Yankees’ manager makes it clear that exciting pitching prospect will remain a starter

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There’s plenty of excitement as the New York Yankees begin having live batting practice sessions, and among pitchers who threw today was right-handed pitching prospect Will Warren. Ranked as a top 10 prospect in the organization and one of the 100 best prospects in baseball by ESPN and FanGraphs, the 24-year-old has a chance to turn plenty of heads in Spring Training. That being said, there’s been some talk about potentially slotting him into a bullpen role and breaking camp with the team, but Aaron Boone shot down the idea of using Warren as a reliever right now.

When asked about it, he said emphatically “He’s a starter”, and it seems the Yankees will stretch him out and prepare him to fill a rotation spot if there’s an injury at any point in the rotation.

Will Warren To Remain a Starter for the Yankees

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees pitchers workout during spring training practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Boone is making it clear that Will Warren will be a starter for the Yankees, and it’s clear that they have high hopes for the right-hander, as he’s viewed as a potential arm in the rotation. He’ll have a chance to display his excellent array of pitches and impress the organization, although last season did a lot of that leg work for him. Warren had a 124 Stuff+ in Triple-A, and between Double-A and Triple-A posted a 3.35 ERA with 149 strikeouts in 129 innings, sporting an excellent sinker and sweeper combination.

In a recent interview we did with the Southeastern Louisiana product, he discussed how the additions of a four-seamer and cutter over the last year have helped him against left-handed batters, who have always been a thorn in his side. He really took off in the month of September, pitching to a 0.63 ERA while holding opposite-handed hitters to a .300 OPS and making a name for himself in the organization.

“I went in the offseason, worked on the cutter and the four-seam…when I made that strong to the Triple-A season it was more of commanding my cutter, my four-seam, [and] my sinker all at once…if I can command those I can constanly keep them guessing and use all three then they all move differently.”

– Will Warren

The development and maturation of his repitoire have been excellent, and the Yankees are hoping that he can make the jump to the Major Leagues.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Yankees
Sep 22, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luke Weaver (30) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

How the Yankees choose to navigate their depth chart remains to be seen, but one would expect that Luke Weaver will be the team’s sixth starter if they were to sustain an early-season injury. Will Warren could factor into the rotation depending on how the current Major League arms hold up, but if he were to be promoted it would be for a starting role, not a bullpen one. That makes sense given the fact that they would have to place Warren on their 40-man roster, and that starts his service clock.

Going to Luke Weaver for now instead gives them the most roster flexibility and gives them time to assess their roster situation before ultimately beginning that timer on Will Warren. Some may argue that going to a journeyman veteran over an exciting young prospect is nonsensical, but the Yankees like what they saw in Weaver last season, and getting to see what he can do is valuable as well. It creates a bit of an undefined role for Warren heading into Spring Training, but all hands will have to be on deck this season if they want their pitching staff to hold up for 162 games.

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