Prospect Spotlight: Michael King
First acquired in a relatively small-time, 40-man sell-off move around this time last year that sent 1B Garrett Cooper and LHP Caleb Smith to Miami, Michael King was seen as a young right hander with promise, but one still years away from making any significant Major League impact. At the time, the important part of that trade was the $250,000 international bonus pool money Miami included, which we all thought was to be used on Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, obviously, never ended up in the Bronx and will not pitch at all in 2019 after undergoing offseason Tommy John Surgery.
|Photo Credit: Todd Hiller/Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders|
Fast forward one year later and it’s safe to say the Yankees found a diamond in the rough in that trade. Back in the Fall of 2017, King was still an unheralded right-handed starter at the single-A level, coming off a good year, but not much was thought of him. The Boston College product threw to an 11-9 record with a 3.14 ERA with the Marlins’ single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2017, but all the pieces started coming together for the 23-year-old in 2018 as he skyrocketed through the Yankees’ system and put himself in the conversation for a big-league debut in 2019.
King began the 2018 season with the Tampa Tarpons (Class A) and quickly impressed. Although his 1-3 record doesn’t pop off the page by any means, the young righty dazzled to the tune of a 1.79 ERA, 1.070 WHIP, 10.04 K/9 and .219 BAA. By mid-May, he had already been promoted to double-A Trenton, and only continued to improve.
With the Thunder, King went 6-2 with a pristine 2.09 ERA over 12 appearances (11 starts). Furthermore, his peripherals improved at the higher level of competition. King’s double-A WHIP was 0.950, he still struck out a healthy 8.34 per nine innings, and his K/9 ratio improved to 5.85.
By the time August rolled around, King was on the move again, this time earning a promotion to triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He would finish the season with the RailRiders by going 4-0 with an impossibly low 1.15 ERA over six starts. Over that span his WHIP was just 0.670, and he struck out 31 batters in 39 innings.
King is said to have maturity beyond his years, and while he doesn’t necessary light up the radar gun, his arsenal includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a greatly improved slider and a changeup. His work ethic was what most impressed his coaches in 2018. Per MLB Pipeline, King currently sits at #24 on the Yankees’ prospect rankings, and his highest graded pitch on the 20-80 scale is his fastball which grades out at a 60. While his future might not be as a starter, unless he can improve his secondary pitches, there’s still hope that he can impact the big-league club this upcoming season and beyond.
All the talk in the early goings this offseason has been centered around pitching, and for good reason. The Yankees' shortcomings in the rotation are what ultimately led to an ALDS exit this past season. As things stand, the Yankees’ rotation only consists of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and the recently re-signed CC Sabathia. Might Cashman be able to pull off a trade for an ace like Corey Kluber or James Paxton? Perhaps.
Michael King might end up being a piece of a trade for a frontline starter, but if not, the Yankees have a young, relatively unknown stud waiting in the wings for 2019, ready to make his presence felt. And at just 23 years old, should he make it to the show and impress, New York will have another foundational piece for their rotation they might be able to lean on for years to come.
Article by: Andrew NatalizioFollow @anatalizio0523 Follow @BronxBomberBall