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After Big Climb To Majors, Jonathan Holder Hopes To Stay In 2017

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Jonathan Holder New York Yankees Jonathan Holder (Photo by Danny Parker)[/caption]

TAMPAJonathan Holder pitched at four levels of the system in 2016—which is something, barring an injury that requires a rehab assignment—that likely won’t be repeated in 2017.

"I learned there is a difference in every single level and the maturity of the guys,’’ the 23-year-old righthander from Gulfport, Miss., said. "The highest level by far has the best talent.’’

Holder, a sixth-round pick in 2014 out of Mississippi State, opened the 2016 season at high Class A Tampa, moved to Double-A Trenton after two games, advanced to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in July and arrived in the big leagues in late August.

At three minor league levels the 6-foot-2, 235-pounder went 5-1, 1.65 and posted 16 saves in 42 relief outings. In 65.1 innings Holder struck out 101 and walked just seven. In eight games for the Yankees, Holder had a 5.40 ERA, fanned five in 8.1 innings and walked four.

"I wasn’t expecting anything and I try not to expect anything,’’ Holder said about his big league promotion. "Just work day to day and get better.’’

Since Holder reached the big leagues, he was in the mix for a spot in the Yankees’ bullpen when camp opened. However, it was tough to handicap his chances because all five candidates for the final two spots in the rotation had relief experience.

That group consisted of Adam Warren, Luis Severino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell. Of that group Warren had the strongest chance of sticking in the big leagues, either as a starter or reliever.

Having worked a dozen games at Triple-A last year might lead the Yankees to believe Holder could use more minor league time but his strikeouts-to-innings pitched and stunning control might be enough to land him a big league job.

"His fastball has run to it and he has a combination of pitches,’’ big league pitching coach Larry Rothschild said.

Holder has a four-seam fastball at 94 mph, a sinker that gets to 93, a cutter, curveball and changeup.

"It all depends on the hitters,’’ Holder said of how he gets the strikeouts. "Fastball and the cutter a lot.’’

YANKEE DOODLES

• With Didi Gregorius playing for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, prospects Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo and Tyler Wade were slated to get playing time at short. Mateo and Wade will play second, too, and Wade will get time in the outfield. After being introduced to center field in the Instructional League the Yankees aren’t going to use Mateo there this spring.

Tyler Austin was a casualty before the official opening of camp when he fouled a ball off the left foot and broke the navicular bone a week before position players reported. He was slated to miss six weeks which made it likely the first baseman/outfielder will start the season on the disabled list.

Holder-Hot-Sheet

Prospect Hot Sheet (Sept. 2): Jonathan Holder Takes Over

Yankees relief prospect Jonathan Holder struck out 12 of 13 batters faced in one appearance.

— George King covers the Yankees for the New York Post

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