Heading into the 2020 season, the New York Yankees look to have a much improved starting rotation than in 2019. The signing of Gerrit Cole and return of Luis Severino certainly fuel that narrative although there is more depth in the farm system in Clarke Schmidt.
Schmidt, a right-handed pitcher, reached as high as Double-A Trenton in 2019, and his MLB eta is scheduled for 2020.
The Yankees drafted Clarke Schmidt 16th overall in the 2017 draft out of the University of South Carolina. The team was high enough on Schmidt to draft him even though he underwent Tommy John surgery a month prior. His six-feet-one-inch and 200 pound frame and not-so-smooth delivery has led to some concerns about his durability. He did miss month in 2019 due to injury, but still managed to start 18 games.
In the recent release of MLB Pipeline’s 2020 top prospects, he ranks 88th among the minor league players with the brightest futures. Schmidt was the Yankees fifth-best prospect at ther conclusion of the 2019 season, and he currently sits ahead of Deivy Garcia (92nd) and below Jasson Dominguez (54th) on the current top-100 list.
Schmidt appeared in 19 total games during the season, the bulk of which came in High-A Tampa. He struck out 69 batters in 63.1 innings with a 3.84 ERA in Tampa before getting promoted to Trenton. Once there, he continued to excel, allowing just 15 base runners in 19 innings pitched, and he had a 2.37 ERA and .200 opponent’s batting average.
His total numbers for the season include a 3.47 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 90.2 innings pitched. He held opponents to a .233 average and recorded a 1.18 WHIP.
Pitching Mix And Style
Schmidt’s arsenal features three plus-pitches when at their best. His fastball grades out at a 60/80 while his curveball and changeup are both 55/80. He also featured a slider that was considered a plus-pitch, but he stopped throwing it in order to focus moreso on his curveball.
Schmidt can throw two different fastballs with differing movements. His two-seam fastball features a heavy sinking movement while his four-seam fastball has more of a cutting action. The velocity on these pitches has topped out at 97 MPH, but it typically sits anywhere from 92-97 MPH.
His off-speed pitches complement his fastballs well with a changeup that catches batters off balance as it bottoms out at home plate. He shows good depth on his curveball, which sits in the low-80s MPH.
Although the pitch mix in Schmidt’s arsenal grades out exceptionally, he features better control than command. For control, he received a grade of 50/80, and it was on display all season long. His BB/9 sat at 2.78 and his K/BB ratio was 3.64, both illustrating his ability to put pitches where he wanted to.
Overall, scouts grade Schmidt at 55/80, showing that he has the ability to be an effective pitcher. The key for Schmidt is to keep his pitches down in the zone as he is susceptible to being hit around when he does not do that. Either way, he presents the best four pitch mix of any Yankee prospect. As a result, the team plans to continue developing him as a starter in the meantime.
With the likes of James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ following Cole and Severino, Clarke Schmidt may not see significant innings in the 2020 rotation, but he proves to be an intriguing depth piece for the Yankees, along with Jordan Montgomery, and should make an impact at some point.
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