This afternoon the New York Yankees promoted left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield to the major league roster. Let’s take a quick look at what the young lefty offers.
The Cleveland Indians originally drafted Sheffield, picking him in the first round of the 2014 draft, 31st overall, from high school in Tullahoma, Tennessee. He pitched well in their system but was traded to the Yankees as a key component in the 2016 Andrew Miller trade.
Although slowed by injury he continued to perform well in 2017 with a 3.12 ERA and an 88/34 K/BB. Sheffield ranked fourth on the New York Yankees top 20 prospects for 2018 list with a Grade B+ and this report:
4) Justus Sheffield, LHP, Grade B+: Age 21, first round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2014, traded to Yankees in Andrew Miller deal; limited to 98 innings by strained oblique but performed reasonably, posting 3.12 ERA with 88/34 K/BB between Double-A and rookie ball rehab work; 93-96 with peaks at 97-98, highly impressive for a lefty; command of slider and change-up can be erratic but when everything is working he shows three plus pitches; I’d like to see a lower walk rate but overall his stock is holding. ETA late 2018.
Sheffield split 2018 between Double-A Trenton (28 innings) and Triple-A Scranton (88 innings), posting a combined 2.48 ERA with a 123/50 K/BB and 82 hits allowed. He moved to the bullpen in mid-August to prevent overwork and to help prepare him for a major league relief trial this September, but long-term he remains a starting pitcher prospect.
Listed at 6-0, 200, Sheffield is 22 years old. The basic profile hasn’t changed since the earlier report: his fastball is firmly in the 90s and he’s made good progress improving the consistency of his slider, curve, and change-up.
Sheffield’s K/IP and low hit rate aren’t lying about the quality of his stuff. The main concern remains his command, which is sometimes excellent but will wobble just often enough to be a problem on a bad day.
Overall he remains a strong B+ prospect and one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, with a good shot as a mid-rotation starter and perhaps more if the command reaches maximum potential.