TAMPA – While the Yankees are figuring out who will fill out their rotation in the absence of James Paxton, who will be absent 3-4 months after back surgery, they will undoubtedly keep an eye on Clarke Schmidt at some point this season.
The South Carolina first round selection for 2017 will be in the major league for the first time when pitcher and catcher report on it next week.
"I just want to have the experience of being with people who have been there and have been successful," said Schmidt this week in the team's minor league complex. "There is not one person I cannot pick up something from and I want to make the best of it."
The Yankees put Schmidt in 16th overall despite the fact that he was dropped from the operation at Tommy John. He was limited to 23 ½ innings in his first professional season in 2018 and had 90 ² innings last year when the Yankees were slowly building it up. He ended the season with three solid starts at Double-A Trenton.
He looked at a forearm lift that Schmidt described as normal when he came back from a UCL operation, adding that he had otherwise felt strong.
Schmidt assumes that he has only a limited selection of innings this season, but does not rule out promotion to the Bronx in 2020.
"I'm not sitting there thinking about what's going to happen," said Schmidt. "I will control what I can control. If I can do my best, I can make a little noise and at least bring my name into this conversation."
That starts next week with the opening of the warehouse.
"I want to leave an impression," said Schmidt. “I want to open a few eyes, impress the right people and make the best of it. It will definitely be a learning experience, but I'm not just going to just have fun. "
The American, from Acworth, Georgia, said he grew up with former Braves right-handed Tim Hudson.
"I've always been a student of the game and because I'm in Atlanta, I like to watch hard-sinker guys like him," said Schmidt of Hudson, who had a 17-year career with Atlanta, Oakland and San Francisco. "I love Pedro Martinez and these pitchers who have good things and can be crossed out in large places."
It remains to be seen how Schmidt takes the depth of rotation of the organization into account.
In Paxton's absence, Jordan Montgomery or Luis Cessa could follow Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ. Jonathan Loaisiga is another option.
Domingo German has to pause until early June to serve the rest of its ban for violating MLB's policy against domestic violence last year.
A little further away is the top prospect Deivi Garcia, who considered going up the Bronx last year, and Mike King.
And then there's Schmidt.
"I've always been a guy who was confident in my game," said Schmidt. "There are times when you go through these lows and it is difficult to remain confident, but I believed in myself."
His main goal is to stay healthy.
"I want to show what I can do and the best way to do that is to get out and throw innings," said Schmidt. "Everything else will take care of itself."