After putting everything he had into his junior season at Missouri, T.J. Sikkema saw all the hard work pay off when the Yankees drafted him with the 38th overall pick in the competitive balance round this June.Though there is plenty of gas left in his tank, the left-handed pitcher is
After putting everything he had into his junior season at Missouri, T.J. Sikkema saw all the hard work pay off when the Yankees drafted him with the 38th overall pick in the competitive balance round this June.
Though there is plenty of gas left in his tank, the left-handed pitcher is finding the tolls of a long year coming to a head as he continues his path on pro fields with Class A Short Season Staten Island.
"It's been a whirlwind for sure," Sikkema said. "I feel like I've been working for years to be where I'm at now and it's been really cool. The season with Missouri definitely didn't end how we wanted it to, but I think we had a really good team and did really well, a lot better than a lot people thought we were. Then the Draft was also amazing. Going in the competitive balance round was great. I was very excited to be drafted by the Yankees. Getting to be here every day with pinstripes on is a pretty awesome experience."
After two solid seasons at Missouri, Sikkema put himself on the map with a breakout effort his junior year, going 7-4 with a 1.32 ERA and 101 strikeouts over 88 2/3 innings.
He has not slowed since reaching professional ball, posting a 0.84 ERA in his first four appearances while striking out 13 and allowing just one walk and six hits over 10 2/3 innings for Staten Island.
"I feel like I had a lot going for me coming into the pro ball season. I've learned a lot at college, had a couple of the best pitching coaches anyone can be around," he said, crediting Patrick Hallmark and Fred Corral in those roles. "I just really had a good foundation and it finally all came together my junior year. I've kept an open mind now that I've gotten here in Staten. I've learned a little bit from the guys, a little bit from the coaches and I just try to soak up all the information and use it to my advantage."
Sikkema is unaware of any limitations the organization may have for him the rest of the way, He takes a four-pitch arsenal and just throws "when I'm told."
He refers to his fastball as his go-to pitch, working three separate angles that help him use an effective change off of that. Featuring an out-pitch slider, he rounds things out with a curveball that he says is the "biggest pitch I need to work on," despite the fact that he is comfortable throwing all four of his pitches in any count, depending on the hitter.
Sikkema has firmly shown this year that he has the pitching part of his game down, and he will continue to hone that as he tries to work his way through the Yankees system. For now, he's learning about the smaller things that come with pro ball and trying to adjust to that new part of his life, highly content with being where he is.
"Staten Island is an awesome place," noted the Iowa native. "The guys are really cool. The coaches are great. I couldn't have asked to have been put in a better position and I'm enjoying every day here in New York and having fun doing it.
"I'm learning it's a grind. It's a job and you have to go to the field every day ready to work and ready to get better. That's been the biggest thing so far, getting your body ready to go to the field and do work, throw every day, get your PFPs in, extra work. … You really have to take care of your bodies."
In briefTwo for one:
Two seems to be the magic number for June's top overall pick, Adley Rutschman
. In his second game with Aberdeen, after playing five games with the Gulf Coast Orioles, the catcher managed to throw out the first two runners that attempted to steal on him. The Orioles' top prospect also picked up his first two hits in that game versus Hudson Valley, followed by two more the following night. Three days later, he threw out two Mahoning Valley runners, followed by another two-hit effort two days later.Hard to handle:
In the midst of a 13-game hit steak, Lowell's Gilberto Jimenez
continues to pace the offense of the top team in the league. The Dominican outfielder, ranked as Boston's No. 8 prospect, is hitting a team-best .348 through 36 games, third best in the league. Jimenez has collected hits in 31 games, including 10-of-12 in June, 18-of-21 in July and all three August games thus far. He also leads the Spinners with 21 runs scored and is tied with seven stolen bases.Factoring in:
Batavia closer Evan Brabrand
has made 13 appearances this season and landed in the final score line each time. The league leader in saves has closed the door in 10 of his 12 end-game opportunities, giving him four more than any other pitcher in the league. The right-hander also has a 2-1 record in the three games in which he didn't earn a save. Miami's ninth-round pick out of Liberty this June, he has an overall line on the season that includes 17 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA over 12 1/3 innings.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com.