It’s been a couple weeks since our last draft profile, so today we get back on track with Beck Way. The Yankees chose Way with the organization’s fourth round selection, which was also its last in the five round draft. A reminder, for the final time: the Yankees lost their fifth round pick as a result of signing Gerrit Cole. Ho hum.
Way, a 6-foot-4 right handed pitcher, was a quick riser after going undrafted in 2018 as a high schooler. He hails from central Pennsylvania but enrolled at Belmont Abbey, a Division II college located in North Carolina. Way didn’t spend to much time there, however. After spending his freshman year in the bullpen, Way transferred to Northwest Florida State Junior College.
Before we get to his one year in JuCo, we should touch upon Way’s performance in the Cape Cod League last summer. The righty appeared in 11 games, all but one in relief though he never threw more than two innings. He had a hard time with control (11 walks and 2 wild pitches in 13 2/3 innings), but impressed with 18 strikeouts. Various publications, including Baseball America, noted that his performance at the Cape helped Way gain recognition as a potential second or third rounder.
This year, Way got a chance to start primarily in JuCo. In seven games (six starts), Way threw 40 innings and recorded a microscopic 0.67 ERA. His control was much better (9 walks) and his strikeout tally remained excellent (58). The performance was impressive enough that Way committed to LSU for his junior season. That is, before the Yankees drafted him.
What the scouts say
The consensus is that Way is a better prospect than the Yankees’ third round pick, Trevor Hauver. That said, draft rankings don’t necessarily coincide with how teams choose players because of limited bonus pools. In any case, Baseball America ranked Way the 84th best prospect in the draft, MLB Pipeline had him 99th, Fangraphs 78th, and The Athletic 83rd to name a few.
From the sound of it, Way is relatively deceptive on the mound. The Athletic’s Keith Law called his delivery “funky” while MLB Pipeline noted his three-quarters arm slot. Perhaps that’s why he struggled with his command in his freshman season and on the Cape, but he’s certainly projectable given his previously noted size.
Way sits in the low-to-mid 90s but can touch as high as 97, per BA. He complements his heater with a slider and changeup, with differing reports on which secondary pitch is better. According to BA, Way’s changeup is a plus pitch, whereas his slighty flashes solid-average but is inconsistent. Meanwhile, MLB Pipeline notes that his slider is the better pitch “when he stays on top of it”. The site also says he doesn’t use his changeup much, but there’s belief it can be an average pitch.
With his frame and three-pitch mix, there’s a chance that Way can be a starter long-term as long as his command remains in check. His JuCo performance as a starter certainly added some hope that he wouldn’t be relegated to relief down the road. Still, Fangraphs and BA both note that he’s probably better off as a reliever (though that’s always a fairly safe thing to say about any draftee pitcher). On the optimistic side, Law says that Way has “clear starter upside”. Further, Law believes that there’s room for velocity growth.
Speaking of velocity, the Yankees clearly like Way’s potential on that front. Here’s what Yankees’ scouting director Damon Opponheimer says:
“There’s more in the tank with this guy when we get him in our strength and conditioning program…There’s just there’s a lot of room for growth here.”
And some more input from the Oppenheimer’s standpoint:
“Way made huge strides in Cape Cod last summer where his fastball’s been up to 98. He’s got good command of it to both sides of the plate. He has a loose, easy simple delivery to repeat (his mechanics). He’s got a really dynamic changeup that he feels comfortable using it any in any count. His breaking ball is going to be firmed up with our pitch-design guys and it’s going to be an effective out pitch also.”
Will he sign?
Way is the toughest sign of the Bombers’ three draftees. First rounder Austin Wells already signed for $2.5 million, which was just barely over slot. That leaves the Yankees with roughly $1,026,000 to play with for Hauver and Way. Slot value for Way is $438,700, but it’ll probably take more to keep him away from his LSU commitment. When I profiled Hauver, I noted that he seemed like an underslot candidate given that he was a college junior. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
The Yankees seem to make mountains out of molehills when it comes to college arms, so it’s hard not to give them the benefit of the doubt here. Way checks a lot of boxes: he’s tall, projectable, and already throws pretty hard. It certainly sounds like that’ll play in relief at the least, which would be a success for any fourth round pick. At best, it sounds like the Yankees might have a mid-to-back of the rotation starter on their hands. Of course, first the Yankees need to sign him away from his commitment.