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Yankees preparing top pitching prospect for September role

The 22-year-old is 6-6 with a 2.52 ERA in 22 starts at Double-A and Triple-A this season.

The New York Yankees No. 1 pitching prospect, Justus Sheffield, had his scheduled start scratched on Tuesday. Normally, that would cause concern and indicate an injury. However this time, that’s not the case.

The Yankees are beginning a plan that could give Sheffield a key role at the Major League level come September. After being scratched from the start, the lefty was sent to the bullpen, and the plan is to have him stay there for the remainder of this season if all goes well.

The 22-year-old is 6-6 with a 2.52 ERA in 22 starts at Double-A and Triple-A this season. In 17 games since being promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Sheffield has gone 5-4 with a 2.61 ERA.

On Tuesday, Sheffield entered a 1-1 game in the seventh and allowed no runs on two hits while striking out two and walking none in a two-inning appearance for the RailRiders. The game was suspended after eight innings due to rain.

This was the first relief appearance for Sheffield, who is likely to be called up to the Yankees when rosters expand on Sept. 1. Upon doing so, he could slid right into a key role out of the Yankees bullpen. While still thought of as a starter, Sheffield could be used in multiple innings or to face a left-handed batter from time to time. He has held lefties to a .160 average this season.

If all goes well, Sheffield could pitch his way onto a potential postseason roster.

Sheffield is currently ranked as the 27th-best prospect and third-best left-handed pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline.

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