Major league spring training is going strong, and Yankees minor league players have reported to the Player Development and Scouting Complex in Tampa to begin working towards their 2019 season.
With that in mind, we are taking a look at five sleeper pitching prospects throughout the organization that fans should keep an eye on.
Anderson Munoz is a right-handed pitcher that was initially signed by the Yankees as a minor league free agent on April 12, 2018, and spent the season with the GCL Yankees.
Though he only appeared in 11 professional games, nine starts, he got a chance to showcase his stuff in the Venezuelan Winter League where he went 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 15 games (19 innings pitched) with 17 strikeouts against competition much stronger than the rookie-level batters he faced in the GCL.
Much like Jonathan Loaisiga, Anderson Munoz is an undersized pitcher listed only as being 5-foot 8-inches tall while weighing in at 158. He packs a lot of velocity in his arm despite being shorter than many other pitchers. His fastball sat 93-95 miles per hour, topping out at 96 at times.
He produced good spin rates on his curveball, which he throws in the 78-78-81 miles per hour range. His third pitch is a changeup that is usually thrown in the high-80s. Control has been a big issue for him in his short professional career; he walked 26 batters with the GCL Yankees. He is still very law and needs to find consistency but could be another diamond in the rough find for the Yankees’ pro scouting department.
Severino, 24, has been on the radar of many in the organization since he signed with the team in 2013. But in 2018 he finally broke out of rookie ball. In 71 career minor league games, 19 starts, he has a career 3.93 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings of work.
Armed with two plus pitches, Severino is could become a force out of the bullpen for the Yankees in the future. The lefty’s primary pitch is his big-time fastball that sits in the 95-96 MPH range and has topped out at 99 miles per hour at times. His curveball sits in the high-70s-to-low-80s and features hard spin. His downfall is his control, which improved over 2018.
Harold Cortijo was drafted by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2017 draft out of Riverdale Baptist High School in Maryland.
Cortijo is the very definition of a sleeper prospect, his stellar 2018 season was overshadowed by the likes of Clarke Schmidt, Matt Sauer, and Roansy Contreras being a part of the same rotation. That allowed him to develop with little fanfare and a lot less pressure. The right-hander can be compared to Adonis Rosa who like Cortijo does not throw in the high 90s but has an excellent command of his pitches.
Cortijo possesses a fastball that is usually in the low-90s, around 90-93 miles per hour and hitting 95 at times. He backs it up with a curveball that he throws in the mid-to-high 70s and a changeup that is in the high 70s. His go-to secondary pitch is his changeup that he puts good sink on, making it tough to hit. All three pitches are average; the key to his success right now is his command.
Yankees signed Yoendrys Gomez as an international free agent on July 2, 2016. He has spent his first two seasons in the organization in Rookie ball with both the DSL Yankees and the Gulf Coast League Yankees.
Between the two teams, he has a 4-4 record with a 3.48 ERA in 23 games, 20 starts, with 83 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings of work.
Gomez is an underrated starting pitching prospect that is just primed for a breakout in 2019. His fastball has grown into a great pitch that gets up to 97 miles per hour and sitting now in the low-to-mid-90s. He puts good spin on the ball and is known to be a hard worker in the organization. He backs up his fastball with a curveball with a good spin rate and a changeup that is in the high-80s.
Denny Larrondo is the only pitcher on this list that has not made his professional debut yet. The 16-year-old from Villa Clara, Cuba was signed by the Yankees as part of the 2018 international free agent class and is a converted infielder.
Larrondo is a tremendous athlete that is already in the low-90s with his fastball and a curveball with a high spin rate. He needs to work on a third pitch and build strength. But this is a kid that if he puts in the work can have a big debut season in 2019.