Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nuno Impresses in Win Over Red Sox

If you mentioned the name Vidal Nuno to anyone at the start of Spring Training this year, they probably scrunched up their eye brows at the person who queried you and said, "Who?".  There's a chance that won't be the case much longer.

Nuno continued to make the Yankees front office and manager Joe Girardi take notice with five shutout innings in the Yankees 4-0 win over the Boston Red Sox Wednesday afternoon.

Nuno impressed in the 20 starts he made for Double-A Trenton last year. He had a 2.54 ERA against Eastern League hitters, struck out 100 in 114 innings and walked just 27 to help finish 9-5.

The 5'11", 25-year old was drafted out of Baker (KS) University by the Cleveland Indians in the 48th round of the 2009 MLB amateur draft. Household names don't usually get selected in the 48th round of anything. After an impressive post-draft stint in the New York-Penn League (NYPL), Nuno didn't fare as well the following season (6-9, 4.96 in 'A' ball) though his impeccable control continued. Inexplicably, the Indians released him the following March.

After six games in the independent Frontier League, the Yankees signed Nuno in mid-June. The 24-year old dominated the NYPL hitters, most of which were just out of high school or college. The Yankees quickly moved Nuno from Staten Island to 'A' ball in Charleston where continued to dominate opposing batters. Between the two levels, Nuno had a laughable 11.2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. The Indians loss appeared to be the Yankees gain.

Soon the Yankees will have decisions to make concerning the team that goes north for the April 1 home opener with Boston and which players get sent to the minors or released. The Yankees two left-handers in the pen were both banged up this spring. Boone Logan appeared in his first spring training game on Tuesday after sitting out with elbow inflammation. Clay Rapada made two appearances this spring, but has been out for nearly two weeks after he was diagnosed with bursitis in his shoulder.

The Yankees don't necessarily need two left-handers in the pen to start the season, but if Logan or Rapada is not ready, the Yankees could turn to Nuno.  The California native could also be considered a dark horse for a spot in the rotation if Phil Hughes starts the season on the disabled list. (Ivan Nova and David Phelps are the experienced pitchers that are currently battling for the number five spot among the starters.)

The most likely spot for Nuno will be in the starting rotation for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (What a horrible name). With Manny Banuelos recovering from Tommy John surgery, Nuno has leaped to the top of the charts among the team's left-handed pitching prospects.

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