TDG’S Triple Play: New York Yankees!
The Triple Play is back for a sixth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Phil Barrington and he is joined by a rotating panel of some of the best Dynasty Baseball writers in the business. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure!
This week I (@barrington_phil) am joined by Drew Klein (@aok_fan) and Bob Cyphers (@FZX_cyph21) follow us on Twitter and send us any questions, feedback, disagreements, what have yous, in the comments.
Everson Pereira, Age: 22, Position: OF
Analysis by: Bob Cyphers
“You can observe a lot by just watching.”
In 2023 observers were forced to watch a lot of subpar play across the diamond from the New York Yankees. Left field was one of the worst positional merry-go-rounds as ten different players manned this spot for at least one game this season. The season began with “fan not-so-favorite” Aaron Hicks as the veteran battling Oswaldo Cabrera as the breakout prospect who surprised with very nice production at the end of 2022. But by June, Hicks had been DFA-ed and Cabrera had been optioned back to Triple-A. Since then, left field has been a collective mess with a revolving door of names producing a line of .223/.308/.382 with a sub-.700 OPS through 149 games.
On August 22, after waiting way too long, the Yankees called up 22-year-old Everson Pereira to make his major league debut. Pereira had risen to a top-50 prospect as he showcased big power potential with above-average speed. In 81 games split between AA and AAA, he sported a batting average of .300 while slugging just shy of .550. He also had 18 home runs in those 81 games which nearly matches the 19 totaled by all Yankees left fielders through 149 games. Pereira seems like a promising young player cut from the typical Yankees mold of big-power potential with above average hard hit rates. His promotion generated a large amount of buzz amongst Yankees fans who have wanted to see what he can do in The Show for a while now. The one catch is that he is perhaps “too Yankee-like” in that he also carries a near 30% strikeout rate as well.
“It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
Stop me if you have heard this before, a player for the New York Yankees with above-average power but a swing-and-miss problem. I mean yeah, the description fits essentially their entire batting order. So why not add another bat with the same profile? Well, maybe because it feels like we have been down this road before. It was only a few years ago when another young Yankees outfielder took the prospect world by storm with a plus-power and plus-speed combination. This player was Estevan Florial who was ranked similarly as a top-50ish prospect but has never been able to break through at the major league level. Even in this troubled season for the Yankees, the now 25-year-old Florial was only recently called up because Harrison Bader was waived by the team, and the recently promoted Jasson Dominguez went down with an injury. Florial is an excellent athlete with the ability to play any outfield position and 25/25 production in 2023, but remained in the minors almost all season due to a continued 30 percent K-rate.
I am not saying Pereira is doomed to follow the same path as Florial, but I can’t help but get vibes of the infamous Spiderman meme when I look at their player pages together. I think Pereira carries a bit more prospect pedigree and has shown better success with younger age-to-level numbers. Even so it seems his raw talent and abilities have carried him to success in the minors despite a questionable hit tool and strikeout rates over 25 percent at every level since Complex League. In addition to his propensity to swing and miss, Pereira also hits the ball on the ground too much. His profile of plus-power and hard-hit rate would certainly benefit from lifting the ball more.
“It gets late early out here”
The New York Yankees have been looking for an answer in left field for several seasons now and Pereira should be given every opportunity to earn the full time role. He is part of the next wave of “Baby Bombers” that New York fans hope work out a bit better than the last one. Pereira is off to a slow start with a very uninspiring slash line of .143/.241/.186 over his first 21 games. Rookie struggles are part of the development process, especially for a 22-year-old, but one has to wonder just how long of a look the Yankees will take at the young outfielder. The Yankees will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and they are in danger of posting their first losing season since 1992, so patience is likely not abundant in the Bronx right now. Pereira will continue to get playing time to finish out this lost season, but he has already lost some playing time as of late, finding himself on the bench in four of the last ten games.
Perhaps after a taste of the majors and an off-season workout plan focusing on the fact that, “baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical” will have Pereira ready to hold down left field for the Yankees in 2024. He will need to get his strikeout rate under control and at least back under 30 percent compared to the almost 40 percent it stands at currently. His statcast metrics are solid despite his statistical struggles with an impressive hard-hit percentage over 50 percent. He also has a max exit velocity of 111.8 mph which shows he possesses top-end raw power. His hit-tool remains a question which seems to make it even more important for him to learn to lift the ball more as well, to take full advantage of his ability to hit the ball with authority. Time will tell if Pereira becomes a force to be reckoned with in the Yankees outfield or if he burns out like we have seen others do in the past.
And as for that all important question of what to do with Everson Pereira from a dynasty perspective, I leave you with one more quote from the late, great Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”
Michael King, Age: 28, Position: SP?
Analysis by: Phil Barrington
Michael McRae King was a Marlins 12th round draft pick back in 2016 out of Boston College; from the northeast, King was named the Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year after leading his high school to back-to-back state titles. After three seasons as a BC pitcher King finished with a career 3.14 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 209 innings pitched. King only made it one year as part of the Marlins franchise before he was sent to the Yankees (along with $250K in international signing money) for infielder Garrett Cooper and pitcher Caleb Smith (who I assure you one time was a thing) in November 2017. This deal happened a month before the much larger Marlins-Yankees deal that saw Giancarlo (he’ll always be Mike to me) Stanton move to New York, so you may have missed it (I only remembered because Caleb Smith, that one time, was a sleeper).
King worked his way through the Yankees minor league system for the next few seasons, making his MLB debut with a two-inning appearance in 2019. He suffered a right elbow injury that season that limited him to only 40 innings pitched, and then King joined the big league team for the abbreviated 2020 season. After two middling seasons (2020-21) things started looking up in 2022. King posted a 2.29 ERA with a 11.65 K/9 and only 2.82 BB/9 (yielding a very nice 4.13 K/BB rate) in 51 innings out of the bullpen. Sadly, a fractured right elbow ended his 2022 season on July 23rd, but 2023 has seen King produce more of the same, making him ripe for a Triple Play write-up.
Come at the King, best not miss
King was projected as a long reliever, and as we all know, those might be the least valuable pitchers in all fantasyland. That is how the Yankees have typically utilized him, up until late August that is. The Yankees called up many a prospect and also decided to give King a shot at being a starter. Lo and behold, over those five starts, King has looked great, with a 1.27 ERA and 29 Ks to only four walks over 21 innings. He hasn’t gone more than five innings in any of those starts, but it appears the Yankees like what they see, because with numbers like those, who wouldn’t?
King faces the Toronto Blue Jays later today with nothing on the line for the Yankees, so I wouldn’t start him; but it’s fantasy championships so make the add if you need to, all bets are off this time of year (thank you Logan Allen for pooping the bed against the Royals last night). Rostered in 65% of Fantrax and 55% of Yahoo leagues, if you have King, and he stinks it up tonight, hold tight. Spring Training and how King is deployed is worth waiting for, especially if the Yankees make him a permanent part of their 2024 rotation.
Drew Thorpe, Age: 22, Position: P, Level: Double-A
Analysis by: Drew Moon Klein
Tangled up in Drew
TINSTAPP – “There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.” Also known as “Pitchers break down” and “Whatever happened to Forrest Whitley?” (or Brien Taylor, Mark Appel, or any pitcher drafted by the Royals in the last five years).
In spite of TINSTAPP, I spend most of my research time looking at minor league pitching stats and scouting reports. That might be because I’m stubborn and enjoying swimming upstream, or because one day I want to be the “smartest person in the room,” or more likely, I know that when I find one that makes it, he’s all the more valuable to have on a roster and worth the time it took to find him. And even though it’s early days for this prospect, I think the Yankees have one worth betting on.
I’m Drew, Da Ba Dee
So with that introduction, let’s take a look at the Yankees’ number four prospect, a young pitcher who is off to a great start as a professional, Drew Thorpe. He was a second round pick in the 2022 draft out of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo where he had been named an All American in 2022, a year in which he was second in NCAA Division I in strikeouts. He was dominant in his final two years of college, with 10.4 K/9; 3.8 BB/9 and a 1.28 WHIP in 2021, which he improved to 12.8 K/9; 2.5 BB/9 and a 0.86 WHIP in 2022. Scouts graded his changeup and slider as his best pitches. The lower grade on his fastball at the time combined with playing in a small conference may have accounted for him falling to the 61st pick in the draft.
Behind Drew Eyes
In his first year of professional ball, across two levels, he’s posted a 2.52 ERA, with 11.8 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a WHIP of 0.98, which is elite at any level. Below is a table with the monthly breakdown. Although he gave up more hits and runs in April and May, the K% and BB% have been at elite levels throughout.
|Month||IP||ERA||SO (K%)||BB (BB%)||WHIP|
|April (High-A)||22||2.86||29 (31.9%)||9 (9.9%)||1.32|
|May (High-A)||21.2||4.98||23 (25.6%)||9 (10%)||1.43|
|June (High-A)||28.2||0.31||34 (34%)||6 (6%)||0.63|
|July (High-A)||36.2||3.44||52 (35.9%)||9 (6.2%)||1.06|
|August/September (AA)||30.1||1.48||44 (40%)||5 (4.5%)||0.66|
Scouting reports indicate that his changeup is elite and his slider projects to be a 55 grade pitch. The Yankees will work with him to continue to add velocity to his fastball. His greatest strength is his control, as illustrated by his strikeout and walk percentages.
The bad news is that he’s been on the shelf with an injury since early August, so we haven’t been able to see how he would have handled Double-A hitters over a longer period of time. The good news is that the injury is his non-throwing shoulder and the layoff will serve to manage his innings this year.
My Drew Heaven
It would be surprising if he’s available on the waiver wire in your dynasty leagues (if he is, please invite me to that league), but if his manager is nervous about pitching or the shoulder injury, you might be able to put together a trade package for him. It’s always a risk to trade for a pitcher, and you’ll have to pay the “Yankees tax” but I’ll go out on a limb and say he’s one of the young pitchers I’d take a risk on right now.