Clarke Schmidt, the 24 year old New York Yankees right-hander, is on the mound today at George M. Steinbrenner field against the Baltimore Orioles. Schmidt is making a very good case for himself as the fifth starter in the Yankee rotation, despite the fact that that he’s never pitched above AA before.
Schmidt on the spring has pitched a scoreless five innings with 1 home run, 6 strikeouts and two base on balls. In three games in relief, he has pitched to a 1.80 ERA. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs.com said of Schmidt:
Schmidt throws four average or better pitches and enough strikes to start…He profiles as a number four starter.
Baseball America also projects that Schmidt, currently the Yankees second best prospect, has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. Schmidt is most likely vying with not only other young arms, such as Mike King, Deivi Garcia, Albert Abreu and others for the fifth starter position, but he is also up against veteran players such as Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa.
Schmidt gets his first start of Spring Training today against the Orioles and it will be exciting to see how his stuff plays against a good offensive team. Schmidt may just step up to be the most effective of the available starters to round out the rotation.
There are however, several obstacles to Schmidt making the roster and one is that he is not on the 40 man roster. Another argument against Schmidt making the roster is that, as Andy Martino of SNY.com reports, scouts believe his stuff is still raw and needs the polish of more time in the minors.
One scout replied when asked if Schmidt were ready for the big leagues:
“I don’t think so,” the scout said. “Fastball command and usage still a work-in-progress. No question has raw stuff.”
Wherever Schmidt begins the season, Yankee fans will cheer for his continued improvement and performance. A good start against the Orioles would be a huge step in the right direction for Schmidt.