Home News Towering two-pitch prospect could help Yankees this season

Towering two-pitch prospect could help Yankees this season

Jack Neely didn’t bother watching the 2021 MLB Draft.

With a 7.76 ERA over 20 games for Power 5 programs Texas and Ohio State, he didn’t exactly expect to hear his name called. Rather than plopping himself in front of a TV, Neely spent the 11th round working out.

That’s when the Yankees scooped the righty up.

“I was surprised,” Neely, who also played JUCO ball for Iowa Western and San Jacinto, told the Daily News. “But they saw something and they’ve really helped me get where I’m at now.”

The where which Neely speaks of is Double-A Somerset. There, the mustachioed 24-year-old had a 2.15 ERA over 20 games and 29.1 innings as of Tuesday morning.

Better yet, Neely struck out 48 of the first 121 batters he faced. That 39.7 K% ranked third among all Eastern League pitchers with at least 20 innings logged this season.

“He’s been lights out,” Patriots pitching coach Brett DeGagne said of the Yankees’ 24th-best prospect.

Neely has a two-pitch arsenal to thank for that.

With a 6-foot-8, 245-pound frame, Neely fires a high-90s fastball with ease. He also has a biting slider — and zero plans to add to that repertoire.

“I’m fortunate enough to have the two that work really well,” Neely said, echoing sentiments shared by DeGagne. “We’re just gonna keep rolling with it.”

Neely has been so dominant that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his two-pitch mix in the majors this season.

While he’s only at Double-A, Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake said that Neely is already “on the radar.”

“I wouldn’t say he’s pressing on us, but we’re all aware of what he’s doing,” Blake told The News. “He’s got arm talent to be in the major leagues.”

When asked if Neely could help the Yankees’ bullpen, which has lacked strikeout stuff, as soon as this season, Blake added, “I think so.”

“Obviously, there’s some names in the Triple-A group that might be ahead of him,” Blake continued, “but at the same time, [we’re] considering all options when looking at who the best guys are to help us.”

Neely said he’s not thinking about his future or his MLB ETA just yet. Instead, he’s trying to stay present in his fourth minor league season.

However, Neely strongly believes that his stuff is ready for The Show.

“I’m confident that I can get major league hitters out,” he said.

DeGagne agreed.

“I think it does,” the coach said of Neely’s pitches looking major league ready. “It’s a big-time fastball and a slider that has played all through the minor leagues.”

However, DeGagne noted that Neely is not a finished product, and he described the prospect as “extremely hungry to get better.”

That mentality dates back to Neely’s nomadic college career, which saw him struggle as a two-pitch starter before taking on relief work as a junior. Following the draft, the Yankees kept him in the pen, cleaned up his mechanics, and made some tweaks to his signature offerings.

Since then, Neely has a 2.61 ERA as a pro.

Neely prefers being in the bullpen, as it gives him the chance to impact multiple games a week.

“I’m just really comfortable going out there in those high-pressure situations,” he said. “I want the ball.

“I’m just kind of wired that way.”

Neely feels that his height makes him an intimidating figure whenever he emerges from the bullpen. He was always tallest guy on his teams growing up, but he has some competition with Somerset, where Spencer Jones, Danny Watson, Tanner Myatt, Zach Messinger, Bailey Dees and Ryan Anderson are all 6-foot-6 or taller.

Neely said that he idolized a pair of towering ex-Yankees relievers as a kid. While the San Antonio, Texas native didn’t root for the Bombers, he gravitated toward the 6-foot-8 Dellin Betances and the 6-foot-7 Andrew Miller.

“When they were at the peak, it was unbelievable watching them,” Neely recalled.

The hope is that Neely can one day carve up batters in the Bronx the way those two did. Whether that happens this year or not remains to be seen, but the youngster certainly has the confidence required for a high-leverage job.

“I’m gonna come right at you,” Neely said of himself on the mound. “I’ve got two pitches, and whatcha see is whatcha get.

“I’m coming for you.”


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