BBB Top Prospect Countdown #9: Ian Clarkin

Many Yankees fans have said that the team desperately needs a solid left-handed starter to mix up the rotation that currently boasts four righties and the inconsistent C.C. Sabathia. Although the Yankees have no major league-ready southpaws on the farm, a young lefty hurler could join the team’s rotation as early as 2017. Coming in at #9 on the Bronx Bomber Blogger’s top Yankees prospects countdown sits their highest ranked LHP — Ian Clarkin.
Photo Via MILB.com
Breakdown
Clarkin has been a highly touted prospect in the Yankees system since he was drafted 33rd overall in the 1st round of the 2013 MLB draft. The lefty had committed to pitch at the University of San Diego, but elected to sign with the Yankees instead. In Clarkin’s first full year of pro-ball, he dazzled hitters to a 3.12 ERA while striking out 75 in as many innings between Charleston (A) and Tampa (A+) throughout 2014.

Unfortunately for the southern California native, his sophomore campaign didn’t go so smoothly. Elbow inflammation kept Clarkin out for the entire 2015 season, but the lefty still found a way to improve while sidelined.

"I watched every outing of Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, David Price, took notes on all those guys, see what made them successful,” said Clarkin. “After this long year of being hurt, I think it's going to help me in the long run be a better pitcher."

It seems as though Clarkin’s injury is now a thing of the past, as he was able to throw 24.2 innings in the Arizona Fall League after the 2015 season without feeling any inflammation.        

Projection
Many scouts around the game believe that Clarkin has the potential to be a top of the rotation type pitcher, and the LHP will look to make strides toward reaching this projection in 2016. Clarkin will likely begin the season back in high-A Tampa, and if he can stay healthy, Yankees fans can expect to see him reach AA this summer.

His mechanics resemble the likes of Clayton Kershaw, as his wind-up features a high leg kick while he raises his hands above his head. Many scouts believe that Clarkin’s deceptive wind-up effectively allows him to hide the ball well, while still showcasing solid arm speed. Clarkin is a strike-throwing machine, and can locate his fastball, curveball and change-up well against both lefties and righties. Some scouts have reported that the next step in his development is to improve his command and limit the number of pitches he leaves over the plate.
Photo Via Clarkin's Instagram
The lefties pitch-arsenal features a sinking-fastball that sits around 90-93 mph, which could be perfect for pitching in Yankee Stadium, as the pitch induces plenty of ground balls. Clarkin also boasts a 12-6 curveball and a change-up, which some scouts around the game believe to be his best pitch.

"I believe this will be Clarkin's best off-speed pitch when he is fully developed,” said Ryan Parker of Baseball Prospectus. “The curveball will always look better but in terms of effectiveness his changeup wins out, has both deception and just enough life to his arm side. He can also throw it for strikes or chase pitches to both batters. He is comfortable doubling up on the pitch and using it at any point in the count.”

Although Clarkin’s development was delayed after sitting out all of 2015, the LHP is just 20-years old, and has plenty of time to develop in the minors. 2016 will be a telling season for Clarkin, as if he can stay healthy throughout the season he will continue to be one of the Yankees top pitching prospects. If he can improve his fastball command as he continues to move through the minors, Yankees fans can expect a reliable, front-end type starter out of Clarkin. 

Realistically, I wouldn’t expect to see Clarkin before late-2017 at the earliest, but the Bomber’s 2018 rotation could be lethal. Baring trade or injury, the team’s 2018 rotation would likely feature Luis Severino, James Kaprielian, and Clarkin. If each pitcher lives up to their potential, the Yankees could have something they haven’t had since 2009 — one of the best rotations in the league.

MLB Comparison: Mark Mulder.
You can view his minor league statistics here.
You can keep up with our full top 30 list with links to our breakdowns HERE.

Article by: Sammy Criscitello
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