Dillon Tate was the fourth overall pick in the 2015 Draft, the Texas Rangers making him first pitcher off the board after a trio of talented shortstops (Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers). A little more than a year later, he was in the Yankees system, the centerpiece in the trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Rangers. Now, he’s looking to follow up a bounceback 2017 with an even better 2018.
Weight: 195 pounds
Acquired: Selected by the Rangers with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 Draft out of UC-Santa Barbara. He was traded to the Yankees (along with Nick Green and Erik Swanson) on Aug. 1, 2016 in the deal that sent Carlos Beltran to Texas.
In his first full year with the Yankees, Tate rebounded from a difficult 2016 (4.70 ERA in 82.1 innings). Tate got a late start to the season because of an injury, but then aced High-A Tampa (6-0, 2.62 ERA) and finished with a strong showing at Double-A (3.24 ERA in 25 innings). Tate appears to be back on the track that helped him be picked so high in the draft. Now, he’ll have to take the next step.
This is something a little bit different than what’s been done with this list. Below, Donnie Collins and I discuss why Tate lands at No. 13, what we like about him and what might need some work.
CF: Dillon Tate is up next, and I’m not sure there’s another prospect on this list that I’m more intrigued by. Fourth overall pick, Rangers might have set him back with some mechanical things, but still … fourth overall pick.
DC: And the first pitcher off the board in 2015 if I recall correctly. Out of my my favorite place to visit, UC-Santa Barbara. He was a really hard thrower who needed to improve his command then. That’s what he is again now, and that might be disconcerting almost three years late. But it’s worlds better than where he was when the Rangers traded him.
CF: He’s got a high leg kick, which I feel like you don’t see too much of in the Yankees system anymore. I’m guessing that led to some of the mechanical issues, but I’m also a big believer in people doing what works for them. I also like the Yankees taking a chance on a guy with big stuff, whose strikeout numbers don’t match the stuff (only 6.8 K/9 last year). Maybe I’m in the minority, but I really liked the work they did with Nathan Eovaldi.
DC: I think if you watch some of the video of him from UCSB to this year, the front side comes through a lot stronger now than it used to. I think the Yankees probably helped make the adjustment there, and maybe a fresh set of eyes sees something the old ones didn’t. The leg kick is the same, basically. So I think the question is how that will play with runners on base. But yeah, he was a great project for the Yankees to get, for a guy everyone knew they had to trade. And they have had success getting the most out of that kind of pitcher who just hasn’t worked in other organizations. Eovaldi is a great example.
CF: Yeah, I’ve heard some people say he’s headed for the bullpen, but I’d be a little worried about the leg kick with guys on base, too. I’m keeping him as a starter until all else fails.
DC: Again, like Loaisiga, he has starter stuff. There has to be a compelling reason to move a guy with that kind of stuff to the pen, even in this day and age. That third pitch is going to keep him in the rotation. Or, at least it should. And at his size, it’s easy to see him being able to maintain the kind of fastball that would make him a good starter. He was at 95-96 in September
CF: I also think he’s in the unique position where, if he’s able to put it together, there’s no reason he can’t rocket through the system. He’s already got that college experience.
DC: I would almost bet that if he starts strong this season, he’ll be with the RailRiders well before mid season. The question with him before the Yanks got him was “What happened to his stuff?” Now it’s not about the stuff. It’s about putting it all together. If he can do it, there’s no sense delaying him. He’s not exactly the youngest prospect on this list.
Associated Press photo