Signed as an amateur international free agent in 2015 for $50K, Rijo has a mature frame and an advanced feel to pitch. He was one of the pieces the Yankees sent to Minnesota for Lance Lynn at the 2018 Trade Deadline. At 19 years old, Rijo already has some present strength in his body and there’s still room to fill out in his upper half. Pitching from a semi-windup delivery, Rijo has a compact arm circle that is repeatable from a ¾’s arm slot, with above-average arm speed.
Rijo does not give in to hitters and brings a presence to the hill. From my looks in Extended Spring Training, his fastball sat 92-to-93 mph (T94). Often times the pitch cut on him, but it did not look to be intentional as he struggled to rein it and show consistent command. When he did, the pitch showed effective late life. He pounds the zone with his fastball, showing advanced feel for strikes with the ability to move the ball to all four quadrants. His curveball, at 75-to-76 mph, is a power breaker with sharp action. It was inconsistent from outing to outing, but has the makings of a future-average pitch as he builds more reps. He throws a low-80s changeup in games, but t’s in the nascent stages, often telegraphed with a slow arm-stroke that tipped off hitters it was coming. The changeup is a clear third at this point, though he’ll need to develop it to average to reach a starter’s ceiling.
There’s less upside than other teenage pitching prospects, but Rijo has the makings of a back-of-the-rotation starter if his changeup can get to average. He’s more attractive for his floor than the ceiling, but there’s less risk with Rijo than most young arms.