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December 20, 2006

by Fabian

Steven White, RHP, 25
Previously Ranked: 19th prior to 2006, 8th prior to 2005
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 20th, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels N/R

Physical Ability: Steven White is one of many big right-handed pitchers in the Yankee organization. The Baylor University product stands 6’5’’ and weighs in at 205 pounds. With his large frame comes a big fastball that regularly runs in around the low to mid 90s. While you wouldn’t call White a sinkerballer, per se, he does throw a heavy fastball. In addition to the fastball, White throws a serviceable curveball and a serviceable change-up. Neither pitch is consistent for him and both could use work, but for now they are enough to get by with.

What Happened in ’06: I criticized White prior to the season for not having lived up to his scouting reputation to that point of his career. White then essentially went out and made me look foolish, were the Yankee system not much deeper now than it was at the outset last year, his ranking would have shown as much. The first concern that White dealt with was the issue of scouts having always viewed him as an innings-eater despite his previous professional career high in innings being 117.1. This year he averaged over 6 innings a start in order to total 175.1 for the year. This total may have even been higher had he not struggled at times in AAA because unlike their other hurlers, the Yankees had no problem allowing White to go over 100 pitches. Given his age and frame, I have no issue with this strategy. The other issue White dealt with was his performance. All things considered, White performed well in 2006, striking out a decent amount of guys, keeping the ball on the ground and in the park. The one real fault in his overall game was that he still struggled with his control from time to time. By way of Yankee of interviews with Yankee officials courtesy of Pinstripes Plus, it seems this is more an issue of confidence than it is a physical problem. Corroborating that is that White’s walks in 2006 did seem to come in bunches.

What Lies Ahead: White’s Columbus ERA was not great, but some of that can be attributed to luck on balls in play (similar to how he wasn’t as good at Trenton as his ERA there would indicate). In addition, as has been established, his control DOES need to improve. The final concern in his game to be addressed would be that he struggles against left-handed batters. These struggles can be explained by the consistency he needs to develop with his secondary pitches. Lefty hitters are simply sitting fastball and ripping away, which is producing powerful results. White should begin 2007 in the Columbus rotation as one of many RHPs who could potentially be called up to help out the big league squad.

Grade: I am not a huge White fan. He has some glaring holes in his prospect status in terms of left-handed batters and walks. At the same time, thanks to a sexy fastball, if everything works out he could be a mid rotation workhorse, which I doubted much more last year than I do now. I’m not sure he has the repertoire to be able to fall back on a bullpen role like many other guys with big fastballs do, so he is somewhat of a boom or bust proposition. C+

Tim Norton #19