The New York Yankees failed to bring in any top-tier pitchers during the offseason, and that may end up costing them in the long run. However, the fact they have several impressive minor league (and young major leaguers) arms who can eventually make an impact this year is undeniable.
One of those under-the-radar arms is definitely Matt Krook. The left-hander, who was taken by the Yankees in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft in late 2020, had an impressive Triple-A debut on Tuesday night.
He was on the mound for five innings in which he only conceded a couple of hits, a walk, and no runs. He struck out seven foes in his first start of the year for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
Yankees’ prospect specialist Eli Fishman talked a bit about Krook via Twitter. “Heavy sinker which produces insanely high ground ball rate. 2020 MILB Rule 5 Draft pick from Tampa, spent 2021 w/ Somerset and Scranton. Would expect to see in the big leagues at some point this season,” he tweeted.
#Yankees LHP Matt Krook for Scranton last night: 5 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 7 K’s
Heavy sinker which produces insanely high ground ball rate. 2020 MILB Rule 5 Draft pick from Tampa, spent 2021 w/ Somerset and Scranton. Would expect to see in the big leagues at some point this season. pic.twitter.com/w8EeVxye9g
— Eli Fishman (@elijfishman) April 6, 2022
Last year, the Yankees decided to make him a full-time starter. His former organization, the Tampa Bay Rays, had been alternating him between the rotation and the bullpen.
The Yankees’ prospect will go as far as his control lets him
To make a successful transition, the Yankees helped him learn a third pitch besides his excellent sinker and his slider: a cutter.
He told the San Mateo Daily Journal last summer: “The sinker and the breaking ball have always been good. It’s sort of what makes me, me. The cutter was just something, it’s easier to get in the zone because it doesn’t move quite as much. It was just good to have a third pitch. And going back to starting this year after being a reliever then past few years, I just had to get a third pitch.”
For Krook, the key will be his control. With the San Francisco Giants (his first organization) and the Rays, his BB/9 (walks per nine innings) was never lower than 5.76 in a full season. During his stint with the Double-A Somerset Patriots to start 2021, he posted a 2.15 ERA and a rock-solid (for him) 3.38 BB/9 mark.
After his promotion to Scranton, his control abandoned him somewhat (5.75 BB/9), but he was able to post a 3.17 ERA in 76.2 innings anyway.
He is off to a great start: last night, he only walked one in five frames. The Yankees will closely monitor his progress during the spring and the summer, as he is a candidate to be a contributor for the big league team in 2022.