Originally acquired in the Josh Bell trade, right-handed pitcher Eddy Yean may have had one of the more puzzling 2021 seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates system.
The base stats weren’t pretty, as the Dominican-born Yean struggled to throw strikes and put himself in position to be hit hard. Despite being a hard thrower, he didn’t put up the strikeout numbers you have expected.
Then again, Yean turned 20-years old during the season and 2021 was his first full season of professional ball after not pitching in 2020 due to the pandemic.
With the Bradenton Marauders, Yean pitched in 22 games, eight starts, posting a 5.27 ERA with 39 walks and 69 strikeouts across 66 2/3 innings pitched.
— Tim Williams (@TimWilliamsP2) March 2, 2022
Yean wasn’t hit too hard, with opponents’ batting just .224 against him, as well as slugging just .380. The issue rested with his control, which took a big step back from his 2019 season that he split between two Washington National rookie league teams.
Along with control, Yean’s development can take a bigger step with more work, and confidence, with his secondary pitches. According to Minor League Splits, he threw his fastball 56% of the time in 2021, averaging 95 MPH on it. While it does show some late life on it, especially against lefties, he also didn’t miss many bats with it. Compared to his slider and changeup, his fastball didn’t generate nearly as many whiffs as his secondary stuff.
Both his secondary pitches had over a 40% whiff rate while in Bradenton, two of the higher rates on the team, yet his strikeout numbers – while a respectable 9.32 K/9 mark – doesn’t really reflect that.
Another puzzling number, Yean posted strong whiff rate numbers with two of his three pitches, but among pitchers with 50+ innings with Bradenton, opponents had the highest contact percentage against him.
I put together a video collection of Yean just throwing sliders, and as you can see the pitch is still very much in the raw stages.
You can see some decent horizontal break on the pitch, and there are times where the pitch looks truly unhittable. The problem with the pitch is that, at times, lacks consistency with its shape and form.
There came a point where some of the swings and misses he was getting were more due to facing A-ball level hitters than to the actual bite of the slider itself.
In the next video, the first batter Yean faces shows the kind of trouble he can get himself in with his control. It’s not an uncommon theme, after jumping ahead, Yean throws back-to-back sliders for balls before having to offer up a fastball that gets hit and surrenders a run.
Yean is able to bounce back, as the next three batters shown are from the following inning. Against Danny Lantigua, Yean was able to jump to an 0-2 advantage to lead off the inning with a well executed fastball/changeup combination, the latter even getting swing and miss.
After trying to get Lantigua to swing on a back foot slider, Yean throws a fastball at the knees to get the swing and miss strike three call.
Two batters later in the same inning, Yean was able to get Reyny Reyes to ground out to third base with runners on the corners after three of the four pitches he threw were fastballs inside. He tried to get him to chase a slider away with the other pitch, before coming right back in with the fastball to get the ground out.
It was good awareness, he went for the strikeout after jumping up 0-2, but didn’t play around with multiple runners on and went straight for the out.
The final batter of the clip was against Wendell Marrero, who Yean struck out on four pitches – all sliders. It looked like one slipped out his hand and went high but the rest was low and all got swing and misses. This was especially impressive with runners now on second and third. He went aggressive and just went for the punch out, getting the batter to swing three times.
Yean has a ways to go, but has showed some promise early in his career. He will have to develop more confidence and consistency in his secondary pitches, along with regaining the control he lost last season, if he is going to move above Bradenton.
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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.