Yankees' Noesi Melds Velocity With Pinpoint Control





NEW YORK—Every organization falls in love with its pitching prospects, especially with those who throw hard.

But often that velocity comes with control issues. If he throws strikes, he can be special. How many times have you heard that refrain?

Yet, with Hector Noesi, a 23-year-old righthander who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, the Yankees believe they have an arm capable of coupling a 95 mph fastball with excellent control.

"He is an interesting character," farm director Mark Newman said. "He has arm strength and throws strikes. He can do a lot of stuff."

Right on cue, Noesi began the season by going 5-2, 2.72 in eight starts for high Class A Tampa, striking out 53 and walking six in 43 innings. Opposing batters hit a paltry .212, so New York promoted him to Double-A Trenton in mid-May.

"His changeup is really good, the curveball is good and the slider is coming," Newman said.

Noesi has progressed rapidly since his rocky 2007 campaign, in which he sandwiched five appearances for low Class A Charleston around a 50-game suspension to start the year and season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June.

After spending a year to recover his health and stuff, Noesi firmly established himself as a prospect in 2009. He boasted a 2.92 ERA and 118-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 117 innings and made it to Tampa in the second half. The Yankees duly added him to the 40-man roster in the offseason.

"He was good at the end of last year in the Florida State League, and we wanted to give him six or seven more (starts) there this year," Newman said.

Big league pitching coach Dave Eiland was impressed in the limited time he saw the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Noesi in spring training.

"Him and (Ivan) Nova were two guys who stood out for me," Eiland said, even though Noesi ran up a 9.95 ERA in five spring games.

YANKEE DOODLES

• The Yankees assigned catcher J.R. Murphy to Charleston. The 2009 second-round pick had been working in extended spring training. The stated plan was to allow Murphy time to get accustomed to the lights and regular stadiums before sending him to short-season Staten Island in June.

• To make room for Murphy, New York demoted third baseman Garrison Lassiter to extended spring after he got off to a .102/.223/.114 start through 88 at-bats. He signed for $675,000 as a 27th-round pick in 2008.