Today we continue our Yankees Top-30 Prospects Countdown for the 2020 season with LHP T.J. Sikkema.
The first left-handed pitcher to be revealed so far, TJ Sikkema was drafted this past year out of Missouri, where he led the SEC in ERA (1.32) and was 3rd amongst all Division I pitchers. Drafted in the supplemental 1st Round (38th) by the Yankees, Sikkema was seen as an underrated prospect, ranking 57th. While he only played 10.2 professional innings in 2019 this was most likely for him to work on his mechanics as he has an awkward delivery, yet his future of being a potential back-end rotation piece still looks solid. At worst, he’s expected to make the MLB as a solid relief arm.
(Screenshot From Pinstriped Prospects Video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQdFDMq-m5M)
T.J. Sikkema, LHP (#17):
Age/Date of Birth: 21 Years Old (07/25/1998)
2019 Team(s): Staten Island Yankees (Class A Short Season)
2019 MiLB Statistics: 0-0 Record, 0.84 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 10.2 Innings, 13 Strikeouts, 1 Walk, (4 Games, 4 Games Started)
Height/Weight: 6’0”/221 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted by the New York Yankees with the 38th Overall Pick (CBA) of the 2019 MLB Draft
MLB ETA: 2022
Josh Smith Scouting Grades (20-80 Scale):
What to Know:
Coming out of his junior year at Missouri University, T.J. Sikkema was ranked as one of the top Left-Handed pitching talents (#7 LHP, #23 Pitcher, #57 Overall, from MLB) going into the draft. Being that low seemed a little careful, as that season he not only led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) but he also ranked 3rd across all Division I pitchers with a 1.32 ERA, but his limited ceiling of being a lower rotation piece probably held his value down to some. The New York Yankees however drafted Sikkema above his value, using the 38th Pick Overall and in the supplemental first-round with a pick that they got from the Sonny Gray trade with the Cincinnati Reds. Ultimately, they agreed to a bonus at slot value of $1,949,800.
About three weeks after signing, T.J. Sikkema was assigned to the Gulf Coast Yankees West, spending all of two days there and not recording a single appearance before being moved up to the Staten Island Yankees. While there Sikkema recorded 4 starts, totaling 10.2 innings while pitching to a 0.84 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP. After a month, Sikkema was sent down to the Pulaski Yankees, where he wouldn’t record any appearances but would stay for the remainder of the season. In what very little game performance we have to go off of, Sikkema did well in his debut, but given the quick demotion, not being a circumstance of injury, make it seem as though the Yankees found something they’d like him to work on fixing before demonstrating against easier competition.
Overall, T.J. Sikkema controls a three pitch arsenal with all of them rated as average or above, yet none shining incredibly high. He’s an interesting prospect as his fastball tends to sit from 88-91 MPH from a 3/4 arm slot, which he can boost to 93-95 MPH when necessary and from an overhand arm slot. His slider sits between 78-83 MPH with high spin rates and he can change the shape of how it moves reasonably well. With that he also has a good change-up which he uses to keep right-handed hitters honest. His pitching is awkward because of an interesting delivery, but even with that his tools play out better than grades would indicate.
What Will the Future Hold?
After moving down to the Pulaski Yankees after playing well with the Staten Island Yankees, it would be expected that he’ll be starting the 2020 season back in Rookie ball. While this isn’t promising for a pitcher who played well in college to be sitting at a lower level the season after being drafted, it would be expected that he makes quick moves up the system this season if he can fix (what I believe is a mechanical problem) why the Yankees moved him down.
With a high floor of being a good MLB reliever and a ceiling of being a good back-end of the rotation piece, this will go a long way towards keeping his prospect value high. This upcoming season should only really increase his value if he is able to show more of his more hopeful potential but if not his comfortability in a potential future will bode well for him. Given a lack of statistics to run off of currently, I’m going to take the cheap-out and say he’ll sit around the mid-teens at this time next season as well.