During his freshman and sophomore years, Warren mainly pitched out of the bullpen, however, he became a key starter for them in his junior and senior years. The Tar Heels made the College World Series each year, no doubt showing he knows what it’s like to play for a team expected to win.
Warren wasn’t just a baseball player at UNC as he was continually recognized on the All-ACC Academic Team and the ACC Academic Honor Roll. He has put his name firmly in the Tar Heel record books as he is tied for the best winning percentage over his career (32-4, .889). In his senior season, Warren went 10-2 with a 3.31 ERA. He struck out 103 batters, issuing just 39 walks and holding hitters to a .233 average. The Tar Heel also picked up some experience in the Cape Cod League during a couple of his summers in college, playing for the Brewster Whitecaps and the Chatham A’s.
After signing with the Yankees in 2009, Warren headed for Staten Island. He made twelve starts, going 4-2 with a 1.43 ERA. Warren gave up one homer and issued just ten walks while picking up 50 Ks over 56.2 innings of work. He split his first full season of professional ball between Tampa and Trenton. In fifteen starts in Tampa, Warren went 7-5 with a 2.22 ERA. He had a K/9 of 7.4 and a K/BB of 3.94 before spending his last ten starts of the 2010 season in Trenton. Warren adjusted well to AA ball, going 4.2 with a 3.15 ERA and a K/9 of 9.8. In fact, he set a Trenton Thunder record on August 17, 2010, when Warren struck out 15 batters, garnering Eastern League pitcher of the week honors.
This season, Warren has started in Scranton, continuing his climb towards the majors. In his nine starts, he is 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA. His walks are up (BB/9 is 4.2, when it hadn’t broken 2.7 before) and his K/BB is just 1.24. Warren has pitched eight innings of baseball twice this season, holding Indianapolis to just a .115 average a couple days ago. Warren may have started his stint in AAA struggling more than we have seen yet, but this is to be expected once a pitcher reaches this level. Hopefully he continues to adjust as the season wears on.
His managers in Trenton and Tampa have a lot of good things to say about Warren. They particularly seem to like his “demeanor” which Tony Franklin has described as “business-like” and Torre Tyson described as “Roger Clemens-like.” Warren’s big size and strength also impresses.
Warren is a fastball pitcher, who needs to continue to improve his breaking ball pitches if he is going to be a successful major league starter. He throws all his pitches for strikes, but his fastball, which is consistently in the mid-90s is his strength. He mixes a powerful four-seamer with a sinking two-seam fastball and commands both incredibly well, while keeping the ball down in the zone.
Warren’s secondary pitches are big league pitches, but aren’t plus pitches yet. He has discovered a changeup since joining professional baseball, and it has become one of his favorite pitches to throw. He is confident in his changeup and is starting to throw it a lot more often, having rarely used it in college. Warren’s curveball is where scouts find concern, but there is a lot of potential for him to turn that into a strength down the road.
Warren is an aggressive pitcher who goes after batters with his fastballs, but knows how to effectively mix his pitches. When he misses, he tends to miss down in the zone leading to him giving up just eleven homeruns in 245 innings throughout his time in the minors.
Scouts project Warren as a middle of the rotation starter who can eat up innings. His competitive nature and some continued improvement with his breaking ball pitches could bump him up to a front of the rotation guy, but for now he needs to keep working in Scranton. While it is not unreasonable to see Warren getting a shot in the Bronx at some point this season, particularly given the questionable nature of the Yankees pitching staff these days, he will likely spend the season in AAA with a shot at the majors next season.