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3 Rookie-Level Pitchers to Watch in 2019

Every year there seems to be a random prospect or two that seems to put themselves on the map with a good season or a string of good names. Many of these names would jump onto prospect lists for one reason or another.

Many of them are playing at the lowest levels of the minors, where coverage is limited.  This year is no different. With that in mind, we are taking a look at three players at the Rookie-level who have had good years and seem to be making a name for themselves in 2019.

Randy Vasquez

Vasquez, 20, is a right-handed pitcher who is in his second season as professional after signing with the Yankees on May 21, 2018.  His first season went well, going 1-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 30 1/3 innings in nine games, seven starts.

This season Vasquez has pitched in five games for the Pulaski Yankees of the Appalachian League.  He is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 24 innings of work.  Opponents are hitting only .155 against him.

Vasquez is not tall, but no short. He is listed on the roster sheet at 6-foot and is rather thin at 165 pounds. It is not a surprise that a guy like him may have flown under the radar by many, especially considering just last year he topped out at 90-91 miles per hour with his fastball.

Fast forward to 2019 and the Navarette, Dominican Republic native has become to make a name for himself. His fastball has jumped, from topping out at 91 last year, to 92-95 this season. To top it off he is producing above-average spin rates, in the 2,500-rpm range with the pitch. That is more than 200 higher than the major league average and would put him in the top 20 if he were a major league pitcher.

In addition to his fastball, Vasquez has a changeup and slider. His slide features a spin rate of 3,148-rpm which would be among the elite players in the game. For reference, New York Yankees relief pitcher Adam Ottavino has a spin rate of 2883-rpm on his slider.  Vasquez gets good extension and features an over-the-top motion in his delivery. He is certainly a prospect that will jump onto prospect rankings over the next few months.

Renso Mejia

Mejia, 19, was signed by the Yankees on January 6, 2018, and after missing all the 2018 season due to undergoing surgery he made his professional debut this season in the Dominican Summer League. He made just two appearances in the DSL, throwing seven innings and striking out five batters while walking three. On June 24 he earned a promotion to the Gulf Coast League Yankees.

In the Gulf Coast League Mejia has made four appearances, two starts, and earned a 2-1 record with a 1.69 ERA over 16 innings of work.  He has allowed just three earned runs, one being a home run, on 15 hits, two walks, and three hit batters. He also struck out 12 batters over that stretch.

Mejia is a four-pitch pitcher. The 5-foot 11-inch, 165-pound right-hander throws a fastball that is 91-94 mph with a spin rate in the 2100 RPMs. He compliments it with a slider, curveball, and a changeup.

Jhonatan Munoz

Munoz, 19, joined the Yankees organization as after signing as an international free agent on August 10, 2015.  Since he signed late, he did not make his professional debut until the next season. In 2016 he earned a 3-3 record with a 3.50 ERA over 15 games, nine starts, with 57 strikeouts over 54 innings.

He started the 2017 season back in the Dominican Summer League. He was 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in two games, one start, for the DSL Yankees before being promoted to the Gulf Coast League Yankees. In the GCL he was 3-3 with a 5.40 ERA over 11 games, eight starts, with 46 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings.

After one game in the DSL in 2018, Munoz would go on to pitch in eight games for the Pulaski Yankees of the Appalachian League.  Over 27 2/3 innings, he struck out 25 batters and earned a save. This season, Munoz returns to the Pulaski Yankees and is having some success. In five starts he has a 2-1 record with a 3.51 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.

Munoz’s fastball is not overpowering, he throws it in the low 90s with a spin rate in the 2300 RPM range. He also throws a slider, changeup, and a cutter.

 

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