Yarbrough has pedigree, having pitched on loaded Santa Fe, Florida Junior College teams that included current prospects such as Alec Asher (Rangers), Chris Lee (Astros), and Mallex Smith (Padres).
Then he was a weekend starter for two seasons at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
In 2013, he got drafted by the Brewers in the 20th, but he stayed in college.
- In 2014, he got drafted by the Mariners and signed (see Transactions below).
In 2016, Baseball America rated Yarbrough as the 14th-best prospect in the Mariners organization. He was at #12 in the offseason before 2017 spring training.
After going to the Rays, Ryan was 26th in their farm system in the spring of 2018.
Ryan needs to stay on top of his conditioning and develop a good routine. (Spring, 2016)
MLB debut (March 31, 2018): One thought went through LHP Ryan Yarbrough's mind as he ran from the bullpen to the mound for his MLB debut: "Holy (cow)! This is really happening." Yarbrough, who grew up an hour away in Lakeland, pitched four innings in the Rays 3-2 loss to the Red Sox at Tropicana Field. He replaced RHP Andrew Kittredge as the second pitcher during the Rays' first bullpen day of the season with one out in the fourth inning and Hanley Ramirez on second base.
Ramirez eventually scored on a throwing error by 3B Matt Duffy. Yarbrough allowed a run in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts. But Yarbrough did his job, taking the game to the eighth inning before manager Kevin Cash called on RHP Sergio Romo.
"I was going to hold onto the ball as long as possible until Cash came out and took it from me," Yarbrough said. It was a 73-pitch effort for Yarbrough, who appeared in relief for the first time since 2014, his first year in pro ball. Only David Price (5 1/3 innings at New York on Sept. 14, 2008) made his Major League debut for the Rays with a longer relief stint. "It was really special here, especially with my family and it being right down the road (from Lakeland)," Yarbrough said. "The longer I was out there, I settled in a little bit and felt a lot better." (Roger Mooney - Tampa Bay Times)
June 2014: Ryan signed with the Mariners for only $40,000, when they chose him in the 4th round, out of Old Dominion, as a senior sign. Devitt Moore is the scout who signed him.
Yarbrough embodies the teachings of scouting director Tom McNamara about finding true prospects and future big leaguers in senior signs.
- January 11, 2017: The Rays traded LHP Drew Smyly to the Mariners for SS Carlos Vargas, CF Mallex Smith, and LHP Ryan Yarbrough.
|Birth City:||Lakeland, FL|
|Draft:||Mariners #4 - 2014 - Out of Old Dominion Univ. (VA)|
Yarbrough has an 89-93 mph FASTBALL with natural deception, sink and downhill angle that helps it jump on righthanded hitters, when he comes inside. His slurvy-SLIDER comes and goes, but he keeps it in and around the strike zone. It is only a 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale—below average, but could improve to a 50.
His CHANGEUP has at least average potential, flashing above-average (a 60) because of outstanding deception. He has great arm speed on it and the pitch has very good fading action. And it is so good that it helps his heater play up. (Spring, 2017)
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 32.5% of the time; Change 25%; Slider 11%; his Curve less than 1%; and his Cutter 31.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 90 mph, Change 82, Slider 77.2, Curve 79, and Cutter 87.7 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 24.7% of the time; Change 25.5%; Slider 13.4%; and his Cutter 36.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 88.5 mph, Change 79.9, Slider 73.2, and Cutter 84.4 mph.
Ryan has truly fine control—rating a 60 or better—punting both sides of the plate. During his time with Everett in 2014, Yarbrough had a 24-inning streak without a walk.
His above-average control, and low, crossfire arm slot, allow his repertoire to play up. Yarbrough's delivery may remind people of Madison Bumgarner's. He pitches from an impressive downhill plane.
Yarbrough is thin, long and tall.
Ryan induces a lot of groundballs from his sinker.
The southpaw needs to improve his results versus righthanded batters to avoid a bullpen future. But he is already plenty tough enough on lefthanded hitters.
2018: Key stat: 26.9 percent hard-hit rate.
Yarbrough's line might cause a double take—he went 16-6 despite starting only 6 games. That was the product of Tampa Bay's use of "openers" on the mound, with Yarbrough typically coming in afterward and going multiple innings.
Unorthodox usage aside, the 26-year-old was able to post a 3.91 ERA, in large part because of how he limited hard contact (95-plus mph exit velocity). Of the 139 pitchers who allowed at least 300 batted balls, only 5 had a lower hard-hit rate, including CC Sabathia and Chris Sale in the AL. (Andrew Simon- MLB.com -Dec. 29, 2018)
Yarbrough talks about his cutter: “I started learning it a couple of years ago, kind of right after I got traded here from the Mariners. That was in January of 2017. When you first come to a new place, they want to see how you use your stuff; they want to get a good understanding of what you do. From there they said they wanted me to have a shorter, harder breaking ball. What I’d had was a bigger, slider-curveball — whatever people want to call it — and they wanted me to add another dimension.
“I talked to a couple guys in the organization, and began working on it. The cutter started developing. After awhile, using it all through Triple-A, and then last year in the big leagues, it’s become a pretty big weapon for me. With how my fastball runs, it helps keep hitters honest.
“Figuring out the grip … my thumb is so far underneath on my fastball, and I wanted to make my cutter as close to my fastball as possible, so my thumb is underneath on my cutter as well. I’m essentially just offsetting the grip a little bit around the horseshoe. That’s helped me get that little cut to it.
“You need a grip to be comfortable, and you also need to see results. I was lucky enough to have Kyle Snyder [as a pitching coach] in Triple-A when I first came over, and I’ve obviously had him here the last two years. We’re building on that relationship, understanding how it moves, and how it plays.
“We have a lot [of technology-based data], although personally, I’m a guy who likes to keep things very simplistic. But they will tell me things like, ‘Hey, it’s getting a little too much like your fastball; let’s turn it a little more to get some more movement.’ Stuff like that. There’s some give and take throughout the course of the year, depending on how it’s looking.” (David Laurila - Fangraphs - June 10, 2019)
July 25, 2020: “When he’s on and he has a feel for the cutter, he gets really nasty,” Cash said. “I mean, some of those cutters from the side, I understand why hitters come out of the batter’s box saying it looks like 100 mph. … It’s not really a surprise pitch, I think most teams know that he’s going to go to that quite a bit, and that shows how effective it is.”
The confidence in those situations and on all his pitches is why Yarbrough feels that he’s ready to handle one of the five spots in the Tampa Bay rotation. The Rays will continue to keep the flexibility with the rotation, but Yarbrough is making it difficult for the Rays to pull him out of the rotation.
- Entering the 2020 season, Ryan had a career record of 27-12 and 4.02 ERA, allowing 261 hits and 33 home runs in 289 innings pitched.
June 2015: Yarbrough missed a month with a groin injury.
August 20-September 3, 2016: Ryan was on the DL with a strained groin.
- Aug 28-Sept 8, 2020: Ryan was on the IL with left groin tightness.
Sept 4, 2020: The team could be on the verge of welcoming back starter Ryan Yarbrough.
Yarbrough, who has been sidelined since Aug. 28 with left groin tightness, threw a bullpen session. Rays manager Kevin Cash said that there were no setbacks and that the next time the left-hander throws could be in a game.
“The bullpen went really, really well,” Cash said. “I spoke with [pitching coach Kyle Snyder] during the game. He said [Yarbrough] looked great. I think now it’s just a matter of him going through the bullpen and us finding where we’re going to slot him back in.”