#18. LHP Ian Clarkin was the 33rd overall pick in the 2013 draft at just 18 years-old but injuries have stunted his growth as a player. In his first three pro seasons, Clarkin totaled just 80 innings and missed the entire 2015 regular season with elbow issues. In 2016, Clarkin rebounded nicely down in Tampa throwing 98 innings while finishing with a 3.31 ERA.
Clarkin was drafted as a guy, like James Kaprelian, who was seen as being polished for his age and had a high floor without necessarily a number one starter type ceiling. While Clarkin still has a low 90’s fastball from the left side, to go along with a change up and a curve ball, he still has to remain healthy as the injuries have made it tough for him to progress. Clarkin again missed the end of the 2016 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
(Charleston RiverDogs File Photo)
Although Clarkin has battled the injury bug, he is still a southpaw and will turn just 22 just prior to spring training. With a couple good, healthy years, Clarkin could be a middle of the rotation candidate come 2019 or so. But staying on the field will be the biggest hurdle for Clarkin to overcome to give himself a chance.
Coming in at # 17 on the Yankees prospect list, and number nine in MLB.com top catching prospects in baseball, is 20 year-old Luis Torrens. Signed at 16 in 2012 out of Venezuela where he was primarily a short stop, the Yankees saw potential to turn him into a catcher. Torrens hit the ground running and has made the transition seamlessly.
Photo Credit: Dave Schofield
Torrens is looked at as a better defender than Gary Sanchez but does not possess the same power. His arm strength is there shown by his 41% caught stealing rate in 2016. Torrens is seen as an advanced hitter for his age and is willing to work pitchers into deep counts and utilizes all fields. Torrens batted .250 this past summer between low A and A ball, but did produce a .350 OBP which shows his maturity as a patient hitter with 15 home run potential as he continues to develop.
An interesting note about Torrens is that he will not be protected from the rule five draft coming up on December 8th during the Winter Meetings. For those who are unfamiliar with the rule five draft here is some info from MLB.com:
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
(Photo Courtesy: MiLB.com)
Since Torrens has only made it Single-A ball and is only 20 years-old, the likelihood of a team selecting him to be on their Major League roster for the entire season is pretty slim, but he is a sought after prospect. Assuming he stays put, Torrens could be in the mix for a backup role in 2018 or 2019, or could also be used as trade bait over the next year or two with Gary Sanchez seemingly in firm control of the catching position for the foreseeable future.
Torrens is my type of player; a good defender with a solid approach at the plate who is advanced for his age. I’m looking forward to watching him progress over the next couple of seasons.
Next up on the Prospect Watch will be Billy McKinney, a former A’s first round pick acquired from the Cubs in the Chapman deal, and Tyler Wade, a fourth round pick of the Yankees in 2013.
BYB ‘Series’ Writer Follow me on Twitter:@DManLucia