Game one of Grapefruit League play for the New York Yankees saw several vital performances from young players, as Clint Frazier started with a clean defensive game. However, one notable rookie who took the mound has been fighting to reach the big leagues for quite some time.
Michael King, who came in to relieve J.A. Happ of his duties, faced six batters, retiring all six, allowing two hits and a walk-in 1²/₃ innings. King is currently fighting for a roster spot, primarily in the bullpen as Jordan Montgomery will be elevated to the starting unit in lieu of Luis Severino and James Paxton’s injuries.
“I don’t know if I will ever feel that way,’’ King said when asked about competing for a big league rotation spot. “My whole mentality when I first came in — and that was before any type of injury — was just make it as hard of a decision as possible to send me down and I am going to keep that type of mentality. Wherever the cards fall.’’
Is Michael King ready to be called up by the Yankees?
King has only pitched two innings of MLB play, so 2020 should rightfully be his rookie campaign. He posted a 4.18 ERA with Scranton/Wilkes Barre last season, allowing three homers and logging 28 strikeouts.
It’s possible King could slide in as the 5th starter in the rotation if Paxton and Severino miss significant time. The Yankees also have Jonathan Loaisiga as an option to start, but King has the stamina to last several innings of play, given his near two-inning performance on Saturday.
The minor-league prospect will be evaluated in the coming weeks as the Bombers have 15 games remaining (including Sunday) of preseason play. Reports of Paxton potentially returning in May have bubbled to the surface, as his recovery has gone well. The expectation was that he would miss at least three months, but team officials believe he will resume throwing in 10-days.