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April 5, 2005

by Fabian

Steven White, 23, RHP

My initial instinct was to place Matt DeSalvo ahead of Steven White on this list due to superior statistical performance. However, at the last moment I decided to go with the scouting school of thought on the decision between the two. It is tough to ignore White’s ideal pitcher’s build, 6’5’’ and 205 pounds, and his low-to-mid 90s fastball. Of course, the problem with that fastball is that it is White’s only truly dominant pitch at this moment.

While White did not have much of a problem overpowering Low-A hitters with his fastball, even when it was strictly in the low 90s early in the season, he’s going to need to develop the rest of his arsenal for the full scouting approval. Like pretty much every other Yankee pitching prospect, White throws a curveball and a change-up. White’s curveball came on as the year progressed, but his change-up lags behind due to lack of use. AA hitters will test whether or not White was able to make the necessary adjustments during the winter.

Developing said arsenal would ease my major concerns about White. While some may point to White’s fastball, physical size, and 2.61 overall ERA as enough evidence of his prowess, I worry about his peripheral numbers. White struck out 8.74 men per 9 innings as a member of the Battle Creek Yankees, which was along normal expectations considering his amateur experience and tools. Perhaps more encouragingly, White only allowed a .183 opponents batting average, which is spectacular. Despite that, his WHIP was still slightly above 1 as he struggled a bit with his control, 4.06 BB/9. Some of that may be explained by working off the rust from not pitching in quite a while. Lastly, White’s HR/9 was .62, which is solid. Upon promotion to the FSL, White was able to keep his HR/9 around the same level, .60, and improve his control, 2.87 BB/9, but he was more hittable, .226 BAA and 6.64 K/9. This is somewhat of a big deal to me because, once again taking into account his amateur experience, I expected White to do a better job of maintaining his hit and K rates. Since he did not, despite the other performance indicators and his big fastball, I’m not as big on White as some.

In general, it is prospects without big time tools that are expected to be proven or broken at AA, but I’m approaching White in the same light. While acknowledging that he has a higher physical ceiling than Matt DeSalvo, I think he will struggle more than DeSalvo in AA at this point due to his repertoire being shallower. Additionally, while I agree that White looks like a future innings eater, I’m not sure if he will be a middle of the rotation one, based on his performance I’m more inclined to think of him as a back of the rotation innings eater. This could change quickly if he can do a better job of maintaining his K rate as he rises through the minors. The key to that will be getting comfortable with more pitches because major league hitters can and will hit the best of fastballs (see: Capellan, Jose).

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