Prospects

Yankees: Justus Sheffield Prospect Profile

New York Yankees prospect Justus Sheffield is taking the minor leagues by storm and could be making an impact in the Bronx soon. 

The Yankees top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield was promoted to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barres on May 4. Through five games this season at Double-A Trenton, Sheffield had a 2.25 ERA while averaging 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings.

The left-handed starting pitcher, who turns 22 on May 13, is currently rated as the third best overall prospect in the Yankees farm system, according to MLB.com. Sheffield was acquired in the 2016 trade that sent reliever Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians (Clint Frazier was sent to New York in the trade).

Sheffield stands at only 5-foot-11, but still throws his fastball consistently around 95 MPH with the ability to reach 98. He also features a slider and change-up which both can be plus pitches when his command is on.

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Throughout the off-season Brian Cashman continually stated that he was still looking at starting rotation depth. Part of the reason he wasn’t so keen on overpaying like some other team have can in part be attributed to the belief in Sheffield.

If Sheffield is to excel early on in Scranton, then he could possibly come in for either spot starts or to replace an injured starter as soon as July. Domingo German however, may be a possible roadblock. German got the first chance to replace an injured Jordan Montgomery and has thrown 10 scoreless innings, on Sunday German threw six no-hit innings before being replaced because of a pitch count.

If his promotion to the Majors doesn’t happen this season it’s almost a certainty that it will happen in 2019. As CC Sabathia is on the last year of his contract its unlikely that the 37-year old will be back in pinstripes next season. With that opening in the rotation Sheffield should have a strong likelihood of securing it out of Tampa next spring.

The Yankees could be looking at their future number two starter alongside Luis Severino with Sheffield. A young and dominate right-handed and left-handed could help the Yanks stay at the top of baseball for the next 10-plus years.

As the Astros rotation continues to look extremely dominate it may influence the Yankees off-season decisions. While many experts suspect them to go after Manny Machado or Bryce Harper they may decide to go get another ace to match Houston.  Masahiro Tanaka opted into the final three years of his contract which runs until 2020, Sonny Gray will be in his final season of arbitration next year.

With Montgomery and Severino both still on rookie deals four out of the five starting pitchers are decided for at least until 2019. If the Yankees decide to invest in another ace, then Sheffield’s spot in the rotation doesn’t appear so certain.

Since Sheffield is such a valued prospect it’s expected that Cashman handles his promotion to the majors carefully. He won’t want to rush his promotion just to fill a spot start since his ceiling is considered to be the highest amongst possible starting pitchers in their farm system.

A call-up to the big leagues was stated as his goal for the 2018 season, if he does get the call then he could make a big impact on the Yankees starting rotation.

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