Brian Cashman looks like he’ll be amongst the busiest general managers at the trade deadline once again in 2017. A week after acquiring Garrett Cooper, the New York Yankees were involved in a seven-player trade, sending three prospects to the Chicago White Sox.
Rick Hahn continues to build a super farm system, consisting of team’s former top prospects.
The White Sox sent former Yankees David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle back to the Bronx, along with Todd Frazier. While the Yankees got struggling reliever Tyler Clippard off the books, they also sent three prospects the White Sox way.
BLAKE RUTHERFORD, OF
Rutherford was the highly-touted high school prospect entering the 2016 MLB Draft. Due to age concerns (he was already 19) and rumors about wanting a big signing bonus, Rutherford fell to the Yankees at 18. It was seemingly a perfect match as Rutherford, despite being from California, grew up admiring both Derek Jeter and the Yankees as a young boy.
“I had a lot of emotions,” Rutherford told me in June. “It was a big relief to be able to start my professional career, and to do it with a team that I grew up cherishing and cheering for my all my life. It felt extra special. I’m really thankful for all the people that were there on draft day with me, they were a big reason I was able to be drafted and make this dream come true.” (You can read the full interview here.)
Rutherford exploded onto the scene in the Appalachian League last year, slashing .382/.440/.618 with two home runs. His season came to a premature end when the Yankees shut him down after suffering a hamstring injury.
This season, Rutherford put together an All Star season in the South Atlantic League. He was slashing .281/.342/.391 with 20 doubles and two home runs. Now 20 years old, there was certainly some concern about the lack of power, especially considering that he seems to be profiling more as a corner outfielder than the centerfielder he was drafted as. That said, there was a lot to like.
When I saw Rutherford on that June day, he was able to place the ball where he needed to, waiting back on an opposite field hit-and-run, and delivering on the above RBI single up the middle. Rutherford does a good job using all fields to hit and has decent speed to be effective on the base paths, if they cut him loose. He moved great in left field, tracking down a ball deep into the corner, and has a relatively strong arm.
Rutherford was John Sickels’ Yankees No. 3 prospect for a reason. He has a pretty swing and plays well in the field at all three positions. Though he is likely two or three years away, he should develop into the star caliber prospect many expect of him.
IAN CLARKIN, LHP
Yesterday morning, I wrote about how Clarkin seems to be settling back after yet another trip to the disabled list. Apparently, the White Sox saw the same things.
Clarkin was part of the 2013 MLB Draft that served as a turning point for the Yankees youth rebellion. Going right after Aaron Judge, Clarkin was selected 33rd overall in the first round.
It isn’t Clarkin’s stuff that has been the issue. He is armed with a nice fastball, that once topped out at 95, but has lost just a tick. His curveball has a nasty 12-6 bite and when he lost command of it last season, he took his once-average changeup and made it a weapon. He also has a slider, which is a work in progress, but serves as a second breaking ball to add to his deceptive arsenal.
Seems to be back on track after a brief DL stint. Command looks good....only 2BB last 25.0IP. Excellent curve. https://t.co/hmmI8dZuLg— Nick Flammia (@TYRadioGuy) July 17, 2017
No, Clarkin’s biggest enemy has been his health. He spent a month on the DL in 2014 before missing all of 2015 with elbow issues. Right as he was back to full health, he missed the last six weeks of 2016 with a torn meniscus in his knee. This season, he spent a few weeks on the DL with a shoulder issue. That’s a lot of wear and tear for a 22 year old.
Clarkin was 4-5 at the time of the trade, going seven innings this past Sunday in a strong outing. He’s struck out 58 and walked 25 in 75.2 innings, so the strike out rate is well below expectations. He posted a very respectable 2.62 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP (behind a more-than-acceptable 3.60 FIP) to go with an impressive 1.37 ground-out-to-fly-out rate.
The lefty was going to be a big decision for the Yankees this offseason, as he was Rule 5 eligible. Now, they don’t have to consider him for the 40-man roster. With the bevy of moves the White Sox have made in pitching, they can be patient with Clarkin and let him work out his injury struggles.
TITO POLO, OF
I love Tito Polo. He’s a little spark plug that plays with high energy seemingly every play. Simply put, the Yankees minor league outfield depth is among the deepest in the game. There was little room for a fourth outfielder moving forward.
Polo came over to the Yankees in the Ivan Nova trade last season. The 22-year-old centerfielder out of Columbia stands at just 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, but plays much larger than that. He made his presence felt, making big plays in the World Baseball Classic for Columbia this past spring.
Polo was promoted from Tampa to Trenton the same week Jorge Mateo was. While Mateo stole the Thunder (see what I did there?), Polo was equally impressive in his first Double-A games. His first weekend with the Thunder, Polo went 8-for-16, with one home run, nine RBI and three stolen bases.
He is a toolsy player, who does a lot of things very nicely, but nothing at an elite level. Polo is the kind of player that fights his way through minor league systems and then becomes a steady and reliable big-leaguer for years, serving as a super-utility outfielder and pinch runner extraordinaire. He is a nice get by the White Sox, but won’t crack the Top 20 of one of the most stacked systems in recent memory.
Both teams walked away with needs. Rick Hahn continued to stock pile not simply prospects, but Top 100 prospects at that. He’s increased his odds of prospect success in the South Side’s rebuild. Even if just half of his recent acquisitions hit, the White Sox have some quality talent.
The Yankees bullpen was struggling. Many feel that Rutherford had made himself expendable with how far away from the bigs he was, paired with the surprising power outage. However, they felt he could have been used more as bait for a starting pitcher. Anyway you look at it, the Yankees got some much needed bullpen depth at a controllable cost, while getting some help at the corner infield positions that have been plaguing them.