Yankees pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt has been shut down due to a common extensor strain in his right elbow, manager Aaron Boone told The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler (Twitter links) and other reporters. This appears to be the only issue with Schmidt’s elbow, as an MRI didn’t reveal any ligament damage.
Boone said Schmidt will be kept out of action for three to four weeks, thus putting Schmidt out of consideration for the Opening Day roster as he’ll need more time to get ramped up. The Yankees will surely be as careful as possible with Schmidt, one of their top prospects and a young arm who was seen as a potential contributor to the pitching staff as early as this season. The Athletic’s Keith Law ranks the right-hander as the 48th-best prospect in the sport, and Schmidt also features in top-100 prospect rankings from Baseball America (64th), Fangraphs (75th), MLB Pipeline (83rd) and Baseball Prospectus (96th)
Schmidt (who just turned 25 two days ago) made his MLB debut in 2020, posting a 7.11 ERA with seven strikeouts and five walks over 6 1/3 innings of work. Selected 16th overall in the 2017 draft, Schmidt pitched well over 114 minor league innings and was expected to make his Triple-A debut in 2020 before the minor league season was canceled, though the Yankees thought enough of his work at their alternate training site to give him a cup of coffee in the Show.
Given his lack of Triple-A experience, Schmidt was probably likely to begin the season in the minors anyway, given how New York has their provisional starting five (Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, Domingo German) already in place. Given the number of injury concerns for those pitchers, however, plus the general need for teams to have as much pitching depth as possible as everyone rebuilds their innings limits after 2020, it certainly isn’t good news that the Yankees are already down a starting option for at least the first few weeks of the 2021 campaign.