Yankees top pitching prospect surging up rankings

Mar 1, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees Glenn Otto (96) poses during media day at Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: MLB Photos via USA Today Sports
Mar 1, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees Glenn Otto (96) poses during media day at Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: MLB Photos via USA Today Sports /

The New York Yankees’ 2021 season has been a depressing collection of moments that make you nervously whisper, “This should end fine, unless a worst-case scenario happens,” followed by a clear and present worst-case scenario.

Below the frustration, though, there’s been renewed hope at every level of the minor leagues, where several overlooked talented players have risen over the first two months of the 2021 season.

In recent weeks, shortstop Anthony Volpe’s gotten a good deal of the spotlight, ending up in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects just a few months after being regarded as a “good field, alright bat” shortstop.

Surprisingly, he’s now thriving and displaying an escalated and impressive walk rate as one of the youngest players at his level.

At every level, though, it seems there are one or two (or three, or four…) mid-to-top tier Yankees top prospects rewriting their own projections and making new names for themselves.

There’s a reason, after all, that all four full-season minor-league teams in the system have over 35 wins. Consistent greatness on offense and a few sterling pitching breakouts have propelled the Bombers to success at every level.

We could wax rhapsodic about any number of Yankees prospects, but this week, the premier helium candidate is obvious: righty Glenn Otto, who breezed through Double-A again this week with another eye-popping, strikeout-filled start, earning the No. 3 spot (subscription required) on Baseball America’s Hot Sheet.

Let’s, uh … let’s enjoy the highlights, shall we?

Yankees top prospect Glenn Otto is spinning the ball.

This goes without saying, but … please pay attention to the chatter, Yankees. People are talking about Otto because Otto is dominating. Don’t start tricking yourself into pulling a Garrett Whitlock because you need to make space on the 40-man roster for another Quad-A relief option.

Otto’s getting mentioned. You won’t be able to sneak this one past the goalie.

Of course, that’s the aggravating flip side of this current scenario where a lot of Yankees prospects are performing surprisingly well. Year after year, the Yanks seem to keep their prospects in a holding pattern, letting them dominate in the minors while seemingly unwilling to leverage their success in trade or call them up for a taste of the MLB level. In turn, this leads to an overload of players who need 40-man protection, which gives you Red Sox bullpen ace Garrett Whitlock.

Hopefully, Otto (the team’s 28th-ranked prospect entering 2021) has turned enough heads that the team realizes something must be done about him.

After his most recent outing — a seven-inning, 12-strikeout, one-hit shutout — Otto’s now got two dominant starts that rival the greatest performances anyone’s given this year. We also really enjoyed his 5.1 inning start on May 20 featuring two hits and 14 strikeouts in an insanely short period of time.

On the year, the 2017 fifth-rounder has struck out 95 batters in 59.1 innings while keeping his WHIP somehow under 1.00 (0.94). We’ve noticed. The baseball world has noticed.

Will the Yankees do anything about it?