The 2022 New York Yankees thinned out their upper-level minor-league depth significantly during the second half — not in the super fun way everyone loves (promotions), but in the semi-bummer way everyone has mixed feelings about (overloaded trade deadline packages).
When the dust settled on Aug. 2, the Yankees had traded away Hayden Wesneski to the Chicago Cubs (for Scott Effross), Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, and Luis Medina to the A’s (Frankie Montas/Lou Trivino) and even TJ Sikkema to the Royals (Andrew Benintendi). After injuries to Nestor Cortes and potentially Jameson Taillon, as well Luis Severino’s potentially-unnecessary stay on the 60-Day IL, some of those names might’ve been nice to pencil into a rotation spot. You know, as opposed to Chi Chi Gonzalez.
At least … longtime 40-man name Yoendrys Gomez is finally licking Double-A? That … that could be good?
But don’t put the cart before the horse here, either. As much as fans loved some of the intriguing arms the Bombers dealt away, it looks like many of them are not ready for primetime … though two of them have already gotten legit big-league shots.
All in all, the Yankees’ traded-away prospect pitchers have been an extreme mixed bag, with two names rising above the rest of the crop/leaving them down deep in the hole.
Hot Yankees 2022 trade deadline pitching prospects: Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears
Ken Waldichuk is the wild card. JP Sears is the known quantity.
While it’s unlikely Waldichuk would be getting the same look in the Bronx that he’s getting in Oakland, we already know Sears was the first-half go-to guy, and his absence has been felt in a major way these past few weeks. The Yankees even faced him this past weekend in Oakland, and while they were bailed out by an Aaron Judge three-run shot (familiar), that was the only damage he allowed.
In four starts with Oakland, Sears has allowed six earned runs in 21.1 innings pitched. Remove the Yankees start, and it’s three earned in 15.1. WOOF. He’s just … good.
Waldichuk earned a nod for September, too, after four solid starts in the impossible-to-handle hitters’ paradise of the Pacific Coast League. He allowed 20 hits in 18.2 innings, but struck out 21 with a 3.38 ERA to boot. He’s been fairly consistent all year long, and has earned four or five year-end starts before an autumn shutdown. His MLB debut ended up being prototypical Waldichuk. He whiffed guys (6 in 4.2 innings). He clogged the bases (1.93 WHIP). He limited runs scored (just one earned). He was fresh and pretty electric.
As for the rest of the names…
Cold Yankees 2022 trade deadline pitching prospects: Everyone Else
The A’s swiped two top performers from the Yankees in exchange for an historically bad Frankie Montas, so they have no reason to complain … butttttttt Luis Medina, the third pitcher in the deal, has started slower than slow. Pitching for Double-A Midland, Medina sports an unsightly Deivi Garcia-esque 12.00 ERA, with 24 hits and 18 walks allowed in 15 innings.
Yup. A 2.80 WHIP. Read it three times to confirm that was accurate. It is … not what you want.
Also scuffling? Sikkema and Wesneski. In his first taste of Double-A (which might’ve been an aggressive promotion), the left-handed Sikkema has posted a 6.41 ERA in five starts, also losing his control in the process (11 walks in 19.2 innings). The Yankees were hyper careful with Sikkema after he missed so much time with various shoulder ailments, and so far, he doesn’t appear ready for the next level.
Wesneski might be the most disappointing. Sikkema was a fast-rising potential lefty specialist. Medina was a fireballing question mark. Wesneski and his slider were supposed to be big-league ready, but he’s stalled out in the Cubs system, posting a 7.47 ERA in 15.2 innings (though he’s struck out 20).
We’re rooting for all of these guys to grab hold of their opportunities and run with them. The Yankees? They look bad no matter what, considering they cleaned out their own cupboard just before the inevitable pitching injuries began in their own backyard.
So far, though, these small sample sizes show just how high the variance can be among developing pitchers. By and large, these new guys aren’t acclimated to their new systems yet.