3 Yankees spring training mirages you should try to believe in
1. Clarke Schmidt’s Spin
You want to talk about passing the eye test and the lab results? Clarke Schmidt’s fastball/slider combo have been locking up hitters all spring long, and behind the curtain, his spin rate has been obscene.
That’s why you buy.
What? Were you going to eternally judge Schmidt off a weird 2020 debut where he was thrown into the late innings of an Orioles game in a high-leverage situation for no apparent reason? Or his 2021 spot start at Citi Field after missing several months following a too-hard ramp up?
Maybe it’s worth remembering that before the world shut down in 2020, Schmidt’s spring was the talk of the town. Some were shocked when he didn’t make the Yankees roster out of summer camp that season. All of a sudden he’s persona non grata because you didn’t like your first look at him under duress?
It’s easy to make these sorts of snap judgments, and if Schmidt had shown up to camp this season in what could be his final chance to prove himself still sporting the loopy curveball and 94 MPH cheddar, he might’ve lost the organization’s trust.
Instead, he’s spinning the ball at an absurd rate, earning red marks in Statcast’s book basically every time he tosses a pitch this spring. Like Garcia, he’s shown an obvious velocity (and pep) increase, which was evident when he shut down the heart of the Phillies order last week (including Kyle Schwarber looking at the fastball multiple times).
Ideally, Schmidt’s reminded many who wrote him off about why he ascended the Yankees’ prospect lists in the first place. It wasn’t by default. It was because he had untapped potential, and the revolutions he’s putting on the baseball right now prove he’s close to maxing out.