Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2020: Michael King (RHP, #25)
Today we continue our Yankees Top-30 Prospects Countdown for the 2020 season with RHP Michael King.
Coming to the Yankees from the Miami Marlins in 2017, the Yankees bought in with King at the perfect time after a great 2017 season. King’s breakout came in 2018 where he broke into the Yankees Top-Prospects lists, but an injury to start 2019 helped bring about a drop to his stock. He did make his MLB debut at the end of the 2019 season and is looking to play in Triple-A again this season before hoping to play well again to get a long-term shot in the big leagues.
(Screenshot From Yes Network Video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkSNj1vOJtc)
Michael King, RHP (#25):
Age/Date of Birth: 24 Years Old (05/25/1995)
2019 Team(s): Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A) and Trenton Thunder (Double-A)
2019 MiLB Statistics: 3-2 Record, 5.48 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 46.0 Innings, 47 Hits, 44 Strikeouts, 10 Walks (11 Games, 8 Games Started)
Height/Weight: 6’3”/210 Pounds
MLB ETA: 2020
Michael King Scouting Grades (20-80 Scale):
What to Know:
Coming out of Boston College, the Miami Marlins drafted Michael King with the 353rd Pick (12th Round) of the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft. He was a successful pitcher in college, pitching to the second best career ERA in team history at 3.14, along with setting records for innings pitched (104.0) and games started (16) for Boston College in 2016. After signing that season, King spent time in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) for 4 games, New York-Penn League (Class A Short Season) for 10 games, and made it up to the South Atlantic League (Class A) for 1 game at the end of the season. Totaling 30.2 professional innings that year, he pitched to a collective 4.11 ERA, a good showing for a college pitcher from a non-top baseball program.
Michael King spent his next season in the South Atlantic League, starting 25 games (pitching in 26 total) to a fantastic 3.14 ERA over 149.0 innings, with a 1.09 WHIP, 106 strikeouts and 21 walks alongside an 11-9 record. It was after this season that the New York Yankees traded 1B Garrett Cooper and RHP Caleb Smith to the Miami Marlins to clear up 40-Man Roster space and in return received Michael King along with international bonus pool money (in hopes to get the top talent, Shohei Ohtani).
In his first season as a New York Yankee, Michael King really made himself into a prospect with his best season to date, boosting himself to the 22nd Yankees prospect ranking after previously being unranked. He again played with 3 teams this season, pitching with each of the then-Tampa Yankees, now Tampa Tarpons (Class A Advanced), Trenton Thunder (Double A), and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple A). Over this season he pitched to a combined 1.79 ERA over 24 starts (25 games) and 161.1 innings with a K/BB rate of 152/29 and a WHIP of 0.91.
In 2019, Michael King pitched in 11 games, mostly with Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but was kept on the shelf from April 4th to July 11th with a stress reaction in his right elbow, which contributed towards his prospect stock drop from 12th in the preseason to 19th at mid-season. This didn’t mean all was lost for King as he spent time in the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues on rehab assignments, but did see very poor performance with the Trenton Thunder (9.95 ERA) and much higher numbers with the RailRiders (4.18 ERA). The Yankees did see through this though, and on September 27th, Michael King made his Major League debut with a 2 Inning, 2 Hit, 1 Run (unearned), a 1 Strikeout performance against the Texas Rangers.
Overall, Michael King’s key to success comes in with his fastball, which he commands very well and sits around 90-95 MPH depending on if he is throwing a 2-seam, 4-seam, or a cutter. He won’t get high strikeout rates with this pitch, but it does generate good groundout percentages. He does have three pitches in his repertoire including a slider and changeup, along with the best control and command of all pitching prospects that the Yankees have. He’s expected to be a back-end rotation piece or middle reliever given his high floor, but his low ceiling keeps his stock low.
What Will the Future Hold?
Unfortunately, not starting the 2019 season until July made King’s season look much worse than it truly was and has again led to a drop from 22nd at the end of last year to 25th in the Yankees system at this preseason. The Yankees already optioned him back down to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders along with INF Thairo Estrada and RHP Ben Heller, so he’ll obviously start the season there. However, with the injury to Luis Severino and unknown from James Paxton and Jordan Montgomery, there is a good chance that King could be a rotation piece for the Yankees in 2020.
At this point, I’m expecting King to lose his prospect status in 2020 as I believe he will accumulate either over 50 innings pitcher or 45 days on the Yankees active roster. If this doesn’t happen, King will probably see his ranking stay the same given his near certainty for being a an average big-leaguer.