Today we continue the Yankees Top-30 Prospects Countdown for the 2020 season with RHP Frank German.
Originally just cracking the Draft-200 in 2018 with a 191st place ranking, Frank German has seen his prospect value jump around these past few years, with getting as high as being #23 in the Yankees system after the 2019 Draft due to an quick 3 MPH increase in velocity. An injury kept him out of action for about a month in a half over the last half of the 2019 season with the Tampa Tarpons as he saw his numbers increase greatly and a lack of previously shown control. A smart pitcher, if German regains his former control, a future in a rotation is a possibility but if not a career as a reliever is to be expected.
(Screenshot From Prospects Live Video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPzrR-eAGgI)
Frank German, RHP (#29):
Age/Date of Birth: 22 Years Old (09/22/1997)
2019 Team(s): Tampa Tarpons (Class A Advanced)
2019 Statistics: 18 Games Started (19 Appearances), 4-5 Record, 4.11 ERA, 81.0 Innings, 38 Walks, 87 Strikeouts, 1.40 WHIP
Height/Weight: 6’2”/195 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted in the 4th Round of the 2018 MLB Draft with the 127th Pick by the Yankees
MLB ETA: 2021
Frank German Scouting Grades (20-80 Scale):
What to Know:
The New York yankees originally drafted the then 4th year college junior Frank German with the 4th Round and 127th Pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, making him the highest drafted pitcher and third overall player from North Florida, trailing only Todd Dunn (1st Round, 35th Overall in 1993) and Donnie Dewees (2nd Round, 47th Overall in 2015). That season, German was considered a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, as he put up a Top-5 ERA (1.58) and Top-6 WHIP (0.83) in NCAA Division I baseball, which put him up against a list of 24 other notable draftees including who would become the Number 1, 2, and 3 Overall Picks: Casey Mize (DET), Joey Bart (SFG), and Alex Bohm (PHI). Signing for a below-slot $347,500 (slot value of $430,400), his money saved helped sign other 2018 prospects Josh Breaux (2, 61) and Ryder Green (3, 97), both with articles coming soon.
Less then two weeks after signing, for his 2018 season German was assigned to the Rookie Level GCL Yankees West, where he spent one game before moving to the Class A Short Season Staten Island Yankees where he finished out the season. He quickly added velocity to his fastball, increasing his range from 94-98 MPH, which is common for Yankee farmhands, and started to show promise with both a changeup and curveball. Pitching to a 2.08 combined ERA over 30.1 innings, his first glimpse of professional baseball looked promising.
However, his 2019 season brought about three major changes to his game with a change in his repertoire, loss of his consistent control, and injury. Starting the season with the Class A Advanced Tampa Tarpons, German officially started to call what scouts labelled as a curveball into a slider, which sits around the mid-80s and has tight break. Still graded as an average secondary pitch, this change helped confirm more from what was previously considered a “slurve”. At the middle of the season German’s ceiling was showing signs of improving, but he saw nearly a tripling in his walk rate from 2018 to 2019 (from 1.5 per 9 to 4.2 per 9), due in large part to a lack of overall control. This may have been due to shoulder soreness which kept German out and on the IL from July 6th to August 1st, keeping him from returning to Tampa until August 15th.
Overall, German still has a good floor as a player who could reach the MLB as a starter which was a part part of his allure coming out of college ball. After showing big upsides with quick improvements to his game across the board in 2018, he took an obvious step-back in 2019 which has kept his prospect ceiling has yet to truly improve as German looks to solidify his game. At this point, the lack of control shown in 2019 is the main worry and the main piece keeping him from running up the prospect charts in the Yankees organization.
What Will the Future Hold?
A season starting at the Class A Advanced Tampa Tarpons seems like the obvious holding spot for Frank German as he has to continue with working on his control and command of his secondary pitches. Usually, the jump from Class-A to Double-A is seen as the biggest for minor leaguers, so an expectation that he arrives with the Double-A Trenton Thunder should truly only occur in the late season (or given the current situation, maybe not until 2021).
At this point, given the large amount of areas of work necessary for German to stay as a potential long-term starting rotation piece, a move to the bullpen after 2020 seems like a likely scenario to occur. Already reaching speeds of 98 MPH with his fastball in 2019, a move away from increasing stamina could help him add a few more ticks to the radar gun and help him focus on one main secondary pitch, which would probably be his changeup. That would most likely help him reach the majors come 2021, if at all. If not, 2022 seems like the most likely time for German to crack an MLB roster at this time.