Sizing Up The Starting Pitchers - Part One

Bryan Mitchell has pure electric stuff

PinstripesPlus.com analyzes the Yankees' starting pitching prospects. Which prospects are the ones that have the highest ceilings? Which are the ones that are closest to the Major Leagues? These questions are answered in Part One of our two part series on the Yankees' starting pitching prospects.

Highest Ceiling

RHP, Rafael DePaula: Normally we don't include pitchers from the Dominican academy here but DePaula is a special case since he already has two plus pitches in his arsenal even before making his way States-side. He also struck out 85 batters in just 62 Dominican Summer League innings and held batters to a paltry .162 average.

The tremendous numbers are just the gravy, however. The meat of his game is his mid-90s fastball and plus breaking ball, and the changeup, easily his weakest pitch entering the 2012 campaign, has shown improvement and has long-term above average potential. He still has to command the fastball better but there's no doubt that he has potential frontline starting stuff if the command and the changeup improve.

RHP, Gabe Encinas: One of a couple of pitchers in this group who doesn't exactly have the numbers behind him to prove his tremendous upside, Encinas could easily fall into the 'sleeper' category after finishing his 2012 season going 3-7 with a 4.97 ERA and nearly as many strikeouts as walks for the Staten Island Yankees.

The fact is though he was sitting 94-96 mph by season's end and both his curveball and changeup were flashing plus potential, albeit inconsistently. Some may feel it is premature to put him in this category until he can show better command of his pitches and it wouldn't be a bad argument to make, but short-season league pitchers with his kind of stuff don't exactly grow on trees either.

RHP, Giovanny Gallegos: Gallegos doesn't top out in the high-90s just yet like some of these other guys, but what he does have is plus command of an above average fastball and a plus curvebal, and he has some impressive numbers to back up the stuff too -- eleven of his twelve 2012 outings with the Gulf Coast League Yankees were scoreless.

He also has a ton of room to fill out his slender frame, leading many to believe his 92-93 mph fastball has the chance to add a couple of ticks in the coming years as he matures, and the average changeup has room to get better too. He has a nice balance of current high pitch-ability and long-term growth.

PLUS PITCH-ABILITY: Gallegos has high pitching acumen to go with his now above average stuff. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
RHP, Ty Hensley: This year's first round pick was projected to go much higher in the draft but reportedly fell to the Yankees because of some perceived shoulder issues. When healthy he's yet another guy who sits in the 92-95 mph range, boasts a plus breaking ball, and shows an advanced changeup.

Like Gallegos he has a very projectable frame that could add power as he matures, he shows a high level of advanced pitch-ability at a young age, and the kind of changeup that could become an above average or plus pitch down the road.

RHP, Bryan Mitchell: Like Encinas, Mitchell could fall into the 'sleeper' category because the national media and majority of fans simply can't buy into his tremendous ceiling because Mitchell has yet to post the kind of stats to back it up, especially after posting a 4.58 ERA in low-A Charleston and walking 72 batters in 120 innings.

The fact is he has the highest average velocity fastball among starting pitchers in the entire organization, sitting mostly in the 94-96 mph range, and his curveball is devastatingly good. Even his changeup flashes plus potential on any given day although it is yet a consistent weapon for him. He just needs to relax more on the mound and set batters up better to make use of his plus stuff.

RHP, Jose Ramirez: The Dominican native has been in this category for quite some time because of his plus-plus fastball-changeup combination. He didn't have the great numbers to back it up, however, and that was mostly due to the fact that his breaking ball, which initially began as a curveball but has since become a slider, was a real work in progress until recently.

However, like Mitchell, Ramirez has the ability to sit in the mid-90s with his fastball, his changeup remains a big-time weapon, and now his once non-existent slider has become an above average big league pitch that flashes plus potential. And coming off of a 3.19 ERA, 94 K's in 98 inning performance this year, he now has the numbers to back up the plus stuff.

RHP, Angel Rincon: The Dominican native could surely fit into the 'Sleepers' category since he has really flown under the radar of national pundits despite boasting some plus stuff across the board. Part of the reason for that is the recently turned 20-year old has a grand total of just 31 innings States-side.

The fact is though he already boasts a mid-90s fastball, two above average secondary pitches which flash plus potential, and he has proven to be a very good strike-thrower at a very early stage in his development. He's kind of an Arodys Vizcaino-Jairo Heredia type hybrid coming out of the short-season leagues and just has to keep progressing and get innings under his belt to start tapping that immense potential of his.

RHP, Hayden Sharp: The former 18th round pick is the only one in this category who has yet to break into the Top 50 Yankee Prospects group so he certainly could fall into the 'Jury Is Still Out' category, especially since neither the slider nor the changeup have developed into a plus pitch yet.

However, like Ramirez and Mitchell, Sharp already sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and both of his secondary pitches have flashed above average potential at times. His mechanics are no longer raw like they were once were and his fastball command has done a complete 180 degree turnaround. Part 'sleeper' too, should those pitches continue to develop like they have been then he'll be considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization.

Closest to the Majors

LHP, Manny Banuelos: The Mexican southpaw could fall into a number of categories here, including 'Highest Ceiling' with his three plus pitches, 'The Jury Is Still Out' because it remains to be seen how quickly he'll rediscover the power in his arm after elbow surgery, or the 'Need To Make Their Move' category. The fact is though if he pitches like he had been right before going down with Tommy John surgery, he could be big league ready immediately after finishing his rehab program because the pitch-ability is there.

LHP, Shaeffer Hall: There's nothing too sexy about this former 25th round pick's game but what he is, however, is a solid four-pitch hurler who throws strikes, doesn't beat himself with walks, pitches deep into games and logs a ton of innings [he has averaged 163 innings pitched over the past two seasons] over the course of the season. He'll give up his fair share of hits too but he keeps his teams in games and gives them an opportunity to win. There are far worse fallback options.

BIG LEAGUE READY: Marshall's sinker and changeup are already big league weapons. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)
RHP, Brett Marshall: The Texas native hasn't hit the Triple-A level yet but he is coming off of a solid Double-A campaign that saw him go 13-7 with a 3.52 ERA for the Trenton Thunder with 120 strikeouts in 158 innings. He has a solid three-pitch big league mix, including an above average sinker and a plus changeup, and the slider showed some late-season consistency. It won't be long before he is a viable big league in-house option for the Yankees.

RHP, Adam Warren: Critics and fans have a bad taste in their mouths after Warren's brutal big league debut that saw him surrender six earned runs on eight hits in a little more than two innings. However, it was just one game. The fact is he has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers for the Yankees down on the farm over the past three years and while none of his pitches are dazzling, he could be a real innings eater in the starting rotation should the Yankees give him another shot.

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