As Larry posted this morning, the Yankees called up Hector Noesi to fill Luis Ayala‘s roster spot. He will (for now) pitch in the bullpen. With no Yankees coming off the DL for at least the next week or two, he should spend a decent amount of time with the team.
Noesi was an international signing all the way back in 2004. He showed promise early in his career, but a combination of inexperience and injuries limited his playing time. He had just a handful of professional American innings before going down with Tommy John surgery. His return was delayed by a 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy (it was not performance-enhancing related. Rumor at the time was that he had tested positive for a prescription drug), but he grew into a top prospect faster than anyone suspected. His statistics from Baseball-Reference:
You can see that he’s a K/BB master: 5.50 lifetime, well over 6.00 since he broke out in 2009. He throws a fastball in the 90-92 mph range, although he can dial it up higher on a good day. His real weapon is a true Bugs Bunny-changeup – probably the best non-Edwar Ramirez changeup the Yankee system has seen in a very long time. Unlike Edwar though, Noesi has the fastball and control to really use it to his advantage. He’s not going to get hit as hard as Ramirez did, but he’ll allow home runs. He accomplishes it all with a great-looking, simple motion that we all saw in Spring Training. His breaking pitch selection isn’t as good, but he’ll throw a curveball every now and then that can be pretty good. That’s the number one thing he’s working on.
I’ve been very clear that I’m a huge Noesi fan. I think that a MLB bullpen stint would be very good for him long-term. He’s the kind of guy who needs to be tested against advanced hitters (since he’s fundamentally about picking the best location and putting the ball there), and doesn’t have the lengthy Triple-A experience he needs. A short bullpen stint would give him that experience in small doses. Plus, he’s better than Luis Ayala.
I’m a little bit concerned about him staying in the bullpen for any lengthy period of time. Hector Noesi is a really good starting pitching prospect. He doesn’t have the ceiling of the Killer B’s, but he’s the kind of guy who could be a productive member of the Yankee rotation for years – I’ve compared him to James Shields in the past. For about a year and half, when the Yankee brass comments on Noesi, they use some variant of the line, “That guy’s definitely going to start in the major leagues for a very long time.” He’s fundamentally sound in the best way. He’d probably be pretty successful in an Aceves/Mendoza swingman role, but he’s a starting pitcher. If he does well for the Yankees this year, they may be tempted to do what they did with Alfredo Aceves: keep him in the bullpen and have him pitch the middle innings of a game. That would be a mistake.
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