Breakout Bombers: Justin Lange
Right-handed starting pitcher
Draft: 1st round (34th pick) in the 2020 draft
When the Yankees were looking to trade Luke Voit, I was surprised to hear they got a former first round pick in return. Sure, his numbers were bad in his first professional season, but Justin Lange had big stuff and a great arm. The Padres were ready to move on, however, and it may turn out to be to the Yankees’ benefit.
In his first year as a pro, he had a 6.95 ERA and 29 K : 15 BB in 22 innings pitched. He had a .217 average against. That offseason he was traded to the Yankees, and he had a similar season with a better strikeout rate. He finished 2022 with a 6.44 ERA and 51 K : 30 BB in 36.1 innings pitched. He again had an impressive .215 average against.
While these are not the numbers you want to see from a first-round pick, they portray a pitcher who simply needs to do one thing to be successful. Throw strikes. When in the zone, no one has hit Lange for the past two seasons. Combining this with the scouting reports, the Yankees took a risk on the kid.
So far this year, Lange has looked like he has put his control issues behind him. In a small sample size, he has just two walks in 10 innings, while striking out an astounding 17 batters over two starts. He has a .200 average against and a 1.80 ERA against Low-A competition.
Lange has incredible stuff. He has a four-seam fastball that sits 96 mph and ranges from 94-98. The fastball has good side to side and vertical movement. He also has a changeup and cutter in the upper 80’s which move in opposite directions with similar 28–32 inch break. He finishes off the repertoire with a slider that sits in the low to mid 80’s with 40 inches of break.
Put it all together and you have a devastating repertoire, and one that could get even nastier as he gets older and stronger. Still just 21-years-old, he will probably take another 2-3 years to truly come into his own.
There are bound to be some bumps in the road going forward, but it appears Lange has taken a huge leap forward in 2023. He has special talent. If he continues on the road to putting it all together, Lange could be widely considered a top prospect by the end of the season.