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2018 Pinstripe Preview: Neil Walker

After going through much of the offseason unsigned, the Yankees swooped in and signed versatile infielder Neil Walker to a one-year deal worth $4-million. Despite signing the 32-year-old veteran to a big league deal, Walker is expected to begin the season coming off the bench, and he should see time at second, third, and first base with the Bronx Bombers. Now with his fourth big league club, Walker will make to look an impact on an otherwise youthful Yankee team.

BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #15: Ian Clarkin

Coming in at number 15 on our top prospect countdown is Ian Clarkin, a 22 year-old left handed pitcher in the Yankees organization. The Yankees selected him in the first round of the 2013 MLB amateur draft, with the 33rd overall draft pick. Clarkin had an impressive high school career, recording a lifetime 1.27 ERA during four years of varsity baseball at Madison High School. Interestingly, Clarkin will forever be connected to Aaron Judge, as he was selected directly after the burly outfielder when the Yankees selected them back-to-back.
Photo Credit: Bryan Green | Pinstriped Prospects
Clarkin has the goods. His size, 6’2" 195 pounds, is ideal. He has the big league level repertoire, comprised of four pitches -- sinking fastball, curveball, change, and cutter. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, he is a lefty. He is even Yankee stadium proof, with his sinking fastball and hard diving change-up making it difficult for opposing hitters to capitalize on the launching pad dimensions. 

Some early scouting reports liken him to Jose Quintana, which is quite the comparison. Clarkin lived up to this hype in 2014, pitching to a 3.12 ERA in his first 75 innings as a pro. Then the injuries began to pile up. He ended the 2014 season on the DL when he rolled his ankle fielding a bunt. 2015 was a disaster, as he missed the entire season due to elbow inflammation. He was able to bounce back in 2016, with a 3.31 ERA in about 100 innings for the Tampa Yankees. Although, last year he ended the season on the DL with a knee issue, he proved his elbow was healed and continued his development. 

Clarkin has flown under the radar due to the Yankees new haul of young stars. This may be a positive for him at this point. Taking the spotlight off Clarkin can ease the pressure to develop and stay healthy. Again, Clarkin has the stuff; it’s just a matter of staying healthy and continuing to grow as a pitcher. From the day the Yanks selected him, he has been projected as a front-end starter. Although this development has been slowed by injury, it hasn’t seemed to affect this projection for him. He has gained minimum velocity on his fastball (91-94 mph) and he has continued to develop his breaking pitches to compliment his sinking fastball. The sky is the limit for the young left-hander. Being that he has missed so much time, I would expect to see him no earlier than the end of 2018, more likely 2019 or beyond. So while he isn’t a young star grabbing the headlines as we approach spring training, I would keep an eye on Clarkin as a dark horse to quickly move up those prospect rankings come 2018.

Article by: Jesse Bartley