- Full name Ryan Christian Yarbrough
- Born 12/31/1991 in Austin, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: R / Throws: L
- School Old Dominion
- Debut 03/31/2018
Drafted in the 4th round (111th overall) by the Seattle Mariners in 2014 (signed for $40,000).
View Draft ReportYarbrough spent two years at a Florida junior college before transferring to Old Dominion last year. The Brewers selected him in the 20th round, and he is likely go higher than that this season as a senior sign who has improved his stuff and performance. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Yarbrough is a big-bodied, strike-throwing lefthander who pitched at 86-89 mph last year but has been 87-91, touching 92 this spring with a fairly easy delivery. His fastball plays up with sink and armside run from a low three-quarters arm slot that produces groundballs. His sweepy breaking ball is below-average to fringe-average, and his feel for it comes and goes. A changeup with average potential is his best secondary pitch. He projects to have at least average control.
Organization Prospect Rankings
A Mariners senior sign, Yarbrough was sent to the Rays in the Drew Smyly trade. An intelligent pitcher who stays ahead in the count by commanding the strike zone, Yarbrough led the International League in strikeouts. He averaged 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings and walked 2.17 batters per nine, the fifth-best mark on the circuit. Yarbrough uses his 6-foot-5 frame to his advantage by throwing on a downhill plane to generate ground balls with his sinking 87-91 mph fastball. His plus changeup has outstanding deception. He continues to improve the consistency and bite of his slider while staying low in the zone. Yarbrough is tough on lefthanded hitters, limiting them to a .217/.278/.343 slash line. Yabrough's knocking on the door of the big leagues, where he could contribute as a swingman or situational reliever in 2018.
The Mariners selected Yarbrough as a senior sign in 2014 and inked him for a below-slot $40,000, and the polished lefty has proven a good value. He keeps damage to a minimum with an array of ground-ball-oriented pitches. Yarbrough's 90-93 mph fastball has downward angle out of his 6-foot-5 frame and plays like a sinker, and he is continually developing feel for a changeup that flashes plus. His slider upgraded to average and he keeps it down and mixes it well off his other two pitches. His ability to keep pitches down in the zone helped him flourish in the hitter-friendly California League in 2015 and successfully make the jump to Double-A in 2016, where he earned Southern League pitcher-of-the-year honors after leading the circuit in wins (12) and ranking second in both ERA (3.16) and WHIP (1.11). He missed the final two weeks of 2016 while on the disabled list with a strained groin. Yarbrough is especially tough on lefthanders, who struggled to a .183/.250/.275 line against him in 2016. He will begin 2017 at Triple-A Tacoma and could reach the majors quickly as a reliever with his sinker-changeup combination and strong splits against lefties. If he continues to develop his slider, he becomes a back-of-the-rotation option.
The Mariners believe they got a steal in the 2014 draft with Yarbrough, a senior who signed for a well below-slot $40,000 bonus out of Old Dominion. The tall lefty breezed through the Northwest League and earned an assignment to the California League in 2015. He held his own on the hitter-friendly circuit, including a 1.23 ERA in April that included a 16-inning scoreless streak, but sustained a groin injury in late May that sidelined him for a month and led to another month of rehab in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He returned to the Cal League in mid-August and closed out the season by yielding just four earned runs and striking out 28 over his final 22 innings. There is concern that Yarbrough needs to focus more on staying in shape, developing a better routine and trusting his stuff more in games. He works off an 89-91 mph fastball that touches 93 and features natural sink out of a good arm angle. He induces plenty of groundballs with the fastball, a pitch that plays up as he gets better feel for a plus changeup. He's still developing feel for a slurvy slider. Yarbrough has potential to be a mid-rotation starter if everything comes together and will get a shot at making his Double-A debut in 2016.
With the Mariners planning to go well above slot to sign second-rounder Gareth Morgan, the scouting staff knew to be on the lookout for inexpensive senior signs who could fit as top 10-rounds picks. Scout Devitt Moore hit the jackpot, for he signed fourth-rounder Yarbrough for just $40,000, then watched him make a loud debut at short-season Everett, showing better stuff than he had displayed in college. As dominant as Yarbrough's performance was in the short-season Northwest League, his stuff was equally impressive. He sat at 88-91 mph at Old Dominion, succeeding by mixing pitches and hitting spots, but with the Mariners he picked up a tick or two, sitting at 90-93 mph in shorter, three-inning stints and touching 95. Yarbrough gets excellent angle and sink on his fastball and pairs it with a changeup that is above-average at its best. His slurvy curveball has a chance to be a fringe-average pitch. All three play up because of his above-average control. Thanks to his low arm slot and deceptive delivery, Yarbrough should be at least a useful lefty reliever. But if he can maintain his newfound velocity over longer stretches in 2015, he could climb the ladder quickly as a starter.
Yarbrough spent two years at a Florida junior college before transferring to Old Dominion last year. The Brewers selected him in the 20th round, and he is likely go higher than that this season as a senior sign who has improved his stuff and performance. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Yarbrough is a big-bodied, strike-throwing lefthander who pitched at 86-89 mph last year but has been 87-91, touching 92 this spring with a fairly easy delivery. His fastball plays up with sink and armside run from a low three-quarters arm slot that produces groundballs. His sweepy breaking ball is below-average to fringe-average, and his feel for it comes and goes. A changeup with average potential is his best secondary pitch. He projects to have at least average control.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Mariners sent Yarbrough, a senior sign out of Old Dominion in 2014, straight to the Cal League for his first full year. While a groin injury cost him a chunk of time in the middle of the season, he did pitch well down the stretch, logging a 3.32 ERA and a 26-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in August. Yarbrough throws with a crossfire motion reminiscent of Madison Bumgarner, and he pounds both sides of the plate with running and sinking fastballs at 88-91 mph. His fastball, which tops out near 92 mph, ties up righthanders when he comes inside. Yarbrough's frame is tall and skinny--"a string bean," as one observer put it--so he has room to fill out and perhaps add a couple ticks to the fastball. Yarbrough's changeup is his best secondary pitch, a potentially plus offering thanks to its late fading action and his good arm action. He also throws a fringe-average slurvy curveball. He could develop into a control-oriented back-of-the-rotation starter with improved command.
Yarbrough was a surprise high draft pick as a senior who signed for $40,000, more than $430,000 below the assigned bonus pool slot in the fourth round. He has pedigree, having pitched on loaded Santa Fe (Fla.) JC teams that included current prospects such as Alec Asher (Rangers), Chris Lee (Astros) and Mallex Smith (Padres), then was a weekend starter for two seasons at Old Dominion, turning down the Brewers as a 20th-round pick in 2013. Yarbrough made himself a prospect with a dominating debut. He had fine control as an amateur (2.13 walks per nine innings in two seasons at ODU) and had similar control in his debut, with a 24-inning walkless streak. His fastball velocity improved in the spring and this summer, sitting 90-94, touching 95 with natural deception and angle that helps it jump on hitters. His slurvy breaking ball comes and goes, but he was around the strike zone with it, and his changeup has at least average potential, flashing above-average as he used it more in games this summer than he did in college. Of Yarbrough, Vancouver hitting coach Dave Pano said: "He's one of the best guys we saw all year."