Marlins' Yamamoto leads week's top pitchers

No. 20 Miami prospect set Jupiter record with 13-strikeout start

Jordan Yamamoto has averaged 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings through five starts with Jupiter. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

By Sam Dykstra / | June 25, 2018 3:00 PM

It took some time for Jordan Yamamoto to properly introduce himself as a Miami Marlins prospect. Now that he has, he's got some hardware to do the talking for him.

The Marlins' No. 20 prospect highlights the latest group of Minor League Pitchers of the Week as the Florida State League honoree after he struck out a career-high 13 and allowed two hits without walking a batter over seven innings last Wednesday for Class A Advanced Jupiter. This is the second time Yamamoto has won a Pitcher of the Week award -- he did so with Class A Advanced Carolina in the Brewers system for Aug. 28-Sept. 4, 2017.

The 22-year-old right-hander's start against Florida last week was easily his best since he was dealt from the Brewers as part of a four-prospect package that netted Milwaukee outfielder Christian Yelich last January. He retired the first 14 batters he faced and, despite the high strikeout count, needed only 89 pitches (64 of which were strikes) to get through his seven frames. The 13 punchouts not only set a career best but broke the record for most K's in a start by a Jupiter pitcher, passing the 11 set by Trevor Richards on June 2, 2017.

View the Pitcher of the Week winners »

"He really had great pace," Hammerheads manager Kevin Randel said Monday. "His tempo was quick all game long, and I think his location of all four pitches was what got him all those strikeouts. He was hitting his spots so well, it was tough for anyone to get comfortable."

Beyond just the eye-popping numbers, Yamamoto's gem was notable for how quickly it came relatively in his Marlins career.

The 2014 12th-rounder was coming off a special 2017 season in which he posted a 2.51 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 111 innings with Carolina in the Brewers system, and that was enough to not only catch the Marlins' eye when it came time to negotiate the Yelich trade (which also included top prospects Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Isan Diaz) but also earn him an invite to Major League Spring Training camp, his first anywhere. However, with the trade happening in late January -- less than a month before pitchers and catchers were to report to the Marlins facility in Jupiter -- there was little time for Yamamoto to convert his offseason preparations from a Milwaukee program to a Miami one.

"I think it was early spring coming into camp, and it was just a transition for him," Randel said. "There was some hearsay about what the Brewers were having him do in terms of arm care and what he'd have to do with us. That all had to do with Major League camp. If he was just coming to Minor League camp, it would have been fine. But Major League camp happens so early. To his credit, he got through it, and he's back and strong now."

Yamamoto did open the season on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement, but after following his new organization's program for recovery and rehab, he finally made his Jupiter debut on May 27. Through five starts, he owns a 1.63 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in his first 27 2/3 innings with the Hammerheads. His 33 strikeouts over that time are most among all Florida State League hurlers. 

The Hawaii native has been limited to 90-95 pitches in each of his starts thus far as the organization has focused more on that than an innings limit. Randel noted that Yamamoto could have gone out for an eighth inning last week, had he not bumped up against his predetermined pitch count. The six-foot hurler may not have electric stuff with his fastball typically sitting in the lower-90s, but he can get plenty of whiffs because of his above-average command and control of his fastball, breaking pitches and changeup. He's yet to walk more than two batters in a start this season, and Wednesday's gem was his first outing with a zero in the BB column.

With his injury behind him and his resume now showing 138 2/3 career innings at Class A Advanced, Yamamoto isn't far from moving up to Double-A Jacksonville, where he'd join Harrison and Diaz to showcase the future of Miami's rebuilding project.

"He's not far away," Randel said. "That last start was very good, and we hope it can be something to get him rolling. ... I don't have anything specific really for him to make that happening. We just need to get him really going. He's had a four-inning start, a five-inning start. If we can see one more outing like we did last week, I think he'll be on his way."

Here are the rest of the Minor League Pitcher of the Week award winners for June 18-24:

League Player Team MLB Stats
International Ryan Borucki Buffalo TOR 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 1 SHO, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Pacific Coast Cy Sneed Fresno HOU 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 1 SHO, 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K
Eastern Ranger Suarez Reading PHI 2-0, 0.64 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 1 CG, 14 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
Texas Ryan Hartman Corpus Christi HOU 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
California Xavier Altamirano Stockton OAK 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 8 K
Carolina Eli Morgan Lynchburg CLE 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
Florida State Jordan Yamamoto Jupiter MIA 1-0, 1.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K
Midwest Patrick Sandoval Quad Cities HOU 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
South Atlantic John Gavin Augusta SF 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
New York-Penn Luis Oviedo Mahoning Valley CLE 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
Northwest Jake Steffens Eugene CHC 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 0 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
Pioneer Spencer Moran Great Falls CWS 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K
Appalachian Noel De Jesus Johnson City STL 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 4 K

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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