The Yankees are about to get their first real look at their next wave of pitching prospects.
In need of a spot starter with Domingo German still serving his 10-game suspension for a failed foreign-substance check, the Yankees will call on 24-year-old right-hander Randy Vasquez on Friday to make his MLB debut against the Padres, either as a starter or bulk reliever behind an opener.
“Very surprised,” Vasquez said through an interpreter Thursday after arriving in the Yankees’ clubhouse. “You’re always waiting for that call. It’s a call [I’ve] been waiting [my] whole life for. … Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to pitch in the big leagues. So, very exciting that it’s going to be [Friday].”
Manager Aaron Boone indicated that Vasquez would be part of the Yankees’ pitching plans Friday “in some way, shape or form” — so not necessarily as a traditional starter. But having not pitched since May 17 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Vasquez can give them length.
Because of German’s suspension, the Yankees were going to need an extra starter (or a bullpen game) for either Friday or Saturday.
They decided to give Luis Severino, who will now pitch on Saturday, an extra day of rest heading into his second start of the season and use Vasquez on Friday.
Vasquez, the Yankees’ No. 9 prospect and third-ranked pitching prospect, according to Baseball America, made the most sense to receive a spot start because he is already on the 40-man roster.
He had also been pitching better of late after a rough start to the season in his first taste of Triple-A.
“Good arm, good stuff,” Boone said. “He’s been pitching pretty well. He’s had some games where he walked some guys, but is getting swing-and-miss too. He’s the next guy up right now with an opportunity.”
Across his last five starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Vasquez had a 2.67 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 12 walks in 27 innings.
It was an improvement over his first four starts, when he had an 8.62 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 11 walks in 15 ²/₃ innings.
Vasquez attributed the difference to working on his “mental strength” and figuring out how to execute a game plan to attack hitters, many of whom had major league experience.
“Overall, I want to say it’s been a really good season so far,” Vasquez said. “Pitching in Triple-A, I’ve had the opportunity to face many different hitters with lots of big-league experience. Being able to face those guys and learn from those experiences.”
The young righty, who described himself as a pitcher with “a lot of tenacity,” will need it on Friday when facing a Padres lineup that has underperformed but still features the likes of Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.
“It’s gonna be exciting,” said Vasquez, a native of the Dominican Republic like Soto and Tatis. “You understand what kind of lineup they have, a really, really good lineup. It’s going to be fun facing them, but at the same time, I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do for my preparation to face those guys. So that’s what I’m going to focus on.”
Though he is not yet a finished product, Vasquez will also take with him the confidence that he gained from pitching in major league camp this spring, which included throwing four scoreless innings against a close-to-regular Phillies lineup in his final start.
“I was able to navigate through that lineup,” Vasquez said. “After that game, I felt a boost of confidence, understanding that I had a chance to face those guys and I was able to compete against them.”