After years of selling off the farm, the New York Yankees have a slew of young arms, ready and brimming with confidence to get to the next level.
In the past, New York would trade some young talent for a pricey free agent or aging star. Times are changing and this year's spring training proves the farm system is alive and well.
This spring training is one of the most exciting times for a Bomber prospect trying to show the coaching staff that his arsenal is ready for primetime. This current crop of pitchers are making their second consecutive spring training with the Major League club.
Manny Banuelos, 20, and Dellin Betances, 24, are two the youngsters that Yankee fans have heard so much about, with both players getting a spot in MLB's Top 100 prospects. Betances, a right hander, was a September call up last year and pitched 2 2/3 innings for the Yankees. "That experience has helped me on the mental side, just to slow everything down," Betances speaking to the Bergen Record.
Banuelos is the lefty everyone is drooling over, though last year he had a tough time commanding his fastball after making the jump to Triple-A. Some in the Yankee hierarchy believe Banuelos may have been overwhelmed by all the hype. Both players are trying to make that leap, which doesn't just mean commanding your pitches, but showing the mental fortitude to compete.
Manager Joe Girardi believes that their body language and presence on the mound is one of the aspects of pitching people forget. "Do they walk out with an air that they can do this?" Girardi talking to the media. "Or is it , I'm not sure I can do this."
Both youngsters split time between AA-Trenton and AAA-Scranton Wilkes-Barre posting excellent strikeout totals, but giving up too many walks. Banuelos and Betances are expected to start at AAA this coming season to continue to increase their innings and refine their pitches.
Betances and Banuelos are trying not to think about the attention, rather concentrate on working hard to correct mistakes and grow into what everyone expects.
The other pitchers, all right handed and college products, are David Phelps, 25, and 24 year olds Adam Warren and D.J. Mitchell. According to Yankee pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, Phelps has the edge over the rest because he has command of four pitches. Last year the Notre Dame grad had 18 starts for AAA-Scranton Wilkes-Barre and went 6-6 with a 3.19 ERA. Also pitching for the Yankee Triple-A affiliate Mitchell (13-9, 3.18 ERA, 24 starts) and Warren (6-8, 3.60 ERA, 27 starts) posted decent records.
The youth movement has already begun in the starting rotation with Ivan Nova, 24, Michael Pineda, 23,and if Phil Hughes, 26, bounces back three of the five starting pitching slots will be occupied by players under the age of 30. That gives the young arms more incentive knowing the Yankees have committed to getting younger in the rotation.
The final test will be to prove to themselves and the coaching staff that they are up to the challenge if called upon during the season.
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