Phelps Secures Role On Yankees' Staff
NEW YORK—Righthander David Phelps didn't bathe in the publicity that Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances received moving through the Yankees system.
Yet at the start of the season, Banuelos and Betances were at Triple-A Empire State, and Phelps was in the Yankees' bullpen.
A starter throughout his minor league career, which began in 2008 when he was drafted in the 14th round out of Notre Dame, the 25-year-old Phelps made the big league team in part because Michael Pineda went on the disabled list with a balky shoulder. Had Pineda made the club, a starter—Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia—would have likely been in the bullpen.
"I think he can do what (Hector) Noesi did for us in 2011," vice president Mark Newman said.
Noesi appeared in 30 games last season and started two, but the Yankees traded him and Jesus Montero to the Mariners for Pineda and righthander Jose Campos in the offseason. Phelps' first four appearances came in relief, and he had allowed four runs in 12 innings, with 11 strikeouts and three walks.
While he has enough velocity on a fastball that reaches 93 mph, location is his strength. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Phelps' success in 2010 affirmed the Yankees' belief that they had a big leaguer. That year he logged a cumulative 159 innings for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, making 25 starts and going 10-2, 2.50 with 141 strikeouts.
"When he pitched well at that level you thought he had a shot," Newman said.
• Outfielder Slade Heathcott's return from right shoulder surgery has him on track for a mid-June debut. "He is getting better, he is throwing and swinging, and it looks like midseason," Newman said.
• The Yankees placed Banuelos on the Empire State disabled due to a strained lat muscle issue in his back. Banuelos got off to a rough start, allowing six runs and 21 baserunners in 51⁄3 innings.