Darrel Rasner's broken index finger sends yet another Yankees pitcher to the sidelines for as long as three months, and necessitates that Joe Torre call up yet another young prospect to deal from the mound for the Bronx Bombers. The candidate making his Major League debut pitching at an away game in the high profile Subway Series at Shea will likely be Tyler Clippard, a righthanded 22-year-old. Just nine weeks ago, Clippard acknowledged that as the 7th-best Yankees prospect ranked by Baseball America at the start of 2007, he wasn't too dispirited by the lack of attention he was garnering in comparsion to some of his teammates. What a difference a few months can make!
Clippard pitched double-A ball for the Yankees' Trenton club last season, and while lacking a blistering fastball, his control is reportedly pretty respectable. By mid-March he'd only allowed one hit in four innings of spring training pitching and he's 9-0 in his last twelve Eastern League starts, with a 1.91 ERA, and he pitched a no-hitter.
We found an interview Clippard gave in the off-season in early 2005, when the young pitcher was still 19 years old and playing for the Battle Creek Yankees in the Midwestern League. The team transferred affiliations to the Devil Rays before the season started. Clippard's journey into the minor leagues was hampered when his high school coach kicked him off the team for violating a no-drinking policy and he couldn't pitch his entire senior year. Clippard won't be among strangers tomorrow though; even back in 2005 he was playing with Melky Cabrera and shared a farm system bullpen with Matt DeSalvo. Regardless of who we're rooting for tomorrow, we'll wish the young pitcher luck in his Major League debut against the Mets. The Yankees certainly need as much of it as they can possibly get these days. The third game of the teams' matchups in Queens starts tonight at 8:05 p.m.