For the next few weeks, I’ll be taking both big picture and more detailed looks at the Yankee minor league system. For now, I’m going to give me best initial guesses at the Yankee minor league starting rotations. The Yankees are very deep at the upper ranks, and would be even deeper had they not lost Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Ivan Nova, Daniel McCutchen, Chase Wright, and Jason Jones to the Rule V draft, trades, and waivers.
Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees
- Phil Hughes
- Ian Kennedy
- Alfredo Aceves
- Jason Johnson
- Kei Igawa
The Scranton Yankees easily boast the strongest rotation in the International League. Hughes and Kennedy have proven to be studs at the Triple-A level, and the other three should post very good numbers. Johnson and Igawa are dead weight here, but are necessary to fill starting spots when the inevitable call-ups occur with the other three. A healthy Yankee rotation and a strong push from certain Double-A players could result in a demotion. Alan Horne will likely also displace one of these guys once the weather warms up.
- George Kontos
- Zach McAllister
- Eric Hacker
- Christian Garcia
- Humberto Sanchez
The final two spots in the Trenton rotation are really dependent upon whether or not the Yankees want to move Garcia or Sanchez to the bullpen right away. Trenton promises to be very fun to watch. Hacker is off the radar a bit, but if he can manage to stay healthy he could be a highly-ranked prospect by the end of the season. McAllister continues to be underrated by observers from outside the organization. George Kontos is the loser of the Scranton rotation sweepstakes, and will hope for an injury so that he can move up. Kontos will be Rule V eligible soon, so he’s hoping to play his way to the 40-man roster.
- Wilkins De La Rosa
- Jairo Heredia
- Ryan Pope
- Dellin Betances
- Jeremy Bleich
This is an interesting group of pitchers. Betances and Heredia are very strong prospects for very different reasons. Heredia is a young pitcher with a lot of finesse and polish, but is working on improving his above-average stuff. Dellin Betances is starting to get old, and is finally starting to make up for a lack of polish and finesse with his dynamic stuff. Both will be exciting to watch. Ryan Pope remains at Tampa after a sub-standard second half. Jeremy Bleich’s Stanford polish should serve him well in High-A, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he pitches in Trenton by July. De La Rosa is still probably headed to the bullpen, but the Yankees have him starting for now.
Lance Pendleton could be a sleeper if De La Rosa returns to the bullpen. Pendleton was drafted as a senior out of Rice University’s College World Series team back in 2005, but injuries derailed him up until now. He was strong in Charleston, and now finally gets to be challenged by better hitters.
Charleston River Dogs
- Adam Olbrychowski
- Andrew Brackman
- Casey Erickson
- Arodys Vizcaino
- Manuel Barreda
This is a very difficult rotation to predict. Adam O. could wing up in the bullpen. Casey Erickson could find himself held back for short-season ball again. Arodys Vizcaino and Manny Barreda could end up in extended spring training and then Staten Island. Noel Castillo could push someone back. Ryan Zink could start. However, this is my best guess. If reality works out like my guess, then Charleston’s rotation is all about power. Between Vizcaino, Barreda, Adam O., and Brackman, Charleston has four players who can jack it up to 95+ on occasion. However, expect a ton of walks.
The Yankees are fantastically deep in minor league starting rotations. The return of Jason Jones and Ivan Nova from the Rule V draft could make them even deeper. Nova would probably return to Tampa, while Jones might have to stick with the Trenton bullpen.
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