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Yankees Lefty J.P. Sears Stands Out In Spring Training

Nearly five years ago, the Yankees traded reliever Nick Rumbelow to the Mariners for a pitching prospect whose name wasn’t widely known.

Now, 5-foot-11, 180-pound lefthander J.P. Sears is knocking on the door of the Bronx. Actually, he’s banging on it.

The 26-year-old Sears emerged as one of the most intriguing young arms at Yankees spring training this year.

“He’s an extreme competitor and he’s not going to be flashy about it,” Yankees director of pitching Sam Briend said. “But he’s going to beat you and he knows it.”

Sears could earn spot starts or a multi-inning relief role as early as this season for manager Aaron Boone.

Since Seattle drafted him in the 11th round out of The Citadel in 2017, Sears has put up solid or better numbers at every rung of the minors.

Last season, he went 10-2 with a 3.46 ERA in 25 games (18 starts) between Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He fanned an impressive 11.8 batters per nine innings while walking just 2.5. He finished stronger than he started, going 7-0, 2.87 in 10 starts after getting promoted.

Sears’ fastball has steadily grown into high-end status, typically sitting between 93-95 mph and topping out at 97. Briend said Sears throws the pitch for a strike around 70% of the time.

“It’s an absolute weapon for him,” Briend said.

The instructor added that Sears’ changeup “gets a lot of weak contact and quick outs.”

As for Sears’ third pitch—a slider—“it still has room to grow,” Briend said. “If he can open that up a touch more, I think he’ll have a really devastating swing-and-miss pitch to lefties as well as a third offering to righties that he can use to keep them off-balance even more.”

But for Sears, it’s his mindset that might put him over the top.

“He’s extremely composed and one of the hardest workers you’ll find, but underneath it all there’s this quiet confidence that’s always there,” Briend said.

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