As we approach the home stretch to spring training and our Yankees prospect watch series, we will follow up on number seven prospect Miguel Andujar with a newly acquired member of the Yankees organization, number six prospect according to MLB.com, LHP Justus Sheffield.
|(Photo: Mike McCann/WFAN)|
Topping out at 97 and sitting in the 93 mph range, Sheffield has good arm-side life on his fastball and adds a slider and a changeup to his three pitch repertoire. When asked, Yankees GM Brian Cashman had some very good things to say about Sheffield as reported by the New York Daily News:
"Justus Sheffield is sitting, if not at the top, towards the top of our pitching prospect side,” says Cashman. “He’s right up there with (James) Kaprielian, Chance Adams and (Luis) Severino, fighting for ‘I’m the best.’ Who’s to say he is or isn’t? Sheffield’s a three-pitch mix guy -- fastball, changeup, slider. He’s a 20-year-old that sits at 93 (mph) and tops out at 97, with an above-average slider and above-average changeup. We’ve been very excited about his makeup and development.”
|Photo: New York Daily News|
Last season Justus began the season in high-A Lynchburg in the Indians organization before heading to high-A Tampa once acquired by the Yankees. In Tampa Sheffield got off to a great start in the Yankees system going 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA over five starts while striking out 27 over his 26.0 innings pitched. His success in the Gulf Coast League prompted the Yankees to give him a start with Double-A Trenton in which he allowed just two hits over four innings while striking out a very impressive nine batters!
For his career, Sheffield has averaged over a strikeout and inning and his slider is a good swing and miss pitch. He has walked 3.3 per nine innings pitched though and will have to continue to develop better command and make better pitches within the strike zone.
Although there is improvement to be made, as there is with all 20 year-olds (Sheffield turns 21 in May), there is a lot of upside and Cashman has already said that the 20 year-old will begin the season with Trenton, a very good challenge for the young man.
Along with the above mentioned young men, James Kaprielian, Chance Adams and Luis Severino, the Yankees have a great group of young pitching prospects who are not too far away from the big leagues and a couple like Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns who are knocking on the door. If even two or three of those six become legit middle-to-front of the rotation starters, the Yankees should be set up for success for the foreseeable future. As much as some have given Brian Cashman a hard time, the last two years or so he has really built a formidable list of prospects that should propel the Yankees back to the glory days in just a few short years, hopefully sooner!
|(Four Seam Images/AP)|
|Photo of: Jordan Montgomery|
Sheffield has the makings of a two or three type starter. He had a hiccup in 2015 in in which he was arrested for aggravated criminal trespassing and underage drinking and although he is ashamed of it, he sees it as a learning experience and a chance to continue to mature. He seems to have moved on, grown up and by all accounts, minus the one blemish, has a very good reputation.
I will be following Justus and the rest of the arms closely this summer as they continue their journey that we all hope will lead to success in the Bronx. Even my dad, who has been very disappointed in the Yankees and lost some interest over the past few years, says he is excited about the youth movement and watching the kids this summer!
Next week we dive into the top five as we profile one of the most inexperienced prospects but also one of the kids with the highest upside, 2016 first round pick, OF Blake Rutherford.
We are less than four weeks away from pitchers and catchers… Not that I’m counting.
BYB 'Series' Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @DManLucia
Follow me on Twitter: @DManLucia