Every year since 1992, MLB and the MLBPA have held the Rookie Development Program geared towards the growth of younger players. This program’s objective is to help up-and-coming prospects avoid certain pitfalls that could derail their careers. One participant, a rookie by definition but at least five or six years the superior of some attendees, is New York Yankees prospect Brooks Kriske.
The right-handed pitcher is taking the opportunity to pick the brain of the established MLB players on hand, including Andrew Miller and Francisco Lindor. So far, he has taken in a lot from those conversations and has learned new mental skills. Additionally, he enjoys sharing some of his own experiences with other participants.
While the 26-year old has only pitched 3 2/3 MLB innings, he has plenty to discuss with his fellow rookies.
A Slow Start
Brooks Kriske signed as a senior out of the University of Southern California in 2016, getting a late start to his professional career. Soon after, he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery, costing him most of 2016 and all of 2017. He recovered and pitched well enough to make his MLB debut in 2020 despite never pitching above Double-A.
“I try to remind guys that it can happen fast and never take the game for granted,” Kriske said Tuesday on MLB Network’s Hot Stove. “I came back with a new love for the game after having it taken away from me for two years.”
Every player has their own time table with regards to their development. Kriske understands that, and he reiterates that lesson to some of those in attendance.
To him, playing in a deep organization has been beneficial for his development. The competition created from playing in a loaded MiLB system has pushed him and kept him motivated to get better.
This perspective allows him focus more on his growth instead of harping on getting to MLB quickly.
“If you spin it the right way, then it can be something that helps you out,” Kriske said. “[Instead] you can just be sitting there saying, ‘Oh I should be in the big leagues.'”
After overcoming what he has, Kriske knows there is more to his MLB career than a handful of innings. His numbers were not great in four appearances, posting a 14.37 ERA and 2.727 WHIP, but with eight strikeouts. That experience taught him to trust himself, rather than question his stuff. It is apparent that the Yankees trust him, too.
Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reported Monday that the organization feels strongly about his riding fastball, which averaged 95 mph in 2020 and hit 98 mph at the Alternate Site. The pitch drew comparisons to Chad Green‘s with good spin and a rising effect to it.
“There was a reason why they have me there and it’s because they believe in me,” Kriske said. “I have the ability to get people out and I just gotta keep rolling with it.”
That ability has played out in MiLB for Kriske. He has a 1.97 ERA and 1.082 WHIP with 135 strikeouts in 105 1/3 innings pitched. The next step is translating his stuff into results at the MLB level, and the Yankees will need him to do that in 2021 as they look for young pitchers to step up in the bullpen.
Brooks Kriske has overcome a lot in his short career. As the Yankees prospect gets the opportunity to share his story with other rookies and take notes from some of the best, he looks to make a difference for the Yankees in 2021.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images