Charleston RiverDogs pitcher Caleb Smith. Mandatory Credit: bronxbaseballdaily.com.

The RiverDogs Are Giving Yankees Pitching a Bright Future


The New York Yankees’ minor league system continues it’s growth this season. What was deemed a rebuilding process is moving along quicker than many expected. The brilliant picks of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft are certainly helping.

The biggest knock on the Yankees depleted farm system was their pitching. Everyone knows about the Yanks’ catching prospects as well as big bats like Zolio Almonte and Zealous Wheeler, but pitching was thought to be the greatest weakness throughout the system. Way down on the farm, however, in Low-A Charleston, five youngsters may be developing into the finest rotation the Baby Bombers have seen in some time.

They aren’t household names, but they very well may be quite soon. Three righties and two lefties have joined to form one of the more formidable rotations in the South Atlantic League. The RiverDogs pitching staff has combined for a 20-17 record, with a 2.91 ERA (good for third overall in the S.A.L), four shutouts (second in the S.A.L.), and 317 strikeouts (third overall). It is time to know who these guys are.

Ian Clarkin is the biggest name on the staff. As the 33rd overall pick in the first round of the 2013 draft, he is the Yankees’ top pitching prospect according to Baseball America. He began the season in extended spring training, but the lefty has made quite the 2014 debut. His first appearance was five shutout innings against the Delmarva ShoreBirds to snag his first win of the season. He has allowed just one run over two starts.

Luis Severino is the second rated pitching prospect in the Yankees’ minor league system. The 20-year-old righty may not have the record to show it, but he has been lights out on the young season. He sits at 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 37 innings. Fellow starter Rookie Davis told the RiverDogs official site, “I don’t really think I need to say much about him. He’s got one of the best arms I’ve ever seen.”

Davis, a 21-year-old righty taken in the 14th round two years ago, is pretty stingy when it comes to allowing runs. He made his Charleston debut late last season after a promotion from Staten Island and over his first two starts of his Single-A ball career he allowed zero runs. In fact, that streak continued through his Opening Day start of this season, shutting out the Augusta GreenJackets.

Brady Lail, a 20-year-old righty taken in the 18th round of the 2012 Draft, is currently leading the South Atlantic League in wins. He currently sits at 5-1 with a 3.35 ERA. Lail has strung together four consecutive wins allowing just 4 earned runs over those 23 innings pitched.

Lastly, is 22-year-old lefty Caleb Smith. Smith currently is second in the South Atlantic League with a microscopic 0.84 ERA. He already has a South Atlantic Pitcher of the Week award under his belt highlighted by six shutout innings in a victory in which he struck out 13 Delmarva ShoreBirds. RiverDogs manager, Luis Dorante, recently gushed about Smith’s ability.”He can do the job in Tampa. We would like to keep him here so we can win more games, but that’s part of the game.”

The Yankees have a long way to go before they can feel comfortable that the future is here. The Charleston RiverDogs are certainly providing some light at the end of this long tunnel. It sure is going to make for an exciting season.

Tags: Caleb Smith Charleston RiverDogs Featured Ian Clarkin Luis Severino New York Yankees News Popular South Atlantic League

  • Michael Lynch

    Nobody regards Zealous Wheeler as a bright prospect, he’s 27 years old.