The New York Yankees have been looking to add left-handed pitching for their bullpen during spring training, acquiring Miguel Castro from the New York Mets over the weekend. However, one of their homegrown talents has made a lasting impression on management, earning himself a spot on the opening day roster, despite all odds.
Young LHP JP Sears will make his major league debut this season. At 26 years old, Sears was previously an 11th round pick in the 2017 MLB June amateur draft out of Charleston. The Seattle Mariners initially drafted him before making his way to Tampa, the Yankees’ minor-league affiliate, in 2019.
Over the last three years, Sears has worked diligently to climb the system, reaching Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, making 25 appearances, accumulating 104 innings of action.
Sears recorded a 2.87 ERA in Triple-A with seven wins and 65 strikeouts. He gave up five homers and 41 hits but recorded a career-low of 1.9 walks per 9 and a 5.91 strikeout/walk rate.
The Yankees protected Sears last year in the Rule-5 draft, despite it never happening. There weren’t many that expected Sears to make the opening day roster, but after experiencing his best performance on Monday, lasting three innings and giving up two hits, striking out three batters, manager Aaron Boone told him the good news.
His other two performances were solid aside from one poor outing against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 30, where he gave up seven hits and five runs in just 1.2 innings. He combined for 5.0 innings of action, giving up five hits and allowing one earned run with seven strikeouts to boot.
I highly doubt the Yankees will incorporate him in high-leverage situations early on in his MLB career, but easing him into the mix and getting him some action against lesser opponents would do him well, building confidence gradually. With a healthy sample size of action in Triple-A last year, the Yankees can feel confident regarding his promotion to the big leagues.