Yankees' Will Warren proves he should be 2024 Jhony Brito with season-closing start

The forgotten Yankees pitching prospect has stepped up.

New York Yankees v Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Yankees v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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Getting surpassed by Drew Thorpe and Chase Hampton in the eyes of evaluators does not appear to have sapped any of Yankees pitching prospect Will Warren's strength.

Entering 2023, Warren was viewed as the foremost candidate to leap to Triple-A and the bigs by end of season ... which wasn't exactly encouraging, considering he seemed to be less polished than JP Sears and less electric than Ken Waldichuk/Hayden Wesneski the year prior. Warren would need to speed through the high minors to replicate those pitchers' impact, lest Brian Cashman take another hit for gutting his upper-level prospect depth.

Luckily for the Yankees, they somehow managed to receive solid cameos from a few completely unexpected faces, with changeup artist Jhony Brito and the electric Randy Vásquez emerging from prospect purgatory to make a few effective starts (and, ultimately, some nasty relief appearances). Advanced metrics be damned; those guys gave it their all.

Especially Brito, who seems recently reborn as a middle reliever who can erase multiple innings at a time. The 25-year-old will still play a key role next season after lowering his ERA from 5.43 to 4.52 in a month's time with 17 innings, 11 hits, two earned runs, and 14 Ks.

Luckily, there will be room for contributions from everyone who's earned it. You can never have too much pitching depth, especially with Michael King suddenly threatening for a rotation spot. You can never have too many rubber arms who can appear in short relief or fireman spots. Warren, whose Scranton tenure started with a 5.17 ERA in June and 6.14 mark in July, walked 10 across 27 innings in five starts (3.67 ERA) in August before reaching another gear in September. He allowed just a single earned run in 23.2 innings, continuing to emphasize his world-class sweeper and perhaps peaking in his final start of the season.

Yankees pitching prospect Will Warren ready for 2024 role

Per Chris Clegg, Warren wrapped his weekend start (which Clegg called his "best of the year") with a 44% whiff/46% CSW/71% strikes. Evaluators across the game are beginning to notice the man who opened 2023 as the Yankees' primary pitching hope is hitting his stride one step away from MLB action.

That outing left Warren with 124 innings pitched on the season, suggesting that no meaningful innings jump beyond ~160 next year should trigger any sort of shutdown. His right arm should theoretically be primed to help the Yankees in whichever role is needed.

Hampton still has the higher ceiling and Thorpe (cross all your fingers that he's healthy) has the best pitch, but there's enough in Warren's profile to make this a trio. Expect Warren and Thorpe to be under consideration for emergency big-league reps to start the season, with Hampton ready by end-of-year, too.

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