2014 Baseball America Top 100 Prospects: The 25th Edition
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Trenton’s Matt DeSalvo has gone from not being drafted to an all-star in two years.
Signed by the Yankees out of Marietta (Ohio) College as a nondrafted free agent in 2003, DeSalvo went 5-3, 3.56 in the first half, earning a spot on the Eastern League all-star team. He lost his last start at Akron, dropping a 1-0 pitchers’ duel with Dan Denham, to fall to 6-4, 3.13 overall. His ERA is good for eighth in the league, and with 95 strikeouts in 95 innings, he also ranks eighth. Opponents are batting just .214 against him, though he has allowed 43 walks.
DeSalvo, who set the NCAA all-division records for career wins (53) and strikeouts (603), came into this season 13-8, 2.28 in 31 professional games, all as a starter. He has missed three starts this season with back spasms but remains one of the Yankees’ better starting pitching prospects due to his consistent ability to miss bats.
We caught up with the 24-year-old righthander at last week's Eastern League All-Star Game in Portland, Maine to talk about his all-star berth and his approach on the mound.
On becoming an All-Star two years after being signed as a nondrafted free agent: “The not being drafted thing is something I get all the time, but I'm over that. I'm not the kind of guy who has an ego of, ‘You don't know who I am?’ What my teammates and the Yankee organization think is what counts.”
On his secondary pitches being referred to as fringy: “I don't care what people say as long as I get outs. My success is determined by me and the team, not someone saying my curve is too loopy or my changeup not very good.”
On his knuckle-curve: “I basically just spike my (index) finger on the ball. I never knew how to throw it correctly until last year when one of my teammates showed it to me late in the season”
On his repertoire: “I throw seven different pitches: a four-seamer, a two-seamer, a cutter, the curve, a slider, a forkball, and a change. Having a lot of pitches gives me backup options.
“It's weird how a pitcher can sometimes forget the feel on a certain pitch. A change of scenery with how I hold the ball in my hand can be the adjustment I need to make. As for pitch selection, certain pitches do certain things, and a called strike at the knees isn't usually the same pitch you're looking to bury someone with.”
On whether he’d describe himself as a power pitcher: “What is a power pitcher? I don't have a power fastball, but are guys with more strikeouts than innings pitched not power pitchers because they don't have what is considered good stuff? To me, a power pitcher is a guy with desire who makes pitches and refuses to lose. If I tried to throw 95 mph, my arm would probably fly into the stands like a broken bat. But I can get hitters out. Maybe a good word to describe me would be ‘tricky.’”
On whether pitching is more psychology or more math: “It's both. Isn't math psychology? If you're at bat, you're going to adjust to what I'm throwing you. If I throw you the same pitch two times in a row, in a certain zone, what are the chances I'll throw a third? Isn't it more likely I'm going to add or subtract, or go to another spot? But what if I don't? Do I have you thinking about that?”
On his goals for the second half of the season: “I want to follow a bad outing with a good one, and I'd like to have my ERA in a certain place. Let's just say I have acute goals and chronic goals.”
• Dodgers righthander Chad Billingsley had his longest outing of his pro career Monday, going eight shutout innings in Double-A Jacksonville's 7-0 win against Tennessee. Billingsley, who has lasted seven innings in three separate starts this year, struck out 10, walked one and allowed just two hits to improve to 8-4, 4.05 with 120 strikeouts in 102 innings. He got plenty of support from Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young, who hit their seventh and 15th home runs of the year, respectively, at Jacksonville. LaRoche, who had been in a 2-for-30 slump, now has 28 on the season between high Class A Vero Beach and Jacksonville.
• Marlins righthander Yorman Bazardo won his third straight decision, allowing three runs on five hits over six innings in Double-A Carolina's 5-3 win against Chattanooga. Bazardo has not yielded more than four earned runs in a start all year, and he improved to 8-6, 3.79.
• Make it eight home runs in the past seven games for Nationals third baseman Kory Casto, who went deep for the 20th time this year and 11th time this month in high Class A Potomac's 5-1 win against Myrtle Beach. Casto wasn't the only player in that game to homer for the second consecutive day; Pelicans catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a solo shot a day after hitting two homers against Winston-Salem.
• Orioles top prospect Nick Markakis and No. 5 prospect Jeff Fiorentino both homered for high Class A Frederick, but Kinston's Mike Conroy outdid them both, driving in five runs on a pair of doubles and a homer in the K-Tribe's 9-3 win. Conroy, the 43rd overall pick in the 2001 draft out of Boston College High in Dorchester, Mass., has caught fire in his last four games, going 8-for-13 with two home runs and eight RBIs. The 22-year-old is hitting .233-5-15 in 103 at-bats for Kinston.
• We don't want to jinx it, but Casey Kotchman might be awakening from his season-long power slumber. The Angels first baseman went 3-for-3 Monday with two walks and his eighth homer for Triple-A Salt Lake. After hitting .192 in April, the 22-year-old is hitting .314 since, and his once nonexistent power has been coming around, as he has five homers in July and 13 extra-base hits on the month to raise his season line to .285/.368/.423.
• Jeff Allison continues to cobble together a decent season for Greensboro, at least when put in context of what he has gone through. The 20-year-old allowed three runs over seven innings while fanning five. His biggest problem this season has been walks (22 in 46 innings) and that continued last night as he gave out five free passes. The Marlins righthander is now 2-3, 4.14 with 38 strikeouts and four home runs allowed. One of those homers came last night as Asheville's Joe Koshansky proved he can hit home runs away from home too as he connected for his 27th in helping lead the Tourists to a 4-3 victory.
• While a number of recently drafted pitchers who worked heavily in college are pitching an inning or two here and there in the short-season leagues, Padres righthander Cesar Carrillo is having no problems with an assignment to the high Class A Lake Elsinore. The 18th overall pick out of Miami earned his first pro win on Monday night, spinning seven innings and allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out six in the Storm’s 9-2 win over Rancho Cucamonga.
• Yankees righthander Philip Hughes pitched five shutout innings last night in High Class A Tampa’s 1-0 loss to St. Lucie on Monday. The 2004 first-round pick, who went 7-1, 1.97 in 12 starts for low Class A Charleston, has a 2.13 ERA in 12 2/3 Florida State League innings, allowing just four hits and three walks while striking out 16.
• Devil Rays righthander Wade Davis, a 2004 third-round pick, delivered his second consecutive double-digit strikeout game for short-season Hudson Valley, whiffing 10 over seven innings while allowing one run on three hits in the Renegades’ 4-1 win over Auburn. On the season, Davis is 4-0, 1.70 in 42 1/3 innings, while limiting New York-Penn league batters to a .177 average.
• Koby Clemens has had impressive first week of professional baseball. After going hitless in his first game, he has hit safely in his last six. He had his best game yet on Monday as he went 3-for-5 with his first professional homer (a grand slam no less) in helping lead Rookie-level Greeneville to a 12-5 victory over Johnson City. Teammate Eli Iorg, a 2005 supplemental first-rounder out of Tennessee, also hit his first pro homer as he went 2-for-4.
• After surrendering 15 earned runs in his last three starts, Twins second-year lefty Jeff Schoenbachler snapped his slump with six strong innings in a win against the Red Sox in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Monday. Minnesota’s fifth-round draft choice from Reno (Nev.) High in 2004, Schoenbachler struck out eight with one earned run, a walk and six hits.
• Mike Broadway picked up his first win as a professional with three scoreless innings of relief work in the GCL Monday. A fourth-round pick by the Braves from Pope County High in Golcondo, Ill., this year, Broadway was one of four righthanders to combine on a four-hit shutout against the Tigers.
• The top third of the GCL Pirates batting order combined for seven hits and eight runs in the Pirates 15-5 win over the Reds. Maiko Loyola, 20, Eddie Prasch, 19 and Andrew McCutchen, 18, have keyed consecutive wins and a team average of .262, fourth-best in the league. McCutchen, the Pirates’ first-round pick this year, went 3-for-3 Monday and is batting .294-0-12 with 15 walks and 13 strikeouts in 68 at-bats.