Stephen Tarpley joined the Yankees organization in 2016 with Tito Polo; the two were the Pirates’ part of the Ivan Nova trade on August 30. Tarpley is a left-handed pitcher out of Scottsdale CC where he transferred from USC. He was drafted by the Orioles but only stayed with the organization for two seasons.
His rookie season was spent in the Orioles’ GCL team as a starter. He finished his rookie debut with a 2.14 ERA after seven starts. Through those appearances he threw 21 innings, giving up just five earned runs, three walks, and striking out 25. His WHIP was 1.10, and he carried a SO?9 rate of 10.71.
His 2914 campaign was with the Aberdeen IronBirds in the New York-Penn League. Tarpley started 12 of this 13 games and finished with a 3.66 ERA overall. Through 66 1/3 innings, he struck out 60 but walked 24
Come January 27; he was included in a package to the Pirates after the Orioles acquired Travis Snider in return. His 2015 season would then start in the SAL league on the Pirates’ Low-A team, West Virginia Power. He would have his best season to that point, starting 20 games and posting a 2.48 ERA through 116 innings. He gave up 48 earned runs, 37 walks, and totaled 90 strikeouts.
Tarpley moved up to High-A Bradenton in the FSL where he’d start 20 games. After finishing with a 4.32 ERA through 100 innings for Bradenton, the Ivan Nova trade then sent him to the Tampa Yankees before his season-ending injury. Tarpley started one game for Tampa where he went five innings, giving up five earned runs.
The Yankees gave Tarpley time to recover having him out until June 10. In his return he would completely dominate, tossing 30 2/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen, striking out 36, and walking 16. Along with a 0.78 WHIP, Tarpley would earn a promotion to Double-A Trenton to finish the season. He went on to throw 10 1/3 for the Thunder, giving up four runs and striking out six.
Tarpley has four pitches that have all come together to help him reach the level he did in 2017. His two-seam fastball will sit in the upper 80s to lower 90s but has topped out at 96 mph. He has solid sinking action and can even be used as a strikeout pitch at times. He has the control of fluctuating the speed on his fastball depending on count as well. His off=speed pitches include a changeup, slider, and curveball, which have all significantly improved. His slider needs more work, but he used it more this past season and was another asset in his dominance pairing it with his already-proven curveball.
It’s hard to judge Tarpley in full coming off of another short season, but should everything go as planned, leading up to 2018, he can very well end up close to the majors. The Yankees will most likely start him in Trenton in the bullpen, but don’t expect him to be there for long. Tarpley can take the spot of a bullpen/starter hybrid, much like the spot Nestor Cortes was in. Once his slider is enhanced a bit more, he should be ready for Triple-A and possibly even more if there is room.