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July 5, 2006

In-house starting pitcher options
by SG

Given the obvious need to replace the struggling Shawn Chacon in the rotation and the discussion in the previous thread, here's a look at three options in AAA right now who should probably be considered.

The three most obvious choices are Kris Wilson, Jorge DePaula, and Steven White.

Wilson's a 29(soon to be 30 year old) who has scuffled in the majors and minors and would be the best candidate for the role of Aaron Small fluke year. His career lines are mediocre to poor, until you get to his performance in 2006. The only scouting report I could find for Wilson describes him as having a low 90s fastball and a below average changeup. His big issue has been the HR ball (49 in 235 big league innings) but he's controlled that very well this year in AAA. It's very likely a fluke, but perhaps he's added a new pitch or changed his mechanics to get more groundballs. His minor league G/F ratio is 1.4, which is decent, if not outstanding.

Kris Wilson's minor and major league stats

Jorge DePaula looked like he was going to be a contributor to the Yankees in 2004 after an impressive cup of coffee in late 2003 including a near no-hitter against the Orioles at the Stadium. Unfortunately, DePaula suffered an injury that required Tommy John surgery and spend most of last year rehabbing his way back. He's been ok this season, although his K rate is pretty poor. My memories of Depaula were of a guy with a fastball in the 90-92 range mainly with a good changeup and not much of a breaking pitch.

Jorge DePaula's minor and major league stats

Steven White has the best pure stuff of any of the three options. I'll just repost Fabian's pre-season assessment of him (he's #19).

White is a big guy with a big fastball who some scouts project as a middle of the rotation workhorse. With no minor league evidence to backup the workhorse claim and without any incredibly impressive performance on his career ledger, at this point White is resting on the fact that he can throw a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s. He will begin the year at AA as the opening day starter, where hopefully he can improve on last year where he struggled with his control and got hit hard early only to succumb to injury and ineffectiveness until the last couple starts of the AA season. Despite the offensive-mindedness of the AFL, I’m not especially encouraged by White’s performance there either as he continued to have mediocre walk and strikeout rates considering his billing and I feel that is what he needs to correct to fulfill the potential scouts see in him.

White's pitched decently this season, although his peripherals are not that impressive.

Steven White's minor league stats

There's also Ramiro Mendoza, who's been more hittable of late in the minors after starting strong and has not been a full-time starter. He may be an option in relief, but probably not in the rotation.

I don't think any of the AA guys (Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, or Jeff Karstens) are ready, despite all pitching very well of late in AA. I think any Yankee fans are familiar with Hughes by now. Fabian's written some nice writeups about Clippard which you can read in the archives here. I like him long-term as a 4 or a 5 but I think he needs more time in the minors to refine his stuff. Karstens was horrible in AAA but has done quite well in AA. He's a guy with unremarkable stuff who has done well in the lower levels of the minors.

Based on current performance, I agree with Joseph P. over at the Sporting Brews that Wilson seems like the best choice, although his previous track record would give me pause. For upside, White is probably the better bet although I am not impressed by his K rate or BB rate. DePaula's only striking out 4.8 per 9 innings which seems to be a big red flag to me with the Yankee defense. The main thing is that any of them have a chance to be reasonably close to someone like Livan Hernandez, and wouldn't cost anything but a roster spot to try. I kind of like the idea of giving Wilson a chance to reprise the Aaron Small 2005 thing.

Apparently the Yankees agree that Wilson should get a chance. Peter Abraham is reporting that he's been called up.

Word is that RHP Kris Wilson has been summoned from Columbus and will be on the roster for tonight's game. No news yet on who is being demoted, released, designated or tossed in the river.

Wilson is a former Royal who the Yankees signed to a minor-league deal before last season. He is 6-5 with a 2.84 ERA for the Clippers, In 92 innings he allowed only 74 hits and struck out 72. He is nearly 30 and hasn't been in the majors since 2003.