Yankees top pitching prospect's new nickname will get fans excited

Milwaukee Brewers v New York Yankees
Milwaukee Brewers v New York Yankees / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages

Though the Yankees have done an admirable job piecing together a high-ceiling rotation, they need to eventually bridge the gap to a new generation of elite talent. Ideally, some of that talent is homegrown; producing a boatload of impressive pitchers, then trading them all away is no way to go through life (unless you happen to stumble into a "Juan Soto type," such as Juan Soto).

New York has felt comfortable making a wide array of moves the past few years because they both believe in the depth of their system and believe in their ability to continue uncovering top pitchers at middling draft slots. Jhony Brito and Randy Vásquez were unheralded international signings. Ken Waldichuk was a fifth-rounder; Hayden Wesneski was taken in the sixth. Some of the moves these pitchers were deployed in bombed significantly (Frankie Montas is now making $16 million in Cincinnati after pitching one inning in 2023). Some, the jury's out (Scott Effross, technically Soto). Regardless, the Yankees dangled these pitchers because they felt confident in replacing them.

Now, it's time to see the fruits of that replacement labor, and fellow sixth-rounder Chase Hampton (2022) could very well be the first one of the next generation to make a sustained impact.

The ex-Texas Tech righty has risen up the prospect ranks and received significant praise from Baseball America this offseason; the outlet placed Hampton 72nd in their top 100, the lowest-ranked of six Yankees included ahead of what might be a breakout season. The righty's demeanor and power arsenal even, reportedly, have some in the organization calling him "Mini Cole," according to Brendan Kuty.

Yankees banking on Chase Hampton, aka "Mini [Gerrit] Cole"

What's the term for when you say something sarcastically so often that you kind of, sort of start to mean it? Luckily, Hampton doesn't need to be Cole to qualify as a success story. He just has to join forces with Will Warren and Clayton Beeter to provide meaningful innings from within the system, covering for the losses of Brito, Vásquez and Drew Thorpe. Clearly, the Yankees believe the trio can do just that (and also believe that, even if they can't, trading for Soto was still worth absorbing a reduction in internal pitching depth).

Hampton, a 6'2", 220-pound righty in the classic pitcher's mold, is coming off a season in which he reached Double-A and struck out 145 batters in 106 2/3 innings at the age of 21. The Yankees are likely expecting a significant step forward at the Double-A level keyed by a reduction in walks; he surrendered 21 free passes in 59+ innings at the level.

If the arsenal continues to play and Hampton keeps a Cole-like edge, then he could be the one to break the Yankees' recent mold and debut/stay a while with his current team.