Yankees’ pitching depth shines with a ‘Mini Cole’ among prospects

Yankees pitching prospect Chase Hampton at their training ground in Tampa in 2023.
John Allen
Wednesday November 1, 2023

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The 2023 season is one of the worst for the Yankees rotation as a whole. Except for Gerrit Cole’s Cy Young show, the rotation fell flat riddled with injuries, inconsistencies, and abject failures. However, there is a bright line for the Yankees as their farm system is ready to back up with outstanding pitching depth. One of them, Chase Hampton, is already being called “Mini Gerrit Cole” for his pitching resemblance to the illustrious Yankees ace.

Chase Hampton: Yankees’ ‘Mini Cole’

Certainly, there’s no one quite like Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ top pitcher, who is expected to win the American League Cy Young Award this season. However, right-handed pitcher Chase Hampton has received some good-natured comparisons to one of the top pitchers in the league.

According to Sam Briend, who oversees Yankees’ pitchers in the minors, Chase Hampton possesses a wide range of skills. Some of the players humorously liken him to a younger Gerrit Cole due to certain resemblances, although they are well aware that he isn’t Gerrit Cole. Briend expressed his admiration for Hampton’s progress, stating that he is quite impressive.

The Yankees signing pitching prospect Chase Hampton.
Chase Hampton/ Insta

The Yankees drafted Chase Hampton when he was 22 years old in the sixth round of the 2022 draft from Texas Tech. The pitcher had a solid season, which might earn him a promotion to Double-A and an opportunity to make it to the majors next year. In High A, Hampton had a 2-1 record with a 2.68 ERA in nine starts, and in Double-A, he went 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in 11 starts.

Briend mentioned that Chase Hampton’s fastball is one of the best in the Yankees’ organization, typically ranging from 93 to 95 mph with a high spin rate and a slight tail. Additionally, Hampton has a slider, a curveball, and a cutter in his pitching arsenal.

Drew Thorpe’s wild changeup making waves

Drew Thorpe, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, led all minor league players in strikeouts this season, totaling 186 strikeouts. He accomplished this while playing for both High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset. The Yankees selected Drew Thorpe in the second round of the 2022 draft from Cal Poly. His standout pitch is the changeup, and he has also made significant improvements in various aspects of his game.

Briend mentioned that Drew Thorpe’s changeup is reminiscent of the one thrown by Baltimore Orioles pitcher John Means, as it has a remarkable ability to drop sharply, making it a challenging pitch for hitters to handle.

Yankees prospect Drew Thorpe
Somerset Patriot

Briend stated that Drew Thorpe had excellent control over the changeup. He also noted the impressive horizontal movement on his fastball. Throughout the year, the pitcher effectively used this pitch, even at the Double-A level. Briend marveled at how Drew Thorpe could throw the changeup at will, often causing batters to miss it. It left an impression on other players, who described it as a pitch that seemed like a fastball but would suddenly vanish.

Drew Thorpe’s performance earned him the title of South Atlantic League Pitching Prospect of the Year. He achieved this recognition by maintaining a 2.81 ERA and a 10-2 record in 18 starts for Hudson Valley. During this time, he struck out an impressive 11.4 batters per nine innings while only walking 2.7.

When he briefly played in Double-A, the Yankees prospect continued to excel with a 4-0 record and a remarkable 1.48 ERA in five starts. He has numerous pitching weapons and could use them effectively throughout the year.

Another star rising

Clayton Beeter had a season with its ups and downs. When he played at Double-A, he managed a record of 6 wins and 2 losses with a 2.08 ERA in 12 starts. However, after his promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, his performance declined, and he ended up with a record of 3 wins and 5 losses, along with a 4.94 ERA in 15 games, of which 14 were starts. Additionally, his walk rate (BB/9) was quite high at 5.1.

Yankees pitching prospect Clayton Beeter in action for the AAA RailRiders
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But the Yankees are hopeful that a 25-year-old right-handed pitcher, who must be protected from the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, has learned a great deal from his experiences. The upcoming year will show a different version of Clayton Beeter. However, Briend acknowledged that the past year had been a bit humbling for the Yankees prospect because he had to change his entire approach when he transitioned to Triple-A. He couldn’t depend solely on his strengths and had to discover new ones.

In 2022, the Yankees acquired Clayton Beeter from the Dodgers in exchange for Joey Gallo. He throws a fastball in the mid-90s, with a strong spin rate that can reach up to 98 mph. He’s also known for his impressive slider. However, this year, the Yankees wanted him to focus on developing a changeup.

Yankees two FCL heroes

The Yankees’ Florida Complex League gained recognition for having several promising prospects, and among them was shortstop Roderick Arias. However, two standout pitchers on the team were Henry Lalane, aged 19, and Carlos Lagrange, aged 20, and their height of 6-foot-7 was not the only reason for their prominence.

Lalane, a left-handed pitcher born in the Bronx but raised in the Dominican Republic, had a record of 1 win and 0 losses with a 4.57 ERA in eight games. He managed to strike out 34 batters in 21 2/3 innings.

Yankees prospects at Somerset Patriots celebrate following their win in September 2023.
somersetpatriots

According to Briend, Lalane’s fastball typically averaged around 94 mph, and he was described as “extremely athletic” with good control and the ability to effectively maneuver the ball around the strike zone.

On the other hand, LaGrange, a right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic, posted a 4.97 ERA in 12 games, recording 63 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. LaGrange’s fastball hit 100 mph, initially averaging around 97 mph early in the season before settling at about 95 mph as fatigue set in. Briend described him as a big power arm who could throw two distinct fastballs, one being a significant sinker and the other a high-velocity heater. Additionally, LaGrange displayed impressive wipeout sliders.

Briend acknowledged that LaGrange was still relatively raw, especially for someone of his age and height, standing at 6-foot-7. However, he highlighted LaGrange’s ability to make adjustments, intelligence, growing awareness, and improved feel for the game. Briend explained that LaGrange had a strong foundation to build upon, despite his youth, and could be a cornerstone for the team.

Upcoming Yankees debut in 2024?

Chase Hampton, at the young age of 22, has quickly ascended through the ranks of the New York Yankees’ farm system, carving out a reputation as a pitcher with a promising future ahead. Drafted into the professional world of baseball just a year prior, Hampton’s inaugural season has been nothing short of remarkable. Transitioning between High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset, he has posted a commendable 3.63 ERA across 106 ⅔ innings, further embellishing his stats with 145 strikeouts. This performance has not only showcased his raw talent but also his fierce competitive spirit, aiming to dominate the opposition with every pitch.

As Hampton steps into the limelight of the Yankees’ big league camp for the first time, his journey is marked by more than just statistical achievements. It’s a testament to his adaptability, learning curve, and potential that has caught the eye of the Yankees’ top brass. Amidst the backdrop of the Spring Breakout games, an initiative by Major League Baseball to spotlight the game’s future stars, Hampton stands out as a key figure to watch. His inclusion in these games is not merely participatory; it represents a crucial step in his development and an opportunity to showcase his talents on a larger stage.

The Yankees, in pursuit of strengthening their pitching roster, especially after trading away several starting options, find in Hampton a beacon of hope and potential. His advanced arsenal, highlighted by an impressive strikeout rate, paints the picture of a pitcher ready to take on the challenges of the Major League. Hampton’s ambition is clear, aiming to not just participate but excel at the highest level of baseball. His efforts in camp, soaking up as much knowledge and experience as possible, underscore a dedication to growth and improvement.

chase-hampton-new-york-yankees
milb

Management’s praise, including that from General Manager Brian Cashman and Manager Aaron Boone, underscores the high expectations placed on Hampton’s shoulders. Recognized as a significant talent within the organization, his progression through the ranks and standout performances have earmarked him as a player to watch in 2024.

As Chase Hampton continues to hone his skills and adapt to the increasing challenges, the anticipation for his Major League debut grows. Positioned at the cusp of a significant breakthrough, his journey from a promising rookie to a potential key player for the Yankees underscores a narrative of dedication, talent, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. What do you think? Leave your comment below.

Standard Pitching Minor Leagues

YearAgeTmLevAffWLW-L%ERARA9GGSGFCGSHOSVIPHRERHRBBIBBSOHBPBKWPBFWHIPH9HR9BB9SO9SO/W
202119Texas TechNCAA410.83.864.2618700144.13621194170346141841.1957.30.83.56.92
202119ChathamSmr0104.914.9141000011116604014514521.364903.311.53.5
202220Texas TechNCAA540.5564.294.45151100056.25128278280727012471.3948.11.34.411.42.57
2023212 TeamsAA-A+NYY430.5713.634.320200000106.28551431337014502104381.1447.21.13.112.23.92
202321SomersetAANYY220.54.374.981111000059.25433298210680252481.2578.11.23.210.33.24
202321Hudson ValleyA+NYY210.6672.683.459900004731181451607700519015.913.114.74.81
WLW-L%ERARA9GGSGFCGSHOSVIPHRERHRBBIBBSOHBPBKWPBFWHIPH9HR9BB9SO9SO/W
Minors (1 season)Minors430.5713.634.320200000106.28551431337014502104381.1447.21.13.112.23.92
College (2 seasons)College950.6434.14.3733180011018749461245010613154311.3077.81.149.42.36
Other (1 season)Other0104.914.9141000011116604014514521.364903.311.53.5
All Levels (3 Seasons)1390.5913.914.3657390001218.21831069525860265184199211.237.513.510.93.08
Baseball Reference

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