Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2021: Clarke Schmidt (RHP, #2)
The New York Yankees made a risky move by selecting a pitcher recovering from Tommy John Surgery with the 16th pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. That pitcher, Clarke Schmidt, is their 2nd best arm in the farm system and has already spent time at the MLB level. With Schmidt, if he can make the majors he should be a solid rotation piece. However, he’s back on the 60-Day IL for 2021 with elbow problems for the 3rd year (2017, 2019, 2021). If he comes back strong is it just worth it to sell high on the prospect?
CLARKE SCHMIDT, RHP (#2):
Age/Date of Birth: 25 Years Old (02/20/1996)
Most Recent Team(s) (Level and Year): New York Yankees (MLB, 2020)Trenton Thunder (Double-A, 2019), Tampa Tarpons (Class-A+, 2019), Yankees East (Rookie, 2019)
MLB Career Statistics (2020): 0-1 Record, 7.11 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, 6.1 Innings, 7 Strikeouts, 5 Walks (3 Games, 1 Game Started)
Most Recent Yearly Statistics (2019): 6-5 Record, 3.47 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 90.2 Innings, 102 Strikeouts, 28 Walks, (27 Games, 25 Games Started)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/209 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted by the Yankees in the 1st Round of the 2017 MLB First Year Player Draft with the 16th Overall pick
MLB ETA: 2021
CLARKE SCHMIDT SCOUTING GRADES (20-80 SCALE):
What to Know:
Undrafted out of Allatoona High School (Acworth, GA), Clarke Schmidt had a commitment to attend the University of South Carolina (NCAA D-I, SEC; Columbia, SC). A high school prospect who was rated highly (#108 by 9Baseball, #230 by Perfect Game USA), his prospect stock wasn’t high enough for teams to take a late-round flyer given the strength of his commitment.
Schmidt would spend his years 2014 through 2017 with the University of South Carolina, earning himself numerous awards including preseason All-American 1st and 2nd team honors in the SEC and being ranked a consensus Top-10 SEC product going into the 2017 MLB First Year player draft. However, while he pitched to a 3.21 ERA during college, Schmidt’s prospect stock was down as he was held to just 9 games his draft-eligible junior year. At mid-season, Clarke Schmidt underwent Tommy John Surgery (TJS).
The New York Yankees, picking at 16th overall decided to take their bets with the South Carolina pitcher who was falling quickly on draft boards. By taking the injured pitcher, the Yankees were able to sign him to a below-slot bonus of $2.1843 million (as they were able to use the savings to get other talent like Matt Sauer the #26 Yankees prospect). Though, they would have to wait on his recovery.
In 2018, Clarke Schmidt would make his professional baseball debut with the Yankees East and West of the Gulf Coast League (Rookie Ball, GCL) as he was making a recovery from the previous years TJS. He would pitch in 6 games across the two teams and then move up to the Staten Island Yankees (Short Season Class-A, New-York Penn League) where he would pitch another 2 games to a 1.08 ERA. The promise was shown as he was coming back from a major surgery and was dominating opposition at a similar age.
In 2019, Schmidt would begin the season with the Tampa Tarpons (Class-A+, Florida State League), though he would end up on the IL twice during the season with elbow inflammation and again spent some time on rehab in the GCL. Luckily, he would recover and wound up spending most of the season with the Tarpons before earning a 3 game promotion at the end of the year with the Trenton Thunder (Double-A, Eastern League) as he helped lead them to the Eastern League championship.
In 2020, Schmidt was a non-roster Spring Training invitee and after a few months away from baseball due to COVID-19 was assigned to the Yankees alternate site. Later in the season Schmidt would make his MLB debut in the 2nd game of a 7 inning doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles, though he didn’t do great (1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K). He would get a spot start and another relief appearance in the season, though he racked up just 6.1 total innings of work.
As of now in 2021, Clarke Schmidt has yet to make an appearance as he experienced an extensor strain near his right elbow. There was supposedly no damage to his UCL (which required TJS back in 2017), though the Yankees placed him on the 60-Day IL which no more information being shared.
Clarke Schmidt with his pitches has incredible stuff. He throws a 2-seam/sinker and a 4-seam/cutter fastball that each sit in the mid-to-low 90s that feature good movement. He also has a curveball that the Yankees have turned into his best pitch (sacrificing a failing slider) sitting around the mid-to-low 80s with big break and spin. Finally, he has a changeup that grades above-average which helps him create deception.
As a pitcher, Schmidt has great control of his delivery though sometimes lacks the command he needs on pitches when falling behind. His delivery isn’t incredibly smooth, but it also adds to his deception, though the biggest concern with Schmidt is his ability to stay healthy. His mechanics do frighten many scouts.
What Will the Future Hold?
Clarke Schmidt is one of very few prospects in the Yankees system that has yet to make an appearance in 2021, though because he was with the Yankees closely in 2020 by spending time at the alternate site, that isn’t incredibly worrying to me. Though, the fact that he is on the IL again, and the 60-Day IL at that, does worry me. If/when Schmidt gets the chance to pitch in 2021, I expect that he’ll be slotted to pitch with the Somerset Patriots (Double-A) as to give him experience before moving quickly up to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders (Triple-A) if he performs well.
With an MLB ETA of 2021 and the fact that Schmidt has already been with the Yankees in 2020, it’s expected Schmidt will be back in the pinstripes soon enough. He was an outside-shot contender for a starting pitcher role, though the injury put an end to that hype. Personally, and while I am incredibly hopeful about the MLB potential that Schmidt has, I see a bit too much of James Kaprielian in him. The Yankees are notorious for not developing pitchers (Luis Severino isn’t THAT good) and I ultimately think Schmidt will be added to that list of “what-ifs”. It may be time to consider (if he comes back healthy) making Schmidt a trade piece at the deadline.