New York Yankees: Four sleeper candidates to make the Opening Day roster

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RHP Clarke Schmidt

If there is one pitcher that’s not currently on the Yankees 40-man roster who could end up making the starting rotation straight out of camp it’s Clarke Schmidt. The former 1st rd pick by New York back in 2017 has really made a strong impression in his first three appearances of the spring and has shown why the Yankees believe he’ll be a big part of their starting staff for years to come.

Schmidt has a 1.80 ERA in five innings pitched this spring with six strikeouts and two walks. He’s featured a nasty curveball in every outing along with a mid 90s fastball and a solid changeup. There’s no doubt Schmidt has the repertoire to be a successful big league starter but there are concerns about his usage after only pitching 90.2 innings in 2019.

When Schmidt was drafted by the Yanks he was in the process of recovering from TJ surgery so in 2018 he only pitched in 23.1 innings. After starting his pro career in rookie ball he made it all the way up to Double-A Trenton last August and had a 2.37 ERA with 19 K’s in just 19 innings. At 24-years-old he’s risen quickly up through the system and the expectation is he’ll continue to do so.

Now the question is whether or not the Yankees think he’s ready to pitch in the big leagues this soon and take on a starter’s workload for a full season. The odds are they aren’t going to rush him, just like they aren’t going to rush their second-best pitching prospect Deivi Garcia who’s only 20 years old.

They have other quality options like King and Loaisiga to turn to but if Schmidt continues to perform at this level for the remainder of camp he could force his way into the rotation much faster than expected.