Drafted out of North Carolina in the fourth round of the 2009 draft by the Yankees, Warren made his debut with the Staten Island Yankees and finished the season ranked as the 12th best prospect in the New York-Penn league by Baseball America. Warren started 2010 with High-A Tampa, and ended the season pitching for Double-A Trenton, working his way all the way up to Triple-A in less than two full seasons of professional ball. It’s not hard to see why, either, as Warren dominated the lower rungs of the minors, ending his stint in Trenton with a 3.15 ERA, 2.56 FIP, and a strikeout to walk ratio of 59/27 in 54.1 innings over 10 starts.
However, things slowed down quite a bit for Warren once he reached the Triple-A level, particularly his strikeouts. After posting a strikeout rate of 25.4% in Double-A, that mark dropped all the way to 17.1% in a full season of pitching at Triple-A last season, and has fallen slightly again so far this season to 15.7% (6.17 K/9). After generating some buzz in Spring Training that he might win the long reliever role with the big league team, Warren instead reported to Triple-A and struggled mightily during the early part of the season, though after his last start his ERA is a respectable 3.86, and it’ss backed up by a 4.23 FIP. Warren has seemingly turned a corner in his five starts this month, boasting a 3-2 record with a 2.03 and 18:8 strikeout to walk rand his last start saw him throw five shutout innings in Indianapolis last Sunday.
As for stuff, Warren will primarily utilize a fastball that sits in the low 90′s but touches 94-95. He’ll also utilize a slider, but Baseball America calls his curveball and changeup fringy. The most important variable to Warren’s success is being able to command the heater and avoid making mistakes over the middle of the plate, as well as throwing those secondary for strikes to keep opposing hitters from sitting on the fastball in hitters’ counts. Warren has never profiled as more than a back of the rotation starter, so expecting brilliance is probably overdoing it. This a classic case of a young guy being given a chance in a spot start, and all he’ll need to do is be effective for 5-6 innings, keep his team in the game, and hope to get some help from the Yankees’ offense. Anything more than that is icing on the cake.