Meet the Yankees' pitching prospect you've never heard about
The Yankees got a first look at two of the best arms in their farm system Tuesday.
Righty Chance Adams and lefty Justus Sheffield looked the part during a 5-4 split-squad win over the Boston Red Sox.
So did an unheralded right-hander who isn't part of big-league camp.
Unless you're really hard core on Yankees' minor leaguers, you probably don't know the Pitt alum/die-hard Penn State football fan (say what???) who looked good pitching between Adams and Sheffield.
Matt Wotherspoon is making himself into a prospect, too, despite the Yankees taking him all the way in the 34th round of the 2014 draft.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder from Mountain Top, Pa. -- that's near Scranton and two hours east of Happy Valley -- impressed in his first big-league spring game by pitching a scoreless third while facing the top of the Red Sox lineup.
Wotherspoon walked leadoff hitter Brock Holt, but still retired Boston in order.
Andrew Benintendi, baseball's No. 1 prospect, lined to left, Holt was caught stealing for the second out, then Red Sox star Hanley Ramirez flied out to center on a 3-2 pitcher to end the inning.
"It's exciting, but you can't make a team on one day," Wotherspoon said.
Wotherspoon, 25, won't make the Yankees' season-opening roster, but debuting in the big leagues sometime in 2017 seems possible. He great numbers last season: 4-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 26 games, 2 starts, for Double-A Trenton, then 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 10 games, 1 start, for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Wotherspoon wound up with the Yankees as a late-round pick after he was drafted the year before a lot higher by Detroit, and opted to return to Pitt for his senior year.
Initially, his decision seemed to backfire because the Tigers took him in the 20th after he was 9-3 with a 3.70 as a Pitt junior. He wound up slumping to 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA as a senior, and thus dropped 14 rounds in the '14 draft.
"I didn't have a great year," Wotherspoon said. "I think it was more mental than anything. I had a decent game and then two rough games, then I kind of let it snowball a little bit. But honestly I'm thankful for struggling my senior year every day because for the first time in my life I struggled."
Wotherspoon is on the rise now ... just like hyped super prospects Adams and Sheffield.
Adams worked two shutout innings, allowing one hit with a walk and strikeout, while Sheffield had his moments (like retiring Ramirez on a grounder) while allowing a run over 1 2/3 innings.
Adams, who was 13-1 with a 2.33 ERA for high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last season, probably will open 2017 in Triple-A. Sheffield, who along with outfielder Clint Frazier is a big return from Cleveland in last July's Andrew Miller trade, will probably open in Tampa after making 19 low-A starts and five high-A starts last season.
"They all looked good," star of the day Greg Bird said after a two-homer game. "We've had a lot of young guys here today and they all I thought stepped up. Good arms. That's exciting."
As for Wotherspoon in 2017, he's likely to be a spot starter and reliever in Triple-A ... unless he pitches his way to Yankee Stadium.
"No matter where I end up I'm going to try to take it day by day and try to get better every day," he said. "If I keep throwing well, good things will happen."