The Yankees have been extremely busy on the MiLB transaction front, signing their 4th and 5th players to MiLB deals in the last week. I imagine the Yankees want to secure their organizational depth in case of injuries, and both of these players provide some depth for their AAA and maybe even their MLB squad for a few reps if they need an inning or two or just a position player to fill a roster spot. The median (most likely outcome) is that these players are stashed away at the AAA level, but there’s still the upside that they’re impact players for any period of time at the MLB level.
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Speed and Defense With Michael Hermosillo:
The Yankees let go of OF Tim Locastro and currently only have Estevan Florial behind Aaron Hicks on the depth chart. The defense and speed are remarkable, with an 82nd Percentile Sprint Speed to pair with throws averaging 88.5 MPH (75th Percentile) and a career 7 OAA in the outfield. He’s a positive defender at all three positions, and if Florial is to struggle as he did last year with MLB pitching, Michael Hermosillo could serve as the next man up if an outfielder goes down to to injury as their 4th OF.
Hermosillo is a spark plug due to his raw athletic tool, but doesn’t provide much with the bat at all. His Max Exit Velocity in his career is a 108.8 MPH HR he hit off of Tyler Mahle in 2021, and while that ranked in the 58th Percentile, a 37.1% Whiff% in his career suggests he has too much swing-and-miss for a batter who has league average raw power at best. His offensive profile isn’t suited for much success, but he is just 27 years old and could perhaps unlock a little bit of a better hit tool with the Yankees.
We probably won’t be seeing much of Hermosillo if things go to plan, but adding more speed and defense in your outfield depth doesn’t hurt. He’s been a hitter with tons of loft in his swing (19.9° career Launch Angle), so perhaps the Yankees can get him to limit his extremely elevated swing tendencies since it generates a low BABIP, which is reflected in his career .242 BABIP. He’s speedy and has great defensive tools, and maybe he gets to his projected 92 wRC+ and is a fan-favorite bench piece in 2023.
Demarcus Evans Has a Unique Four-Seam Fastball:
Demarcus Evans spent his 2022 season in AAA, where he struggled to be much more than a solid reliever at that level, posting a 3.82 ERA and a 15.1% K-BB%. He generates a ton of strikeouts (30.1% K%) but walks too many batters (15.1% BB%), and while issues with command are clearly important to mention, he does boast a Four-Seam Fastball with tons of Induced Vertical Break. A strong IVB will result in a FB like Gerrit Cole’s having that “rising” effect as it fights the force of gravity on its plane to the strike zone due to backspin. The Yankees probably identified this unique quality and figured they should give him a shot.
Demarcus Evans generates a whopping 22.3 inches of induced vertical break, and while his last MLB outing came in 2021, it registers as the most induced vertical break on any pitch minimum 100 pitches thrown since 2021. No fastball in baseball fights the force of gravity better than Evans’ FB, and while it sits at 91-92 MPH, we’ve seen him sit 94 in the past during the 2020 season. If his velocity can get to that 93-94 MPH range with that type of movement, he’ll be a force of nature for the bullpen, but that’s assuming he’s able to figure out his in-zone and out-of-zone command with the Yankees.
He also boasts a cutter that generated a 37% Whiff% and .195 xwOBA, and that’s due to its strong sweeping action for a cutter that makes it more of a hard slider, and it’s been a pitch he’s been able to get swings and misses on reliably. Cutters are great because they run low BABIPs, so you can see pitchers overperform their peripherals with better run prevention since normalizing the BABIP against for them overlooks how their pitch design is hit-averse. Nestor Cortes and Drew Rasmussen are prominent fastball/cutter guys who can run ERAs under three even if they don’t have peripherals that suggest they should, and Evans, with better command, can mirror these two.
Evans also has a curveball that doesn’t stand out movement-wise, but perhaps that unique limited movement is why it performed so well with a 40.6% Whiff% and .279 wOBA against. Domingo German’s curveball also doesn’t get a lot of drop or sweep and performs very well, so perhaps Evans is able to model that success plan as well. Again, his median outcome is that he spends the year in AAA, but at just 26 years old,d there’s still a chance for him to put it all together and work his way to the Big Leagues again, as a Yankee or maybe on another team with more roster spots available.
The Yankees continue to look not just at the top of the market but at the depth, it has to try to improve as much as possible. These are the marks of a great organization, and it’s hard to say the Yankees don’t get great value out of their player acquisitions.