Littell was a quiet-but-important piece of the Yankees’ package to acquire left-hander Jaime Garcia from the Twins at this year’s trade deadline (along with lefty Deitrich Enns). Assigned to Chattanooga, I was able to view his start on August 21, where he threw six innings of two-hit ball, walking four and striking out six in a no-decision, 3-2 loss.
Littell has a strong and durable, well-proportioned frame, and looks fully developed with a prototypical starter’s build. He has a short arm action and repeats his delivery well. He’s aggressive in his approach, with plus feel for pitching and really attacks the zone with his four-pitch mix, and this four-walk outing was uncharacteristic of his performance this year, where he has shown consistent plus control (2.3 BB/9) and double-plus control last year over a solid 165.2 innings (1.8 BB/9). His fastball was average, sitting 91-to-93 mph with most reading at 91 mph, and he can work it to both sides of the plate with run and tailing action for above-average movement. The movement and plus command play the pitch up to an above-average grade.
The curveball is plus, showing ¾ depth and sharp break in the 73-to-76 mph range, and he can change the shape. He is confident to throw the pitch for strikes in any count with plus command, and it has some deception off the fastball. His slider was average, with more of a cutter look in the 84-to-86 mph range, and the changeup showed average late fade at 83-to-85 mph.
It’s been a breakout year for Littell, with an 18-1 record across 24 starts and two relief appearances, and he’s crossed 150 innings for the second consecutive year and taking a regular turn in the rotation without an injury as a pro. He has a realistic role of a number four-or-five starter, with the durability to really eat up a bunch of innings in a rotation.