Yankees sign former Giants 1st round pitcher to MiLB deal

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are seemingly always active when it comes to supporting their bullpen and finding value in pitchers that others overlook. On Tuesday, the team signed Phil Bickford to a minor league deal, a former first-round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants back in 2015.

Now 28 years old, Bickford has pitched 180.2 innings at the MLB level, sporting a 4.43 ERA. Last season, he tossed 67.1 innings between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, enjoying a 4.95 ERA with 10.16 strikeouts per nine, a 67.2% left-on-base rate, and a 27.9% ground ball rate. He has had some issues keeping his walk numbers down but has been solid in the homer department, allowing just 1.07 per nine.

The Yankees Found Value in Bickford

Bickford utilizes a four-seamer, slider and dabbles with a change-up. Just as Matt Blake prefers, he leans on the fastball and slider combination, touching 93.7 mph.

Interestingly, opposing hitters batted .183 against his four-seamer last season, a great number that suggests there’s room for upside. His slider wasn’t as effective, generating a .325 batting average with about league-average movement. However, his fastball generated 6% more vertical movement with 15.4 inches of drop compared to the average, suggesting that Blake may look to leverage that specific pitch.

He may try to introduce a sweeper to his arsenal since his slider has been a liability. The Yankees have focused on capitalizing on strengths and refining weaknesses. The Bombers are always looking for plug-and-play relief arms, and Bickford may be an interesting player who will make an impact this year at some point if need be.

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