2009 Thunder A-Z: Jeremy Bleich

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Before 2009: Um.  Well.  If you’re looking for a write-up about Jeremy Bleich’s professional debut in 2008, it would be a bit tough to go into detail about just three innings.  Sure, he pitched in winter ball in Hawaii, but those innings don’t count towards his professional total.

In any event, Bleich ended up as the Yankees top draft pick that they actually signed, as they took him with the 44th overall pick in the supplemental first round after starring at Stanford.

Baseball America rated him as the second-best southpaw pitching prospect in the organization, 11th best prospect overall, and listed Bleich as being closest to the majors of those selected by the Yankees in his draft class, as well as having the best secondary pitch out of his class. 

One season earlier, the publication rated Bleich as their 60th best college pitching prospect.

2009: Bleich, who didn’t turn 22 years old until June 18th, started the season at High-A Tampa.  He spent the first half of the season in the Florida State League, going 6-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 14 starts.  He finished his run down south particularly strong, winning his last three starts and allowing a run in just one of them. 

And then Bleich got called up to Double-A.

That’s right around where the wheels fell off.  Bleich, who came into Mercer County with high expectations, was disappointing to be kind.  In 13 starts, he was 3-6 with a 6.65 ERA.  He allowed four or more runs in eight of those starts, and ended up with a WHIP that hovered around two.  While he showed flashes of brilliance, including a seven inning, scoreless outing on the last day of July in Altoona, he offered more bad starts than good.

After 2009: Unquestionably, Bleich is better than what he showed in a Thunder uniform.  He has to be.  Although the Yankees have been known to rush early round pitchers through the system reallyreallyfast with some success, it has been known to backfire on them in the long run.  Phil Hughes got rushed through and has yet to fulfill his potential as a possible front of the rotation starter.  Joba Chamberlain…well, who knows what they’re doing with him.  And Ian Kennedy’s career has been derailed by inconsistency and an aneurysm.  This setback for Bleich just happened to occur while he was still in the minors. 

As Yankees VP of Scouting Damon Oppenheimer said, they’d much rather have guys struggle down here than up there.  And if Bleich going through some adversity in Double-A means he’ll be better equipped to pitch at Yankee Stadium, I think that’s a trade-off the organization is willing to make.

Almost certainly, Bleich will start the 2010 in the middle of the Trenton Thunder rotation.  It is not at all impossible to see him moving his way towards the front of the rotation through pitching well and promotions, and possibly earning a trip to Scranton around the All-Star break next year.  But for right now, Bleich must focus on mastering Double-A.  He’ll get his chance at Waterfront Park next year.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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2 Responses to “2009 Thunder A-Z: Jeremy Bleich”

  1. joe Says:

    bleich was rushed. he is a smart pitcher who knows how to mix pitches well.

  2. yanksince57-was last year 1959 or was it 1965? Says:

    bleich was definately rushed, which seems to be the new nyy policy, as opposed to previously letting the “prospects” rot at the same level for 2 years at a time or else trading them away for aarp candidates. the jury is still out on which way will be better in the long run.

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