While Clayton Beeter has had a remarkably amount of success since joining the Double-A Somerset Patriots last year following the Joey Gallo trade, the New York Yankees might be feeling equally enthusiastic about another Texas Tech Red Raider product elsewhere in their system: 2022 sixth-round right-hander Chase Hampton.
Considering how dire it seemed when New York thinned out the upper levels of their pitching farm last summer, dealing Hayden Wesneski, Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears and Luis Medina, the amount of swing-and-miss they've been able to produce up and down the pipeline has been remarkable.
Entering the year, right-handers Will Warren, Richard Fitts and Drew Thorpe had emerged as the next line of defense. All of them have performed admirably, and Warren's Double-A season has gotten off to a tremendous start, with the sweeper leading the way.
A few hurlers deeper into the system have begun to make the charge to the top, though, with Justin Lange (from last winter's Luke Voit trade with the Padres) and Hampton standing out most prominently.
Hampton's last four starts have featured 35 Ks in 20 innings pitched, and both he and Lange are in the top five in strikeouts per nine innings; Lange leads all of minor-league ball, in fact.
Yankees minor-league pitcher Chase Hampton could become a top-10 prospect by end of 2023
Hampton may have been somewhat hidden last summer, lost in the Spencer Jones buzz and clocking in as the fourth pitcher selected by the Yankees in the draft's first six rounds.
While second-rounder Thorpe has the polish and the changeup, Hampton might have the best hammer and has excelled at inducing swings-and-misses at High-A thus far.
Hampton's profile includes one of the best CSW (called strikes + whiffs/total pitches) in the entire minors.
Hampton featured a four-pitch mix in college, and while Chris Clegg's report features his fastball at 94-95, MLB.com's draft profile from last summer claims he was able to dial it up to 99 at key moments with the Red Raiders.
There's no need for Hampton to sit at that maxed-out velocity if he can still induce silly swings from the mid-90s, but ... there's something about knowing he's got that next level in his arsenal that's oddly comforting.
Hopefully, Hampton's well-shaped curveball continues to befuddle hitters and he gets the eventual bump up to Double-A, with Lange taking his place in Hudson Valley. Now, perhaps it's a little clearer why the Yankees were so willing to thin out the upper minors and take a few extra chances last summer.