Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 14…of 286. Stay tuned.
Jordan Michael Michiru Yamamoto, who you can follow at @jyamaz21, is a 6′, 185 lb. right-handed pitcher from Pearl City, HI. Born on May 11th, 1996, He joined the Miami Marlins system on January 25th of this year, aloing with Lewis Brinson, Isan Diaz, and Monte Harrison for Christian Yelich.
In 2014, Yamamoto was chosen in the 11th round of the draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, with the 356th overall selection. Five players picked at that spot have enjoyed at least a little time in the majors, led by Ted Lilly (1995, Toronto Blue Jays, 27.1 WAR) and Robbie Ray (2010, Washington Nationals, 7.6). Yamamoto signed with the Brewers for a $330,000 bonus.
Yamamoto was nearly an afterthought in the Yelich trade-off, but has since showed the flash and fire necessary to make an impact at the major league level. The expectation at this point is that he may challenge for a Miami Marlins rotation spot during 2019 Spring Training.
According to the mlb.com Pipeline:
"Yamamoto has seen his stuff and overall pitchability improve in each of his four seasons. He compensates for being undersized with a high-spin-rate fastball that sits 89-93 mph and induces whiffs in and above the zone. Yamamoto’s breaking ball is his best secondary pitch, flashing plus at times with late downer action, and he exhibits feel for a promising changeup. His entire arsenal plays up because he’s a good strike-thrower, though he’s likely to be challenged in that regarded against upper-level hitters."
After his selection, Yamamoto joined the rookie-level Helena Brewers in the Arizona League. In 10 games, including three starts, he struck out 22 in 21 2/3 innings, with a 1.62 WHIP and an oppBA of .262. In his best game, on August 13th in an 8-2 loss to the AZL Giants, he started and pitched three shutout innings, striking out three.
2015 would see Yamamoto make the jump to the Helena Brewers, in the Pioneer League. He allowed 99 hits in 62 innings, striking out 59 and racking up a 7.84 ERA, a .363 oppBA and a 1.95 WHIP. There was clearly still work to do.
In 2016, Yamamoto showed a lot of improvement. He went 7-8 with a 3.82 ERA, 152 K’s in 134 1/3 innings, and a 1.20 WHIP. All solid numbers. On August 21st, in arguably his best game of the season, he earned a win by pitching four shutout one-hit innings in relief, striking out five in a 3-2, 10-inning Wisconsin Timber Rattler victory over the Beloit Snappers.
2017 would see Yamamoto go from merely passable to something better. He was 9-4 with a 2.51 ERA, with 113 K’s in 111 innings. He limited opposing batters to a .223 average and a 1.09 WHIP and only walked 30 batters. Over his last four starts of the season for the high-A Carolina Mudcats, he struck out 27 in 27 innings while allowing 17 hits, four walks, and no earned runs. He was named the Carolina League Player of the Week on September 4th of that year.
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After the trade, Yamamoto began the season with the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads, in the Florida State League despite already mastering the level. He didn’t need it, and it showed. He went 4-1 over seven starts, with a 1.81 ERA, a 0.83 WHIP, and 85 whiffs in 68 2/3 innings. After an injury and a rehab stint with the GCL Marlins, Yamamoto moved to the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the double-A Southern League. Although it’s a small sample size, he was lights out there too. A 2.12 ERA and 23 K’s in 17 innings, along with a 0.94 WHIP. Over his 13 starts through the season between the three levels, he never allowed more than two earned runs. He was filthy on June 20th, when he allowed two hits and no walks over seven innings, striking out 13 and earning the 2-0 win over the Florida Fire Frogs. For that, he was named the FSL Pitcher of the Week. In his last start of the season, on August 30th, Yamamoto struck out nine in six innings, allowing no runs, no walks, and no hits while earning no-decision in a 1-0, seven-inning loss to the Mississippi Braves.
Currently the 16th ranked prospect in the Miami Marlins system, Yamamoto stands a decent chance to compete for a rotation start with the Marlins as early as next season, although it’s probably more likely that they keep him at double-A for additional seasoning.
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