Yankees might’ve found a diamond in the rough with young bullpen arm

yankees, aaron boone
Apr 28, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) makes a pitching change during the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees’ top outfield prospect Jasson Dominguez stole the show during the team’s spring training opener against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday afternoon. Despite the loss, Dominguez launched a 420-foot home run to left center field, showcasing the elite power he brings to the table. Dominguez has only ever reached a competitive level that features Double-A talent, but doing it against Major Leaguers certainly showcases development and timetable for promotion.

Nonetheless, while all the headlines are focused on Dominguez, one unknown bullpen arm may be a diamond in the rough for the Yankees. 26-year-old prospect Alex Mauricio put together an excellent performance against the Phillies in his first spring training action.

Mauricio wasn’t a known commodity but was invited to spring training after performing in High-A with Hudson Valley during the 2022 season. Interestingly, Mauricio retired after the 2019 campaign but decided to return, signing a free-agent deal with he Bombers. He pitched 37.2 innings last year and recorded a 4.78 ERA. He hosted nearly 11 strikeouts per nine with a 67% left-on-base rate and a 31% ground ball rate. He barely gave up any home runs, but his ERA suggests he went through a few struggles getting back into baseball shape.

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The Yankees saw some serious potential in Alex Mauricio on Saturday:

Mauricio recorded three straight strikeouts against the Phillies in his lone inning of action. Mauricio features a 4-seam fastball that hovers around 95.8 mph with 2,510 RPMs of spin. He also features a cutter that averages 88.5 mph with 2,666 RPMs of spin. His cutter interestingly generates 6 inches of sweep which makes it a hybrid between a slider.

Mauricio features solid velocity on his pitches and clearly has some generous break, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him elevate to Double-A Somerset if he continues to perform well in spring training. Considering he’s a bit older at 26 years old, it is easy to overlook him as a legitimate contributor down the road, but his excellent outing certainly suggests he has the stuff to reach a higher level of play.

At this point in his career, Alex seems to be a bit streaky. During the month of July last year, he enjoyed a 0.93 ERA across seven games, allowing just three hits in 9.2 innings.

In July, things came crashing back down to earth, hosting a 7.71 ERA across seven innings. He allowed nine hits and six earned runs with one homer. If he can put together a more consistent base of work, the Yankees can justify elevating him through the system quickly given his age, but there is some untapped potential to expand upon.