The numbers popped out of the box score—14 strikeouts in 5.1 inning—even if the name did not.
They belonged to 25-year-old righthander Glenn Otto, a 2017 fifth-round pick out of Rice.
Yankees minor league pitching director Sam Briend wasn’t exactly shocked at how impressive Otto was on May 20.
“It’s one thing to be told you’re good,” Briend said. “It’s another thing to believe you’re good and to really have confidence in attacking the zone with your best stuff. That’s where Otto’s made a ton of strides.”
Otto has also made substantive strides with his delivery and pitch mix—changes that could get him to the Bronx sooner than later.
Through his first three starts for Double-A Somerset, Otto recorded a 3.78 ERA with 28 strikeouts and two walks in 16.2 innings. He didn’t allow a run in his first and third outings. In between, he coughed up seven runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings.
That bad start was a sign of good things to come for Otto, according to Briend. It was the start of Otto’s delivery changes finally clicking, allowing him to more frequently find the strike zone.
Briend said that while Yankees coaches were exploring command issues Otto had been experiencing, they identified a possible flaw that led him to push off the rubber. That would slow his arm, forcing his fastballs to miss high and arm side and making him yank his curveball.
Then they went to work to add a slider.
“He’s always had a nasty breaking ball,” Briend said. “A big, over-the-top curveball. It’s a banger. It hasn’t played right to righties, but it’s been awesome to lefties. So we thought the addition of a slider would really give him that swing-and-miss pitch that he’s been lacking to righthanders.”
Briend said that Otto has started to learn how to “throw (his slider) in the zone for a strike, expand off the plate.”
It’s all been part of a transformation that started during spring training.
“And he’s just going after guys and saying, ‘Here it is, can you hit it?’ ” Briend said. “That mindset is a big change.”
— Double-A Somerset righthanded reliever Greg Weissert caught the attention of one American League scout who believed his slider could get big league outs right now. Weissert, an 18th-round pick in 2016, struck out 10 hitters through his first 6.2 innings with a 1.35 ERA.
— Despite a need at center field in the majors, the Yankees had no immediate plans to call up big league role to highly regarded prospect Estevan Florial, emphasizing the need for him to display improved pitch recognition and swing decisions.