The Yankees will purchase the contract of left-handed pitching prospect Justus Sheffield on Tuesday, as manager Aaron Boone told reporters including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch on Sunday:
Yankees calling up No. 1 prospect Justus Sheffield: https://t.co/iUddlZORY7— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 16, 2018
Sheffield was widely expected to receive a September call-up, but with the Yankees’ pitching staff in solid shape and their Triple-A club, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, advancing to the International League Governors’ Cup Finals, he was kept in the minors for the duration of the team’s playoff run. Though he’s eventually expected to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, Sheffield will pitch in relief for the Yankees down the stretch and has been preparing for that role with the RailRiders since late August.
Sheffield started the year with Double-A Trenton, posting a 2.25 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP over five starts before being promoted to Triple-A in early May. He thrived with the RailRiders, posting a 2.77 ERA and a 1.21 with a strikeout per inning over 15 starts. After being moved to the bullpen, he had a 1.35 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in 13.1 innings spanning five relief appearances, striking out 10 and walking one over that stretch. He did get roughed up a bit during the Triple-A playoffs, however, allowing six runs (two earned) in five innings as opponents hit .375 against him.
The 22-year-old Sheffield, selected by the Indians in the first round of the 2014 draft, was acquired by the Yankees along with three other prospects in the 2016 trade that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland. He’s rated as the Yankees’ top prospect, the No. 3 left-handed pitching prospect across baseball, and the No. 27 prospect overall by MLB Pipeline.
Sheffield will have to be added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster, which is currently full. They could move outfielder Clint Frazier, who has been on the seven-day concussion DL since July and experienced a setback while trying to rehab with High-A Tampa, to the 60-day DL. Since he’s already been on the DL for over 60 days anyway, that move wouldn’t have any consequences other than opening up a roster spot, though Frazier is unlikely to contribute for the rest of this year regardless with Aaron Judge seemingly on track to be a full-go for the playoffs and Andrew McCutchen now on the roster as an additional outfield option. The Yankees were going to have to add Sheffield to the 40-man at some point soon anyway; he would have been eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if New York didn’t add him to the roster this offseason.