Quick, name the last largely successful New York Yankees starter who came from the club’s minor league system. Did you answer Andy Pettitte? Yeah, it’s been that long since the Yankees had a top-flight starter who was drafted, developed, broke with the team, and remained successful throughout their career. To be fair, the Yankees, for the better part of two decades, haven’t really focused on developing young players, instead they’re dangled in front of other teams to entice them into trading their biggest stars away. However, that all could change with a certain Venezuelan in Jose Campos.
**In this series will be taking a look at the ten best Yankees prospects in our opinion. Check out our Prospects page containing other players in the series. We’ll be updating this throughout the year, so check back! Also, feel free to give us your opinions as well, we love a good discussion, especially when it comes to the Yankees future.**
Campos came over in the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade last January, a trade that many are cringing at now. While a part of the Mariners system, Campos was rated as the fifth-best prospect at the ripe ole’ age of 19. He’s a young pitcher with a ton of upside, which is exactly what the Yankees system needs after their former #1 pitching prospect, Manny Banuelos, is out for the entire 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Dellin Betances took a huge step back after being demoted to AA.
Perhaps the most amazing part of all of this is that Campos was a secondary piece to the big trade, but could eventually be the cornerstone of the deal when looking back in 3-4 years. That said, let’s jump right into what makes him special.
He has an electric fastball, one regularly working in the 94-95 mph range, but has topped out at 98 mph. Baseball America notes that for having that kind of velocity, he commands his fastball very well. He rounds out his repertoire with a power curveball, which clocks in the upper 70’s, and an above-average changeup. The fastball-changeup combination is what going to make or break him as a viable option for the Yankees in the future. More specifically, the changeup will help keep lefties from squaring up fastballs and depositing them in the right field seats.
There isn’t much of way of statistics go from with him because after five starts he was shelved by the team after he experienced some elbow inflammation. What’s more worrisome is that team officials “hope” he’ll be ready for Spring Training. However, he allowed only one hit in his first 11 innings at Charleston, which is a promotion from playing A- ball with the M’s. He would go on to make five starts with the team, going 3-0 with a 4.01 ERA (3.24 FIP). His peripherals sparkled, namely his K/9 (9.49) and his BB/9 (2.92). He held opponents to a .211 batting average with a BABIP of .269.
It’s difficult to project where a player with only 32 starts across three different levels will end up, but for right now it’s save to say he’ll get his strikeouts and he’ll limit walks. That’s exactly what you want out of a pitcher. He’ll likely pitch in extended spring training before heading back to the Charleston Riverdogs to resume where he left off last year. The Yankees won’t likely see Campos in the Bronx until 2015-2016, and even 2015 is pretty aggressive. The elbow issue at an early age is definitely troubling, but if he can overcome that and keep pitching like he has, his potential is of a frontline starter, which the Yankees desperately need.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs