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The Yankees drafted LHP T.J. Sikkema from the University of Missouri during the Competitive Balance Round A, with the No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
At the time, the then-20-year-old was ranked as the No. 57 prospect by MLB Pipeline, but the Yankees saw something else in him to exceed that when draft day came around.
An uber-competitive pitcher, Sikkema is already the Yankees' 17th best prospect in their farm system with an estimated arrival time in the majors of 2022.
Where will Sikkema be when that occurs? And how much impact will he have once he gets there? Let's do a deep dive into the crafty lefty to see how he might pitch in pinstripes one day...
What scouts are saying
"Sikkema's ability to vary his arm angle and manipulate his pitches reminds some Yankees officials of a left-handed version of Orlando Hernandez. He operates at 88-91 mph with quality run and sink on his fastball from a low three-quarters slot and can reach back for 93-95 mph from a more overhand slot when needed. He can change the shape of his 78-83 mph slider, which features high spin rates and is a plus offering at its best. " - MLB Pipeline
What happens in 2020?
Sikkema finished off his junior season with a 1.32 ERA in 2019, and that dominance on the bump continued in his first taste of pro ball in short-season Staten Island last season. He owned a 0.84 ERA over four games, which were all starts (10.2 innings). He also had 13 strikeouts over that span.
If the season was being played normally right now, Sikkema would likely have worked his way up to High-A Tampa after spending time dominating in Low-A Charleston. Sikkema's stuff looked great last season, and he should be riding high from that. Would a Double-A stint have been in the cards? Absolutely. But spending most of the season in High-A would've likely been the case.
Whenever the season returns, we'll have to see what a minor league season, if at all, will look like. But expect to see Sikkema at those Single-A levels.
What could the future hold?
Sikkema's arsenal on the mound is fun to watch when it's on. His fastball might not light up the radar gun, but it has some run and tail to it that fools hitters. And nothing is better than watching his slider at 78-83 mph, which is a large gap to see in speed. Taking some off to get more run or keeping it tighter with a faster delivery keeps hitters on their toes.
During his college career, Sikkema was a reliever that developed into a starter. That could be the same way he breaks in with the Yankees, working as a solid reliever designed to get lefties out with that nasty breaking pitch. The ceiling right now might be a back-end starter, though.
It all depends on the situations Sikkema likes to work in and sees success in. He's extremely competitive and has a great feel for high-pressure moments, which obviously a reliever must possess. But also getting out of trouble as a starter to save the bullpen is crucial as well.
His demeanor mixed with that solid stuff on the mound is why the Yanks picked him as high as they did, and it should pay dividends once he reaches the bigs. Look for him in the bullpen first, though.