Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2021: Hayden Wesneski (RHP, #30)
Over the next 30 days, we will be going player-by-player to look at the Yankees Top 30 prospects (according to MLB Pipeline). Today we start with right-handed pitcher Hayden Wesneski. A newcomer to the Top-30 prospect list, the Yankees used him as a closer in 2019, so what should we expect from him in 2021?
Yankees prospect, Hayden Wesneski (@HWEZ02) was up to 98.7mph today in LIVE AB’s. Guy throws some wiffle balls. #DSTfamily pic.twitter.com/4MaqiPAhvn — Kevin Poppe, CSCS (@TheKevinPoppe) March 13, 2021
HAYDEN WESNESKI, RHP (#30):
Age/Date of Birth: 23 Years Old (12/05/1997)
Most Recent Team(s) (Level and Year): Pulaski Yankees (ROA, 2019)
Most Recent Yearly Statistics (2019): 18 Games, 1-1 Record (3 Saves), 4.76 ERA, 28.1 Innings, 6 Walks, 30 Strikeouts, 1.34 WHIP
Height/Weight: 6’3”/210 Pounds
Acquired: Drafted in the 6th round of the 2019 MLB First Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees with the 195th overall pick.
MLB ETA: 2022
HAYDEN WESNESKI SCOUTING GRADES (20-80 SCALE):
What to Know:
Originally drafted out of Cy-Fair High School (Cypress, TX) in the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays with a 33rd round pick, Wesneski instead chose to pursue college at the Division-I level with Sam Houston State (Huntsville, TX) in the Southland Conference (SLC).
In his college career, Wesneski had two major milestones. During his freshman year (2017), he led all freshman across NCAA baseball with 10 wins (over 19 games, 13 starts) while helping to lead Sam Houston to the schools first super-regional appearance. During his junior year (2019), Wesneski set a school D-I record with 110 strikeouts which he had along with his solid 3.32 ERA over 105.2 innings.
After being drafted, the New York Yankees sent him directly to the Pulaski Yankees (ROK, Appalachian League) where he was used as a relief and closer arm. This is common for starters coming from the draft right out of their college seasons, as to get them experience in professional ball while not over using their arms in the early going. However, there should be no expectation of him being a reliever/closer at this point.
Hayden Wesneski uses a three-quarters arm slot that opens early in his delivery and he keeps it pretty consistent across his pitch selection. He has a fastball that has a wide range of where it sits going between 88 and 95 MPH between his 2-seam (sits high-80s/low-90s) and 4-seam grips (sits mid-90s), and has pushed his max fastball velocity to 98 MPH during workouts. In addition, he commands a slider that sits in the low-80 MPH range which breaks opposite and adds depth to his 2-seam/sinker. His changeup also plays well at times and could help round out a 4-pitch repertoire.
What Will the Future Hold?
As he spent 2019 with the Pulaski Yankees in the now eliminated Rookie Appalachian League after coming out of college, there are likely two spots where Hayden Wesneski could end up: with the GCL Yankees with the now sole-Rookie League affiliate or with the Tampa Tarpons of Low-Single A. For me, I would guess that even after a season away from play the Yankees are likely to test Wesneski with the jump to starting at Low-Single A Tampa, even though he has yet to start at the minor league level. Especially due to a short MLB ETA for only next year (2022), it also wouldn’t surprise me to see the Yankees quickly promote him up the ranks to reaching Double-A by seasons end if he’s showing consistency at the Class-A levels.
There is no point to try and move Wesneski from starting even if he showed promise in the back-end of the bullpen. Those tend to be later-developmental moves for prospect arms with potential (see: a man from Panama named Mariano Rivera). However, with the 2022 MLB ETA that would likely be based on an expectation of breaking into the MLB as a late-season call-up in the bullpen as teams tend to do for promising arms. For now, Hayden should only ever be starting.