Yankees Sleeper Starting Pitcher: Meet Nestor Cortes


The Yankees must know that it’s a rare thing nowadays to have a guy who knows a lot about the art of pitching (not throwing) and wants to learn more. They have a player like that in their high-level minor league system. Meet Nestor Cortes.

Nestor Cortes is not a name we usually hear when the conversation turns to the Yankees teams of the future. And that could be because at 5’11” he doesn’t impress with 95mph stuff and the hype that goes along with it. In fact, about the only thing he does is get batters out.

At the age of 21, Nestor Cortes went through four levels of the Yankees minor league system in 2016, beginning at level A Charleston before finishing the season with his Triple-A debut, pitching 5 2/3 no-hit innings to pace the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders to a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons. 66 of his 99 pitches were strikes, which is just where you want to be to compete at the major league level. Of note also in that game, he struck out only four batters.

Opposing manager Gary Allenson of the Bisons described his performance that night telling the Buffalo News:

"“A finesse guy. Threw three of his pitches for strikes and he didn’t barrel too many of them up. Once you see him the first time up, you kind of has an idea of the timing part of it. He pitched good. Tip our hats to him, but I’ve said that to you enough times this year.”"

In total, he went 11-4 with a 1.53 ERA, while striking out 115 batters in 106 innings pitched, proving once again that a pitcher can be very effective with a fastball that averages between 89-92 on the gun if he knows how to locate his pitches.

More from Yankees Minor Leagues

Cortes was selected by the Yankees in the 36th round of the 2013 amateur draft when it is likely most teams were already heading back to their hotel rooms. A sleeper then, and a sleeper now.

There’s a video on the Yankees Facebook page that you can take a look at. But the most revealing thing about his style of pitching is the consistency of his delivery to the plate, coupled with how well he “hides” the ball from the hitters. It almost appears as though he’s “cuffing” the ball behind his back before his left arm comes forward and the ball seemingly appears at the last moment. It’s illusionary but very useful.

Yankees Moving Forward With Nestor Cortes

Mandatory Credit- MILB.com
Mandatory Credit- MILB.com /

Cortes is a southpaw, and that will benefit him as his career moves forward. In all likelihood, he is ticketed to begin the season at AAA Scranton for what they call more “seasoning.” In his case, refinement is probably a better word choice.

Softly and quietly, Cortes will continue not to impress, but he will strive to continue to improve to the point where the Yankees have no choice but to bring him up to the Stadium for a look see towards the end of the season. A strike thrower. What an odd thing to be, huh?

Next: Is Girardi The Right Man For The Job

We’ll follow his development for you here at Yanks Go Yard and keep you posted along the way.