The Texas Rangers took right-hander Dillon Tate with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, but by the middle of 2016, after some delivery changes and a hamstring injury, he'd lost his fastball and was struggling to get outs in low-A as a 22-year-old. Texas dealt him to the New York Yankees for a two-month rental of Carlos Beltran last July, a sign of how far Tate's stock had fallen in just 13 months.
The Yankees convinced Tate to restore his old delivery from college, which has a lot of Dontrelle Willis to it, and it's brought Tate's old stuff back. On Tuesday night, he started Game 1 of the Eastern League championship series for Trenton, and was sitting at 94-97 mph from the windup with more fastball life than he'd shown last year in the Arizona Fall League as a reliever, along with a much-improved changeup that I think has surpassed his slider to become his best off-speed pitch.
While his pure stuff is back -- and good -- Tate is now back to where he was out of the draft: an athletic pitcher with arm strength who needs to improve his command and who doesn't miss enough bats. Tate recorded just six swinging strikes, three of which came against one batter. Stuff like this should miss bats, but it doesn’t. The slider is more average now and I think hitters see it pretty early out of his hand, while his fastball has great life but hitters are still able to put it in play, albeit not very hard. Tate still has starter potential, even good starter potential, but there are a couple of specific facets to his game that have to improve for him to get there.