Baby Bomber Pitchers: Clarke Schmidt
This is the fourth in a series on high level minor league (AA/AAA) Yankee pitchers who are potential candidates for a call up when the eventual injury or injuries result in the big league team needing an extra arm.
Today we will look at Clarke Schmidt.
The Yankees drafted Clarke Schmidt in 2017 after he had an elbow injury (he had Tommy John surgery). Coming back from that, Schmidt only pitched 23 innings in 2018.
In 2019, Schmidt spent most of the year at high A, striking out 9.81 batters per 9 innings with a 3.41 walk rate which is a bit high for someone with such good stuff. Of course, control takes a while to regain after Tommy John Surgery, so that’s not too worrying, at least at this point. Schmidt finished the season at AA where he pitched 19 innings and had a 9.0 K/9 rate and only .47 walks per 9. He only walked 6 batters in his final 35 innings at high A as well (1.54 K/9) which fits the narrative that it took a while for his control to return.
Schmidt also keeps the ball on the ground. He only allowed 3 home runs in 82 innings at high A and AA and had 56.2% and 44% ground ball rates at those levels. He allowed .33 home runs per 9 innings at those levels which is outstanding even if it is the minor leagues (The Major League leader, Charlie Morton, was at .69 in 2019).
Clarke Schmidt’s xFIP (ERA with luck and park effects removed) was 2.97 at high A and only 2.47 at AA. That’s what happens when you don’t give up a lot of home runs. It’s a reason, also, why so many experts are very high on this kid.
Schmidt is 6 foot 1 and weighs 200 pounds. His main pitch is a 92-94 MPH heavy sinker. Obviously, the 2019 data represents a very small sample size. But if Schmidt can control his walks and if he can strike out anywhere near 9 batters per 9 innings, while keeping the ball in the park, he’ll remain a very exciting prospect.
I’d expect Schmidt to start the season at AA with a mid-season promotion to AAA if he continues to perform. He will be on the short list for a promotion to the major league team if he continues to pitch this well.