Under the Radar Yankees Prospects: Reliever Brody Koerner
Yanks Go Yard is combing through the New York Yankees minor league system in search of hidden gems in this ongoing series. Today, reliever Brody Koerner.
The New York Yankees strategy of turning dominant college relievers into starting pitchers paid off in a big way this season with 2015 fifth rounder Chance Adams becoming one of the most successful starters in the upper minors this year and vaulting all the way up to number 13 on MLB Pipeline’s list of top 30 prospects.
23-year-old righty Brody Koerner was in the midst of a similar transition this year, before an elbow injury in May ended his season. The experiment was going very well before Koerner was shut down. He allowed just seven earned runs in 34 IP while striking out 29 and walking five during his first five professional starts split between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa.
Like Adams, Koerner is a member of the 2015 draft class, although he wasn’t selected until 17th overall because of a rough NCAA career where he compiled a 6.98 ERA in 98 IP over three seasons with Clemson, but the Yankees liked his arsenal enough to take a late-round flier on him.
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Koerner rewarded New York’s faith in him with an excellent 2015 showing, pitching to a 1.23 ERA in 29.1 IP between Pulaski and Charleston. His most notable skill is his ability to keep the ball on the ground and in the yard with a heavy low-90’s sinker that he pairs with a solid curveball.
New York’s decision makers like Koerner enough to give him one of their valuable spots on the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League to help replace some of the innings he missed out on this season. Presumably they still want him to work as a starter going forward, so the most important thing for him this month is to get in as much work as possible to keep his innings limit progressing in the right direction.
Things have been pretty ugly for Koerner in the early days of the AFL. Over his first two outings, he allowed nine earned runs and four walks in 3.1 innings of work. The advanced competition was already going to be a challenge since Koerner has never pitched above A-Ball, but there is likely some rust and lingering effects of the injury affecting his performance as well.
Next: Previewing the Yankees 2017 Right Field Competition
Not every pitcher is going to be James Kaprielian, who can miss the entire regular season and return without missing a step. While you’d like to see Koerner turn it around over the next month, the most important thing is that he stays healthy and is ready to try starting full time again in 2017. He may not have Adams’s stuff, but he could emerge as a legitimate starting pitcher prospect next year.