Yankees Fortify Bullpen Depth By Adding Clay Holmes From Pirates
The Yankees started their deadline activity on Monday by swinging a deal to add righty reliever Clay Holmes from Pittsburgh. To do so, they sent a pair of resurgent prospects—infielder Diego Castillo and utilityman Hoy Park—to the Pirates. Both Castillo and Park were eligible for Rule 5 draft selection in 2020 and would have needed to to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason to avoid being poached by other teams.
The addition of Holmes also helps salve a bullpen that's been tormented all season long by injuries and underperformance while the team tries to climb back into playoff position.
Clay Holmes, RHP
Holmes, selected by the Pirates out of high school in Alabama in the ninth round of the 2011 draft, has not been particularly effective in 2021. He operates primarily with a mid-90s sinker and a high-80s slider. Despite a 4.93 ERA, Holmes has done an exceptional job of avoiding hard contact; his barrel rate of 4.3% is among the top 9% in the majors, according to BaseballSavant.com. Among pitchers with 40 or more innings (Holmes has thrown 42), Holmes' 72.8% groundball rate is the best in the majors. He needs to improve his command and control, though, as shown by his 5.4 walks per nine innings.
Diego Castillo, UTL
Signed by the Yankees out of Venezuela in 2014, Castillo's climb through the minors has been methodical. He always had plenty in the way of bat-to-ball skills, but had shown little in the way of power ... until this season. Evaluators as early as minor league spring training noted the added authority with which Castillo was striking the ball, and the results have continued at Double-A. Through 58 games with Somerset, Castillo had 29 extra-base hits (18 doubles, 11 home runs). His previous high-water mark for extra-base hits in a season was 24, achieved in 2018 (in 120 games) and 2019 (114 games). Defensively, some of the added strength has sapped his range on the infield, and scouts noted his footwork had become clunkier as well. Castillo has played shortstop, third base and second base this year, and scouts believe second is his best position. He was set to rank No. 24 on the Yankees' updated midseason Top 30.
Hoy Park, UTL
Park was signed by the Yankees in 2014 out of South Korea and moved slowly through the minor leagues. Like Castillo, Park had shown an uptick in power in 2021. Through 58 games at the upper levels, he'd swatted 11 homers, which bested his previous career high by four and represented 32.4% of his career total. He came to spring training in 2020 more physical, but virtually nobody saw his new physique because of the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. He kept the strength through the shutdown and into the 2021 season, while also utilizing a more power-oriented approach. Essentially, the Yankees asked him to utilize the bat-to-ball skills and knowledge of the strike zone he'd always shown and focus on hitting the ball harder when he made contact. He's played all over the diamond with Triple-A this year, and his versatility should help him increase his big league value. Scouts from other organizations believe Park fits best in the outfield, and he played right field in his one big league game.