A pitcher who can reach triple-digits on his fastball at age-16 is rare to find, however where there is huge promise there is usually big problems to work around. While Luis Medina may have the best pure stuff in the Yankees farm system, he has yet to see it translate on the field. Everything about his game looks to be great, except his mental game to overcome adversity. Though, after a very good 2020- which included a pitcher of the year award in the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues- Medina is having a great opening to his season in 2021.
LUIS MEDINA, RHP (#7):
Age/Date of Birth: 22 Years Old (05/03/1999)
Most Recent Team(s) (Level and Year): Hudson Valley Renegades (Class-A+, 2021), Tampa Tarpons (Class-A+, 2019) Charleston RiveDogs (Class-A, 2019)
Most Recent Yearly Statistics (2019): 1-8 Record, 5.47 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 103.2 Innings, 127 Strikeouts, 70 Walks, (22 Games, 22 Games Started)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/175 Pounds
Acquired: Signed by the Yankees as part of the 2015/2016 International Free Agent Class in early July 2015.
MLB ETA: 2022
LUIS MEDINA SCOUTING GRADES (20-80 SCALE):
What to Know:
Coming out of the Dominican Republic, the then 16-year-old Luis Medina had started to reach 100 MPH+ on his pitches, coming just a month before he signed on with the New York Yankees organization. Soon the Yankees would ink him with a $280,000 signing bonus in early July of 2015. Like most IFA’s, it would take until the next season for Medina to make his professional debut.
In 2016, for reasons unknown, Luis Medina only pitch 4.2 innings, coming over just 3 appearances with the Yankees 1 (Dominican Summer League, Foreign Rookie). With that, his season was over with his 1.93 ERA, and oddly enough not (seemingly) held up by visa issues keeping him from moving up a level as…
In 2017 Medina pitched again with the Yankees DSL affiliate (now just the Yankees), this time pitching in 4 games (3 starts) before moving up to the Pulaski Yankees (Appalachian League, Rookie) for another 6 games (6 starts) through the end of the season. However, this season wasn’t great on the field as it would bring a 5.74 ERA in the Dominican and a 5.09 ERA in Pulaski.
In 2018 Medina would repeat a whole season with Pulaski, pitching in 12 games (starting all 12) and pitching 36 innings…though again to a very high ERA now at 6.25.
Much like our other recent pitching prospects we’ve seen, it would take Medina 3+ years to escape rookie ball, finally doing so in 2019 as he spent a large majority of the season with the Charleston RiverDogs (Class-A, South Atlantic League). Medina would pitch and start all 20 games he had at the level, though again he would pitch to a high ERA ending the season at 6.00. Though, the Yankees would promote him to the Tampa Tarpons (Class-A+, Florida State League) for his final two games of the season where he would pitch to a 0.84 ERA over 10.2 innings. This season was Medina’s first (and only) above 100 innings.
In 2020, Medina was added to the alternate site, though he wouldn’t make any appearances with the MLB club. Over the winter, however, Medina would go and pitch in for Puerto Rico in the Caribbean League (2 starts, 4.15 ERA) as well as the Indios del Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican Winter League (4 starts, 0.54). With those performances, he earned pitcher of the year honors in the winter league.
As of now in 2021, Medina has been assigned to the Hudson Valley Renegades (Class-A+, High-A East) where he has started 2 games, pitched 9 innings, and as yet to allow a run.
Luis Medina control three above-average pitches, of which the most notable and prominent is his high-90 MPH fastball (96-99) that he has had been able to push up to 102 MPH and reached triple-digits even before signing to play professionally. He also has a low-80’s curveball that has great vertical movement and is a great duo pitch given the movement and velocity change. Finally, a low-90s changeup plays more like a splitter and also has batters stuck between sitting too early or too late.
Though all his pitches grade as above average, the biggest problem in Medina’s career has always been his control. Before the 2021 season he had pitched 183 total professional innings since 2016 while walking 144. The most baffling thing of this is that Medina is an athletic pitcher with no big flaws in his mechanics, which leads scouts to thinking its a mental block. Given the recent success he’s had, as well as the years of experience and maturity he’s grown into, many believe Medina could still reach his potential as a frontline starter, though the on-field product does need to vastly improve considering some think he has little shot to even make the MLB given the glaring inability to throw strikes at times.
What Will the Future Hold?
.Luis Medina may have the highest upside in the system, though also be on the fastest track to not make the majors either. The on-field product has suffered for many years now, though the recent successes in the alternate site and winter leagues could provide a good mental framework for him to build from. Already showing promise again at Hudson Valley (Class-A+), with other promising pitching prospects hoping to make it to his level at mid-season, Medina could see his way to Somerset (Class Double-A) if he continues to play well. If so, the Yankees hold the keys to a very promising arm.
Luis Medina is likely the most volatile prospect the Yankees have in their system. While his stuff and name could one day be put up with Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino in the rotation, there is also a shot that his name falls from grace to be mistaken with the Luis Medina who played for the Cleveland Indians from 1988-1991…as an infielder/outfielder. I’m personally a fan of what Medina has to offer, though I would implore the Yankees to play it safe with him until he has proven he can handle adversity in the lower minors. If so, Medina may be another under-the-radar IFA pitcher that continues to show the Yankees excellence in finding young talent from abroad. Could he make the MLB in 2022? There’s a shot at the end of the season, though I’m going to play it safe and say if it happens it’s as a reliever.