Jonathan Holder was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees.
Holder played three seasons for the Mississippi State Bulldogs prior to being selected by the Yankees. He currently holds the school record for saves in a season (21) and in a career (37). Jonathan’s 2012 and 2013 seasons garnered Freshman All-American and All-American honors, respectively.
In 91 career relief appearances for Mississippi State, he owns a remarkable 1.59 ERA.
In his professional debut, Holder went a combined 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA for the Gulf Coast Yankees 2 (Rookie) and Staten Island Yankees (Class A – Short Season). The 6’2 right-hander tossed 36.1 innings, allowed 42 hits, 16 earned runs, 13 walks and struck out 34.
Jonathan spent most of the 2015 campaign with the Tampa Yankees (Class A – Advanced) where he was tied for the team lead in wins with seven. His performance earned league wide recognition as he was named to the Florida State League All-Star team.
In all, Holder combined to go 7-6 with a 2.52 ERA in pitching for Tampa, Gulf Coast Yankees 2, and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple A). Jonathan pitched well enough to hold the fourth lowest ERA in the entire Yankees farm system. He also held opposing hitters to a minuscule .226 (101-447) batting average.
Contrary to Holder’s previous roles out of the bullpen, the Yankees primarily used him as a starter.
After moving back to the bullpen, the Gulfport, Mississippi native made his major league debut on September 2, 2016 in Baltimore against the Orioles. His brilliant performance in the minor leagues made such a compelling case for General Manager Brian Cashman to add Holder to the Yankees 40 man roster and put him in the Yankees bullpen.
In 65.1 combined innings pitched for the RailRiders, Trenton Thunder (Double A), and Tampa Yankees, he went 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA. In Scranton, Holder was nearly perfect, going 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA. He held hitters to a combined .160 batting average against and posted a 0.66 WHIP.
His minor league success did not immediately translate into the big leagues. In eight appearances for the Yankees, hitters batted .258 against Holder and tagged him for an ERA of 5.40.
The 235 pound right-hander throws four pitches. His repertoire features a fastball, splitter, cutter, and a curveball. His fastball averaged 93.16 according to Statcast, however, the pitch ranges anywhere from 91-96 miles per hour. He throws his cutter around 88 miles per hour and his curveball around 75 miles per hour. His splitter has been used sparingly ever since he moved back into the bullpen. At the major league level, Jonathan tossed his fastball 43%, splitter 1%, cutter 33%, and curveball 22% of the time.
Holder features plus command, making him a very effective and efficient pitcher. His contains a ‘bulldog’ mentality on the mound because of his ability to attack hitters and throw strikes. Holder likes to pitch up in the zone to generate swings and misses, especially with two strikes. He is able to repeat his max effort delivery on a consistent basis.
The 23 year old, is also very effective against left handed batters. Opposing Major League left handed hitters posted a slash line of just .143/.125/.286. Righties were able to achieve more success, hitting .292/.393/.458.
Holder looks to gain momentum by having a strong spring training. Posting good numbers this spring will almost certainly give him a spot in a middle relief role out of Joe Girardi’s bullpen this season. ZiPS projects Holder to throw 67 innings, and go 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA.