Yankees manager Aaron Boone said top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield is "getting a lot closer" to being promoted to the majors.
The 22-year-old Sheffield, whom the Yankees refused to include in any potential trade for former Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, has a 2.38 ERA in 17 minor-league games (16 starts) with both Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.
Sheffield, ranked among the top 57 prospects by Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, could have an impact on the Yankees in a similar fashion that Luis Severino did when he was first called up to the majors midway through the 2015 season.
While the Yankees promoted Domingo Acevedo, the seventh-ranked prospect in the organization, from Double-A earlier this weekend, Boone said Sheffield is still in the mix to make an MLB impact as the Yankees find themselves five games back of the Red Sox in the AL East.
"He's putting himself in position probably in the short term to be in consideration for a spot, whether it be a rotation need, whether it be a bullpen need," Boone said, according to Newsday's Laura Albanese. "He certainly is knocking on that door and getting a lot closer, absolutely."
When he pitched in the Futures Game, Sheffield said he would focus on his mechanics and his composure on the mound as opposed to worrying about any kind of promotion or trade rumors.
"I can't control any of the call-ups or anything like that, so the best thing to do is just go out there and compete for the team in Triple-A or wherever I am," Sheffield said. "If I get the opportunity, that'll be great. If not, get better every day until I do."
Sheffield is 3-3 with a 2.44 ERA since being promoted to Triple-A, and over his last 10 starts he is 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.
"I'm pitching with more confidence," Sheffield said. "Not trying to hit the corners and things like that. Trying to induce contact and let my defense work behind me."
Before Severino became the Yankees' ace, he was a midseason call-up who helped pitch the team to the 2015 wild-card game. In 11 starts in 2015, Severino went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts.
Of course, Sheffield and Severino are two completely different pitchers. But perhaps the younger Sheffield can make a similar impact in 2018.