Did Yankees just find next bullpen gem with quiet minor-league signing?

Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins
Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

On Friday, the New York Yankees quietly made a minor-league addition, but it could have a positive effect on the 2023 roster. You just never know what can happen when a pitcher is added and Matt Blake gets the chance to make his patented tweaks.

Right-handed pitcher Ian Hamilton joined the Yankees on a minor-league deal, coming over from the Cleveland Guardians (he spent 2022 with the Guards and the Twins). He was drafted back in 2016 by the Chicago White Sox, but never managed to latch on, whether he battled inconsistency or injuries.

Across his six-year minor-league career, the 27-year-old owns a 3.49 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 331 strikeouts across 201 games (278.2 innings). Here's a little assessment of his arsenal from 2019 provided by SouthSideSox.com:

"Hamilton features a 70-grade, mid-90s fastball that touches 99 mph and features hard sink. His hard slider can reach 90 mph and is considered a plus pitch. He also offers a legit changeup, as he held Triple-A lefties to a mere .167 average."

Per his Baseball Savant page, Hamilton has swapped out the changeup for a sinker, but that's only based on one appearance in the bigs. He has just 14.2 MLB innings under his belt since debuting in 2018, so the intel on the right-hander is scarce.

Yankees sign pitcher Ian Hamilton to minor-league contract

Blake's had great success working with fastball-slider guys, namely Clay Holmes, Michael King and Lou Trivino over the last couple of years. With Hamilton's fastball touching the upper 90s in the past, there's potential for him to be a lite version of those three, since his velocity has diminished following a shoulder injury suffered in a car accident during spring training in 2019.

At the very least, it's wildly encouraging that before Minnesota traded him to Cleveland, he owned a 1.88 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with 36 strikeouts in 28.2 innings with Triple-A St. Paul. His 15-game showing with Triple-A Columbus was really what brought his campaign down (6.27 ERA and 1.50 WHIP).

You never know who will emerge in spring training, though, and with the Yankees in need of bullpen help there could very well be unexpected roster changes over the next couple of months.

We'll circle back here when Hamilton reports with pitchers and catchers and the videos start rolling in.