As we head into the beginning of the 2017 minor league season, we will be looking at various top five lists. We are starting off looking at the top five left-handed pitching prospects in the Yankees farm system. The first three names on this list are names that any prospect watcher should already know. Especially with the hot spring Jordan Montgomery has had so far.
Sheffield, 20, was one of the secondary prospects to come over in the Andrew Miller deal along with Clint Frazier, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen. The former first round pick has been impressive since becoming a Baby Bomber, earning a 3-1 record and a 1.73 ERA in five starts for the Tampa Yankees during the regular season. He followed that up with two games in Double-A with the Trenton Thunder during the Eastern League Playoffs.
He made two spring training appearances with the Yankees before being reassigned to minor league camp. In 3 2/3 innings, he struck out four batters and allowed one run. This season Sheffield is a lock for the Trenton Thunder starting rotation, which means fans will have to take a quick drive to Arm & Hammer Stadium to see his 93 miles per hour fastball and solid curveball and changeup in action.
Montgomery, 24, has pitched his way into consideration for one of the last two spots in the New York Yankees starting rotation. The 2014 fourth round draft pick has put up impressive numbers in the minors with a 25-14 record and a 2.61 ERA over 60 career games, striking out 286 in 292 2/3 innings.
Late in 2015 Montgomery saw a velocity bump in his fastball, going from 88-92 miles per hour to 91-94 mph. Last season in Trenton he hit 96 MPH occasionally with his fastball earlier in the season but saw a velocity dip later when he was promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He backs up his fastball with a curveball, cutter, and changeup. All of his pitches have good movement, keeping hitters off balance and causing strikeouts and ground balls. Throughout his career opposing batters have only been able to hit .233 against him.
This spring training Montgomery as struck out 13 batters in 14 2/3 innings over five games, including 4 1/3 innings in his first spring training start on March 23 against Tampa Bay.
The former first-round draft pick in 2013, Ian Clarkin, has battled some injuries in his short minor league career. But last season he came back and was healthy to earn a 6-9 record with a 3.31 ERA and 72 strikeouts over 98 innings for the Tampa Yankees.
This spring Clarkin is listed on the roster for the Tampa Yankees work group but has been pitching for the Trenton Thunder in games. He will likely head north come opening day and make his Double-A debut with the Thunder this season. Clarkin possesses a low-90s fastball with a curveball, slider, and changeup.
Enns, 25, is the oldest player on this list but the former 19th round draft pick out of Central Michigan has put together some outstanding numbers in the minors. He owns a 25-13 career record with a 1.86 ERA and 350 strikeouts in 344 1/3 innings of work. Last season he made split the season between Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Trenton where he had a combined 14-4 record and a 1.73 ERA in 26 games, 22 starts.
Enns is slated to return to the RailRiders to open the 2017 season and with a plus changeup that is set up by a high-80s to low-90s fastball, a slider and curveball he will be a force to reckon with in the Scranton rotation.
Rogers, 22, was drafted by the Yankees in the 11th round of the 2015 draft out of Louisville and in two professional seasons he has opened up some eyes with his excellent control of a high-80s-to-low-90s fastball, and two average secondary pitches (a slider and changeup.)
Last season he split his time between the Charleston RiverDogs and the Tampa Yankees. With Charleston, he was 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in four games before being promoted to Tampa. In 20 games in the Florida State League, he went 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 113 2/3 innings. This season we expect him to hang back in Tampa to start the season but will find his way to Trenton at some point during the season.
The Yankees have a few other left-handed pitchers that are deserving of recognition. Lefty Dan Camarena and Nestor Cortes are soft-throwing starters that have proven to be solid pitchers in the upper levels of the minors. While recently acquired Stephen Tarpley could one day be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter in the majors but is currently on the rehab roster in spring training.