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Yankees’ pitching program paid dividends again in Juan Soto deal

Since the 2022 trade deadline, the Yankees have lost 20 pitchers to trades or the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

To get Andrew Benintendi, they needed Chandler Champlain (1), TJ Sikkema (2) and Beck Way (3).

Ken Woldychuk (4), JP Sears (5) and Luis Medina (6) contributed to the return of Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino.

Hayden Wesneski, 7, replaced Scott Efros.

Wilking Rodriguez, 8, went undrafted in the 2022 Rule 5 Draft.

Diego Hernandez, 9, took Greg Allen to the Bronx.

Juan Carrera (10) returns Keiynan Middleton.

Adding Alex Verdugo meant giving up Greg Weissert (11), Richard Fitts (12) and Nicholas Giudice (13).

Michael King (14), Drew Thorpe (15), Randy Vasquez (16) and Johnny Brito (17) made up the bulk of Juan Soto's package.

Michael King was traded to the Padres for Juan Soto. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

Mitch Spence (18), Matt Sauer (19) and Coleman Crowe (20) were selected in this week's Rule 5 Draft.

Perhaps the organization's greatest strength has proven to be its ability to continually produce attractive pitching candidates that the club can help develop into major leaguers, primarily through trades.

“It's definitely bittersweet,” said Yankees senior director of pitching Sam Briend, noting that Spence (drafted by the Athletics) in particular inspired both pride and loss. “He's done everything we asked him to do. He worked hard and finally got the opportunity… [prospects] It feels like family at some point. I can't help but look forward to seeing them take shots.

Johnny Brito's tenure with the Yankees ended Wednesday night when his contract with the Padres was terminated. charles wenzelberg

“And we know the next wave is on the way.”

The next wave continues to grow in the Yankees' system, which leverages the most reliable pipeline for immediate major league help.

Briend's team excels at maximizing a pitcher's potential in a variety of ways. This means helping players develop new pitches, unlocking their potential with high-end arms, and increasing pitch velocity for the majority of pitchers.

Briend joined the Yankees in June 2019 after leaving Driveline Baseball, a data-driven player development center.

Over the four-plus years since then, he's helped create something that resembles a factory in appearance, a term he disputes.

What you need to know about the Yankees' Juan Soto trade

The Yankees made a blockbuster trade Wednesday night, acquiring superstar Juan Soto from the Padres and acquiring a much-needed left-handed stud.

Soto completes a revamp of the outfield after the Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo from the Red Sox, with captain Aaron Judge moving to center field.



Soto, 25, won the World Series with the Nationals in 2019 and is a three-time All-Star. He played in all 162 games for the Padres last season, hitting .275/.410/.519 with 35 home runs, 109 RBIs, and a league-leading 132 walks.

While Soto provides some much-needed spark to the Yankees' batting lineup, the point is that he will be a free agent after the 2024 season and is a client of Scott Boras, who generally wants his players to become free agents. And there are risks.

“A better word would be 'school,'” Briend said by phone Friday. “We jokingly call it 'Yankee University.' The point is to let them learn.

“We have the ability to help players learn who they are, what they do, how they move, how they need to move. It's just learning. That’s the thing.”

“Factory” refers to the more rigid and uniform nature of manufacturing.

Instead, Briend takes pride in his player development department's ability to take advantage of all the attractive traits a pitcher already has.

Randy Vazquez started to break out with the Yankees as his pitch speed increased. Corey Shipkin of the New York Post

“Thorpe will be disappointed to see him go, but Soto is a generational talent,” Briend said. He was a second-round pick and his biggest weapon was his changeup.

Several Yankees prospects (including mid-draft picks Wesneski, Wardychuk, and Sears) strengthened their arsenal by hiring sweepers.

Vazquez (signed for $10,000 from the Dominican Republic) broke out when his velocity jumped.

Fitz's main pitch is a four-seamer with a good ride.

Many of the Yankees' prospects add cutters when they enter the system.

While increased speed is the system's most notable feature, it's not where Briend believes the organization is strongest.

“Getting the most out of the shape of the pitch. That might be our biggest dividing line and doing what's best for the person,” Briend said from his home in Tampa. “Instead of saying, “Okay, we're a four-seam fastball group — which you often see –'' or “The Mariners are a two-seam group.'' Everybody falls into these buckets. is.

“But it's a question of, 'How does it work?' How does it come out of your hand? Start by shaping everything based on what you naturally do well. ”

Briend credited the amateur scouting department for prospecting, while Cashman said the “most important” element in the pipeline was the fact that the departments worked together.

“Amateur scouting and development are connected so everyone is aligned,” Cashman said Thursday. “Knowing what you can develop, what you can strengthen, what you can improve, and knowing what you can distance yourself from.”

When Cashman was in the midst of trade talks with Soto, Briend was one of the brain trust members consulted.

“Honestly, this is probably cash's superpower,” Briend says. “You'll have all the information from all the sources so you can make the best decisions.”

The Yankees were happy with the high prospect cost of trading for Soto, in part because pitching prospects were generally shown to be replaceable.

Who will grow the next crop?

Current top pitching prospect Chase Hampton is “outstanding,” Briend said.

Will Warren, who finished the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will likely be one of the first players the Yankees try.

Lower down the system, Briend took aim at left-hander Kyle Carr, a third-round pick who has yet to make his pro debut, and several power arms who have pitched in the Florida Complex League this season: 20-year-old right-hander Carlos Lagrange and 19-year-old left-hander Henry Laraine.

“They're both 6 to 8 years old, big and young,” Briend said. “Lagrange could have sat down.” [97 mph], touch 100. Laraine is approximately 94 years old. … They’re young, really talented arms, and I think people are going to be excited. Perhaps they are not noticed. ”

The Yankees, who have exhausted their physical strength once again, will need to attract more attention.

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