Yankees pitching development looks good this spring

It’s that time of year when we oooh and ahhh about the adjustments players are making or have made while working on creases during spring training. To be precise, this includes changes in the mechanics or characteristics of the launcher. Until we have access to the consistent, high-quality footage that arrives during the regular season, it’s hard to see the finer details regarding player mechanics. Luckily, we have access to some pitch data from Baseball Savant’s game streams.

We’re limited to speed and movement looking at the Spring Statcast data, but changes in either are something to watch out for, depending on the magnitude. A change in velocity probably means a change in mechanics, while changes in motion can be due to mechanics, pitch grip, or hand position at release. There are two launchers that have had remarkable leaps in speed so far that are entering the most crucial stage of their respective developments.

After an injury, Clarke Schmidt had really just got back on her feet in 2021, which makes it hard to judge her true talent. If his debut against the Tigers is any indication, then the Yankees should start getting excited. His speed jumped, with Schmidt averaging just under 96 mph against Detroit. In 2020 it averaged 95, but in 2021 it was two ticks lower at 93. That also includes the curveball, which jumped two ticks at 84 mph. For Schmidt, I guess he improved the quality of movements. In the past, he has trained with Yankees director of player health and performance Eric Cressey. With years of elite training in the bank, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him maxing out his body’s capabilities.

Schmidt’s other post-hype prospect, Deivi García, also jumped on the bike. I’m actually extremely excited about this one. Garcia has unique characteristics. Its delivery is misleading. I wrote about it back in January, but García was best known for his extension and exit point. When he was throwing with more speed before 2021, he would dot fastballs low in the area and get called strikes with the best of them. If we see this order as he consistently throws 95-96 and breaks through 97, I would expect a rebound.

These two aren’t the only pitchers making speed jumps in the spring. Greg Weissert, who I flagged as a potential reliver in the Yankees system, had his own jump. Baseball America has ranked Weissert’s slider as the best in the system for three straight years, so a speed jumper would be a great addition to an already interesting arsenal. He mentioned in an interview that he made some adjustments and was mostly at 95-97 mph on the gun. He averaged 93.7 yesterday against the Phillies, but on Monday he threw an average of 95.3 mph and topped 98.3 in two scoreless innings. These numbers are a bit more eye-catching. A 97 mph sinker and an absurd sweeping slider would go very well together.

Finally, we have Lucas Luetge. This time we focus on the horizontal movement of its cursor.

The more sweeps, the better. It’s bad ground if Luetge continues with this change. We saw how productive it was with just eight inches of horizontal movement; now imagine 16.

I’m sure more improvements will emerge as spring training progresses, but these four changes all hold promise for those players looking to make an impact at the big league level this season. If those jumps persist, you should get used to seeing them on the mound for the Yankees sooner or later.