Yankees rookie pitcher fighting for roster spot after solid game one performance

New York Yankees, Michael King

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.

Should the New York Yankees Acquire Kris Bryant?

New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant

The off-season is finally coming to an end, and with baseball back there’s a lot to look forward to in 2020. With the emergence of young teams after a wild offseason, there’s certainly a lot of competition in the league. One of those teams that are presumed to be competing are the Chicago Cubs, who have been in some trade talks. After winning a case against their former MVP winning Kris Bryant that allows them to retain an extra year of control, it seems as if their relationship has been severely damaged. This has led to the Cubs talking to other teams about a deal involving their star third baseman. One of those teams involved? The New York Yankees, but would it make sense for them to land the star 3B?

New York Yankees’ 3B Situation

The New York Yankees are in a peculiar spot at 3B. They have youngster Miguel Andujar and breakout star Giovanni Urshela as their main 3B options. Urshela is 28 and Andujar is going to be 25 in March. These two both have good cases as to why they should start at 3B, but both. raise huge question marks. Urshela has only had one good season and Andujar’s expected stats show he may not be as good as he’s shown alongside his brutal defense. With 3B not being a weak point but not being a strong point either, should the Yankees bring in the star slugger?

Why They Should Trade For Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant is a talent that is rarely seen in the MLB, a 28 year old who’s a 3-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year winner, and MVP winner. His career totals of a .901 OPS, 139 wRC+, .383 wOBA, and 27.8 fWAR in 5 seasons are really good. He’s a certified superstar, and a top 10 3B in baseball. His defense is mediocre, with -1 DRS at 3B, but it’s better than Urshela’s career -4 DRS at 3B. He also runs a 28.2 ft/sec speed, which is good for the 78th percentile. Andujar is close in speed but still slightly slower and Urshela isn’t particularly fast. The New York Yankees would be upgrading a ton at 3B, and would have an answer at 3B who’s the total package.

Why They Shouldn’t Trade For Kris Bryant

The price for such a talent isn’t cheap, and not even just in the monetary aspect. The Chicago Cubs are going to ask for a fortune for the 3B, as they won’t trade a superstar for scraps. They’re looking for players who are either impact-now or soon to be MLB ready prospects. This isn’t a matter of sending a few prospects in A ball, this is going to be trading your prized prospects. Then there’s Bryant’s free agency, which is coming in 2 years. He’s going to ask for a contract most likely of the same value if not greater than Anthony Rendon. He isn’t going to be cheap to resign, and the Yankees would be adding another $30+ million dollar deal to their payroll, with their core pieces having their free agency impending too. This deal could cripple the New York Yankees financially, and is something that is definitely going to be heavily considered.

Trying To Make a Deal?

The deal for Kris Bryant wouldn’t be a small one, you’d have to send over some premium prospects in order to land Bryant. If the New York Yankees were to do it, the deal would look a lot like this:

New York Yankees Receive:

3B/OF Kris Bryant

Chicago Cubs Receive:

3B/1B/OF Miguel Andujar
OF Clint Frazier
OF Estevan Florial
RHP Deivi Garcia
RHP Michael King

This type of deal would send shockwaves across the MLB and would deplete the Yankees farm system quite a bit.

Would you make this deal if you were either team or is this a highway robbery?

Two Yankees prospects that could find themselves in the majors in 2020

New York Yankees, Estevan Florial

The 2020 season for the New York Yankees will require a bit of creativity from the coaching staff, specifically manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach, Matt Blake.

With the departure of both Dellin Betances and Nestor Cortes Jr., the bullpen will be a tad thin, meaning a prospect could be pulled up to compensate on the back end. The signing of Gerrit Cole and return of Jordan Montgomery should supplement any bullpen deficiencies, and that’s likely what Boone is thinking after using his relief arms heavily in 2019.

Having Severino, Montgomery, Cole to add as starters will take the pressure off the bullpen, but the group will still need to have plenty of talent in case they’re called into action in an expanded way.

That’s where Michael King enters the mix. At 24-years-old, King finished last season in the minors with a 3-2 record, 5.48 ERA, 46 innings, 11 games, eight starts, 44 K, 10 BB, and 47 hits. Spring training will give us an idea of whether King or Deivi Garcia deserves the nod, but I imagine the older of the two (King) will feature in a small role in the big leagues moving forward (he’s a projected back-end starter). The Yankees’ prospect isn’t a hard-throwing pitcher, but he has excellent accuracy.

The other prospect who could play a reserve role is Estevan Florial, who has suffered through injuries the past few years. During spring training of last year, Florial broke his wrist, which forced him out after a promising start to the season.

The Dominican Republic-born center fielder has it all — strength, speed, defensive prowess, power, mental awareness, etc. At 22-years-old, Florial has plenty of time left to reach his potential and begin to tap into the natural talent he contains. However, it comes down to remaining healthy.

If Estevan can survive the spring without picking up any injuries, the Yankees could consider him as a reserve option in the outfield during the 2020 season. Allowing him to prove himself at the top level has been a long time coming, but if he requires more time in the minors, he has the time to burn.

With Aaron Hicks set to miss a significant chunk of the 2020 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yanks have Mike Tauchman, Tyler Wade, and Clint Frazier as reserves. Don’t be surprised to see Florial make a jump into that backup unit if he shows out this spring.

New York Yankees betting on young pitching prospect to make the jump in 2020

New York Yankees, Michael King

With the signing of Gerrit Cole this offseason, the starting pitching rotation now features one of the best pitchers in baseball, and while the front end of the unit is stacked full of talent, the back end is reliable. The return of Jordan Montgomery offers the New York Yankees an optimistic arm as the No. pitcher in the rotation, that’s if J.A. Happ continues to plummet down the rankings.

Beyond Happ and Montgomery, Domingo German will eventually return after serving a 62 game suspension to begin the 2020 season, and he will battle it out for a spot at the bottom of the rotation as well. With the influx of talent in the starting unit, it leaves the bullpen up for interpretation, and it’s where an option like Michael King might work his way in next season.

The departure of both Dellin Betances and Nestor Cortes Jr. leaves a spot open for the taking, and King could fit the bill nicely if he can prove to be a consistent option. Spring training should give us a solid idea of what he’s capable of and if he can be trusted during the regular season.

What should the New York Yankees expect from Michael King?

The 24-year-old righty quickly worked his way through the Yankees’ farm system in 2019, and he likely would have made his first appearance in the Bronx if not for elbow discomfort.

The Yankees shouldn’t expect much out of King in 2020, despite his rise through the ranks. He has an above-average ground-ball rate, which is very prevalent in the Yankees’ pitching corps. Good infield defense is a priority with pitchers boasting high ground-ball numbers.

While King projects as a back-end starter, spending time in the bullpen is a reality, he will likely endure for the next few seasons. However, it will give him the proper development time and experience against big-league hitters. Considering the lack of depth in the bullpen, it’s possible King plays a more prominent part than expected.

New York Yankees: 2 position battles to watch out for during spring training

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have done a stellar job meshing homegrown talent with free-agent signings in recent years, and now, they’re ready to enjoy the fruits that are ripening ahead of the 2020 season.

Signing arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Gerrit Cole puts the Yankees on the fast-track for a World Series appearance next season, which would be the first time in over a decade that the team reached the feat. Aaron Boone’s squad is stocked full of talent at starting positions, and the hope is that injuries won’t be as much of a problem this time around after the hiring of Eric Cressey to head their strength and conditioning department.

The biggest question lies within the depth of the team, specifically at the back-end of the starting pitching rotation and backup infielder spot. Every good team has a reliable pitching staff and utility infielder that can move around if need be. While the Bombers have DJ LeMahieu featuring as their primary utility option, they prefer for him to remain steady at second base than fill in for injured players.

Breaking down the two New York Yankees spring training position battles:

1.) The fifth starter

With J.A. Happ seemingly staying for the final year of his two-year deal, we can expect him to compete with the returning Jordan Montgomery. Happ, who had a disappointing 2019 campaign, was solid in his first year with the Bombers (2018), but his falloff opened up the floodgates for others to take his spot. By the end of last season, Happ was barely considered a bullpen arm, and the postseason he couldn’t be trusted.

Happ is set to earn $17 million next season, meaning the Yanks will dish out a nice chunk of salary for his below-average services. There were talks of a potential trade going down, but nothing has materialized up to this point.

The big competition will boil down to Montgomery, though, who posted two consecutive seasons of sub-.400 ERA baseball before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. He displayed incredible curveball numbers, and while Michael King has reached the headlines in a potential starting role, I can’t imagine him beating out Monty or Happ for the 5th spot. This position battle will most certainly come down to spring training.

2.) The backup infielder

The final utility option comes down to either Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada, both of whom have looked good at times and inconsistent at others. The big positive that Wade possesses is his lefty bat, and with the Yankees lacking that factor in the hitting order, he could be an excellent addition if called upon. Also, his speed is elite, enabling great base running and defensive attributes.

The significant advantage that Estrada holds is his ability to plug into shortstop, which is the hardest position to play at the major league level. He has a bit more power in his bat that Wade, but that factor won’t mean much considering they aren’t power hitters.

I like Wade in this scenario, simply because the Yankees lack elite speed on the bases and lefty bats. Also, a bit of consistency could help Wade unlock his potential, something that was stripped away from him in 2019 after being sent down to high-A ball after a short stint on the active roster.

New York Yankees: 3 prospects to watch during spring training

New York Yankees, Michael King

With spring training just around the bend, the New York Yankees will get another look at their prospects and if they’re capable of making the jump to the MLB. There are several reserve slots open to young players — the departure of Cameron Maybin opens up an opportunity to be added to the active roster.

Here are three New York Yankees prospects that could make the jump in 2020:

1.) Estevan Florial

Florial has been in the works for years now, and several timely injuries have minimalized his progression towards earning a role on the top team. A broken hamate bone and a broken wrist limited his sample size in 2019, and the previous two years were hampered by ailments as well.

However, Florial has all of the physical tools to develop into a quality player, especially in the outfield. He has elite speed, solid contact, and defensive attributes. He’s flashed potential to be great, and 2020 might finally be his year to crack the team, but he must have an excellent spring training. During last year’s session, he hit .368 with a homer and four stolen bases. Replicating that performance will significantly improve his chances of getting the call.

2.) Michael King

With Domingo German’s suspension taking place into the regular season of 2019, Michael King was his subsequent replacement.

“Pure joy,” King said about his emotions when being called up. “I had to immediately call my parents, I texted one of my buddies, it was just pure joy.”

The Yankees’ No. 5 ranked prospect earned a 2.93 ERA and 28-19 record in the minors, and he’s known explicitly for his below-average groundball rate. Last season with Scranton/Wilkes Barre, King logged a 3-1 record with a 4.18 ERA. While his numbers at High-A ball don’t scream efficiency, he has proved he can be a successful pitcher in small doses. Spring training should give him the chance to prove his worth to manager Aaron Boone. I expect to see him feature in a bullpen role next season.

3.) Deivi Garcia

The Yankees’ No. 1 prospect has gotten plenty of hype in recent years, but last season was his breakout campaign. He climbed to High-A ball in just three months, showing the speed of his development at 21-years-old. If the Bombers include him for spring training, he will have the opportunity to showcase his incredible ball-control and speed for a youngster. Getting a good look at him will be a priority for Boone, I believe, but they may keep him in Scranton next season, allowing him to proceed with his development at his most challenging level.

With the Rail Riders, Garcia squeezed together a 1-3 record and 5.40 ERA. His eight home runs in 11 games quadrupled his HR total before joining the top minor league squad. Clearly, he was not prepared to take on this level of talent, and it could be due to the juiced baseballs being used last year.

However, several scouts haven’t been impressed by Garcia’s stuff, despite his youthfulness, stating:

In all honesty, I don’t understand the hype. I’ve seen him pitch a few times and the stuff just doesn’t grade out to be a top of the line starter. Maybe with time he can develop since he’s really young, but I just don’t see top arm talent when I see him.

With the stuff he currently has, he’s projecting to be a back-end starter. I think he could be good at the MLB level, but nothing special.

Garcia has a shot to feature in a small role with the Yankees in 2020, but it’s very dependant on how he looks this spring.

How will the Yankees utilize Michael King in 2020?

New York Yankees, Michael King

The Yankees seem to be focused on upgrading their bullpen with the potential that Dellin Betances could be walking in free agency after suffering a torn Achilles during his September debut. If Betances takes his talents elsewhere on a one-year, “prove it” deal, general manager Brian Cashman will have to find a supplement for his loss.

Reports have stated that the Bombers are intrigued by both Tim Hill of the Kansas City Royals and Blake Treinen of the Oakland Athletics, but they might have a youngster waiting in the wings prepared to take over an impactful role in the bullpen.

The starting rotation is also lacking a true fifth-starter, as J.A. Happ and Domingo German cannot be trusted to either perform well or play during the 2020 season at all. Happ struggled significantly last season, finishing with a 4.91 ERA and 34 homers allowed. This was by far the worst season of his career, but he will be looking to bounce back.

German, on the other hand, is caught up in a domestic violence case that forced him to miss the entire postseason. The expectation is that he will miss double-digit games, while the amount has been specified yet.

The supplemental pitcher for the bullpen or even the No. 5 starting spot in the rotation could be none other than Michael King. At 25-years old, his progression has been steady and consistent. He made his major-league debut last September, giving up two hits and one run over 2.0 innings. He struck out one batter. It’s impossible to judge him off such a small sample size, and factoring in the jitters should make him a virtual rookie in 2020.

He may play a much more prominent role next season, as I expect he will.

What makes Michael King attractive for the Yankees top team?

King centers his game around contact and command. His groundball rate of 45% makes him a great double-play situational pitcher, as well. Those numbers should translate well at the MLB level.

The prospect will get ample opportunity to play this spring, giving him the best chance to show he can be a regular option with the Yankees in 2020.

Who will the New York Yankees protect in the Rule 5 Draft?

New York Yankees, Michael King

The New York Yankees have several important decisions to make this offseason, one of which depends on the Rule 5 Draft and what young players they must protect. For those who aren’t familiar with the Rule 5 Draft, here’s a short description from the MLB.

A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days.

Only specific teams are given the ability to steal players from other organizations (if they cannot fill their 40-man roster). This puts players like Deivi Garcia, Estevan Florial, Michael King, Luis Gil, and Nick Nelson on the block.

The Bombers elevated several players this week, including Garcia, Florial, Gil, Brooks Kriske, Luis Medina, Nick Nelson, and Miguel Yajure to the 40-man roster, while releasing Jacoby Ellsbury and designated Greg Bird and Nestor Cortes Jr. for assignment.

Holding onto those players was expected, especially Garcia, who could feature in a bullpen role next season.

The New York Yankees need to play it safe:

Garcia is the top prospect in the Yankees’ farm system, and his elevation from low-A ball to high-A ball in just three months proves his value to the club. The young pitcher has fantastic stuff (165 K in 111 1/3 innings in 2019). While his pitching numbers are substantial, his 5-foot-9 stature has presented issues for scouts evaluating him from a professional perspective.

Despite his lack of size, there’s no chance the Yankees allow another team a sniff at their top prospect. Keeping him protected is a priority, but it also leaves the door open for the other youngsters to be snatched by lesser teams. Michael King will also likely be added to the 40-man roster, but Florial, who has battled constant injuries, could be a target for opposing teams.

Yankees have two great youth players preparing to make jump to majors in 2020

New York Yankees, Michael King

With free agency just around the bend for the New York Yankees, their priorities lie in several different locations. The starting pitching unit and infield mark two positions of need, but the bullpen could also use another reliable arm to solidify its dominance. Dellin Betances could be the perfect fit if general manager Brian Cashman elects to bring him back on a one-year deal if his torn Achilles is healing correctly.

The Yankees also have two youth prospect players they can rely on if needed in 2020. Both Michael King and Deivi Garcia can be utilized in the bullpen or as starters if injuries plague the team next season.

What can the two Yankees prospects offer?

Michael King was impressive in 2019 in the minor-leagues. He has a complete opposite array of qualities compared to Albert Abreu. He has remarkable command on his pitches, and his accuracy is deadly, but he doesn’t throw high-speed pitches, which is something the Yankees prefer with their starters.

However, Masahiro Tanaka has found a way to work-around a low 90’s fastball, which is similar to how King approaches his game. He could be utilized in a fifth-starter role. King struggled at times at the Tiple-A level, finishing up 2019 with a 4.18 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 23.2 innings pitched. That’s an average of over one strikeout per inning, not a bad ratio by any means.

The Yankees could use a consistent arm in the bullpen next season if they’re willing to test out King at the professional level. His two scoreless innings last season was a glimpse at his capabilities, but next year should present a bigger sample size. He should be ready to make the jump in 2020; otherwise, he could be used as trade bait this offseason.

Deivi Garica, on the other hand, was the youngest pitcher in the Yankees’ farm-system to feature at the Triple-A level in 2019. He went from Low-A ball to Double-A in three months, showing off his fastball and impressive curve. He struggled a bit at Triple-A, but we can cough that up to an elevation in quality in such a short period; eventually, Garcia was going to hit a road-block.

Garcia has fantastic stuff, but he needs to real in his control of the baseball. His BB/9 rose to over 4.00 in the high-minors last season. His fastball and curveball combination increased his K% exponentially, and at just 20-years-old, he can become an excellent starter for the Bombers in the future. I expect to see him feature in a bullpen role next season, at least in a small sample size to gauge his readiness.

I do not see him as a trade-option for the Yankees.

Are the New York Yankees the favorites to sign Gerrit Cole this offseason?

Could the Yankees pursue Gerrit Cole this offseason?

Gaining the best pitching baseball would not only be a massive boost to the New York Yankees starting pitching rotation, but it would provide them with a player to lean on when the going gets tough. This season, Bombers were forced to guess with the pitching at times, unsure if their starters would rise to the occasion or falter in the face of adversity.

James Paxton was one of the risers, as he pitched well in the postseason and proved his worth for 2020. J.A. Happ faltered, and Luis Severino was decent in limited action after missing a majority of the regular season. However, they have an opportunity to add an arm that would revolutionize their team and make reaching the World Series that much easier.

Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole is the featured pitcher, and the Yankees will undoubtedly make a bid after speaking with mega-agent, Scott Boras. Cole will likely earn $30+ million per season, which could cause issues with the Yankees’ luxury tax threshold, especially if other players are being considered at a high price point.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon has also been linked with the Bombers, but having Miguel Andujar and Gio Urshela should satisfy their needs at the hot-corner if they have a legitimate shot with Cole.

Why the New York Yankees could lose out on Gerrit Cole:

There’s always the possibility that Cole takes his talents elsewhere, but there’s no indication that he does not favor the Yankees. He grew up a fan of the illustrious franchise but also comes from the West Coast, which could influence his decision. Alternatively, he did play for the Houston Astros in the south-east, which makes him coming up North a bit more realistic.

It could ultimately come down to money, and which team is willing to splash the cash for the best pitcher in the MLB. General manager Brian Cashman can not low-ball Cole in this process because any disrespect could send him to a different city.

Theoretically, if the Yankees managed to sign Cole, their starting rotation would look something like this:

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Luis Severino
  3. James Paxton
  4. Domingo German (if not suspended)
  5. Masahiro Tanaka
  6. J.A. Happ
  7. Jordan Montgomery
  8. Michael King