The Yankees acquired right-handed pitcher Zack Littell in November 2016 when they traded left-handed relief pitcher James Pazos to the Seattle Mariners. The 21-year-old was originally drafted by Seattle in the eleventh round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Eastern Alamance High School.
After signing, Littell reported to Arizona where he would make his professional debut with the Arizona League Mariners. In 10 games, seven starts, he earned a 5.94 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 13 walks in 33 1/3 innings. Opponents hit .291 against him.
Littell earned himself a promotion to the Appalachian League for the 2014 season, when he suited up for the Pulaski Mariners. With Pulaski, he was 5-5 with a 4.52 ERA over 13 starts. Opponents hit .275 against him and walked 12 times.
In 2015, he earned a promotion yet again to the Clinton LumberKings in the Midwest League. In his first taste of full season ball, he earned a 3-6 record with a 3.91 ERA in 21 starts, striking out 84 in 112 2/3 innings.
Littell returned to the Midwest League to start the season, and in 16 starts he earned a 2.75 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 97 2/3 innings. He earned himself a promotion to Advanced-A Bakersfield where he continued his success with a 8-1 record and a 2.51 ERA in 12 games, 11 starts and striking out an additional 61 batters in 68 innings.
In the playoffs, this past season Littell appeared in just one game for the Bakersfield Blaze, and in 7 1/3 innings he struck out 11 batters and allowed only one run on four hits and a walk.
He earned Pitcher of the Week honors twice in 2016, first June 12, 2016, and the second Aug. 21. He went on to win Player of the Month for the California League in July.
Zack Littell’s fastball is his best pitch, sitting in the low 90s and tops out in the mid-90s. He attacks hitters, setting up his curveball which is easily his best secondary pitch. He is working on developing his changeup, a pitch he has said he needs to take velocity off.
Baseball America rated Littell to have the best curveball in the entire Mariners system. MLB Pipeline had him listed as the #14 prospect in the Seattle farm system as well as was named Mariners prospect of the year by MLB.com.
In his first season as a Yankees prospect, you will see Littell don the pinstripes with the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League. If he continues to develop the way he has been, then he will likely see time in Double-A with the Trenton Thunder.