .225 wOBA allowed and 34.7% Whiff Rate, as it was his most-used pitch that season (38.2%) and established the rest of his arsenal. Unfortunately, his fastballs weren’t strong enough to play off of the excellent changeup, and he also hadn’t found a breaking ball he could rely upon, which might change with the Yankees’ organization. His slider has always had a good shape, but the command and usage of the pitch have resulted in poor results. If he can mix it into his repertoire the way he has in Spring Training when the games count, it could be nasty.

Poteet also mixed in a few curveballs, and the arsenal is chock full of different movement profiles based on the batter he’s facing, but the individual pitch quality is enticing as well.

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The Yankees have done an excellent of maximizing pitchers and their repertoires, and they might have found a hidden gem in Cody Poteet. How healthy he stays and how sharp the command and sequencing are will determine what he can provide for the team in 2024, but there’s a reason that they gave him an MLB deal with a spot on their 40-man roster. It’s unclear where he is on the depth chart, as Luke Weaver is expected to be the sixth starter, and he was given a guaranteed spot on their MLB roster.

Will Warren is considered to be their seventh starter, but unlike Poteet, he is yet to be placed on the 40-man roster as he hasn’t become Rule-5 eligible yet, and the Yankees are likely only going to start his service clock when they have to. It’ll be an uphill climb for Poteet in 2024 in order for him to get innings at the Major League level, but he represents one of the many interesting depth arms they’ve brought into camp. You don’t typically look at a 29-year-old with a career 4.15 ERA and just 58.2 MLB innings to break out, but this could be an exception in the current technology.

It remains to be seen if it’ll be as a starter or reliever, but Cody Poteet is an early pick to overperform his pedestrian projections and make the Yankees look like geniuses.

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