- Full name Eduardo Michelle Núñez
- Born 06/15/1987 in Santo Domingo Centro, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 195 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School American Military Academy
- Debut 08/19/2010
Organization Prospect Rankings
Nunez went five years between appearances on our Yankees Top 10, ranking No. 6 after his first season in the United States in 2005 before struggling for the next three years. When he began maturing and working harder late in the 2008 season, his tools started to play on the diamond. He got his first big league callup in 2010, including a spot on the postseason roster after Mark Teixeira went down with a hamstring injury. Nunez profiles well at shortstop. His best tool remains his plus-plus arm that allows him to make highlight plays from the hole, though he tends to rely on it too much, which can lead to passivity and errors. He has improved his footwork and plays with more confidence at short, where he's an above-average defender. Nunez's plus speed is his next-best tool, and he should steal 20 bases annually. His speed and ability to make contact should allow him to hit for a solid average, though he lacks selectivity and has fringy power. Nunez also saw time at second and third base in 2010, and he worked out in the outfield in instructional league. The Yankees see him in the Chone Figgins mold as a utility player, though he was in line to take over had Derek Jeter departed as a free agent.
Nunez ranked No. 6 on this list after his first year in the United States in 2005, when he starred as the thirdyoungest position player in the New York-Penn League. He faltered for the next three seasons before finding success again in 2009, when most scouts considered him Trenton's best position player. The Yankees added him to their 40-man roster after the season. Nunez has athletic ability and good all-around tools. He's a free swinger who may not have the plate discipline to bring his solid power out on a consistent basis. He made good strides with the bat last season, though, making more consistent contact. He has above-average speed but doesn't always make the best decisions on the basepaths. Nunez has the size, strength and quickness to play shortstop. His arm is his best tool, though it sometimes gets him into trouble on defense when he tries to make plays he shouldn't. His lack of concentration also contributed to 33 errors in 120 games at short last year, and he must improve at making routine plays to be an everyday option there. Nunez profiles better as a utilityman at the big league level. He'll work on polishing his rough edges in Triple-A this year, when he could see more time at second base, third base and the outfield.
Nunez hit just .215 in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2004, but his bat sizzled in the short-season New-York Penn League, even though he was the league's third-youngest position player. For a teenage middle infielder, not to mention an inexperienced Dominican, Nunez has an advanced feel for hitting that allowed him to skip the Gulf Coast League. He has a level, smooth swing from both sides of the plate and projects to hit for average power. Nunez has a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and good hands defensively. He's also an above-average runner but has shaky footwork at shortstop, and some question whether he'll have the range or mobility to stay there. He might have to move to second base or the outfield. To fulfill his power projections, he'll have to get stronger. Nunez was so impressive at Staten Island and the organization is so bereft of shortstops that he'll jump to high Class A in 2006. He may have to switch positions eventually, in deference to Derek Jeter ahead of him and C.J. Henry behind him.
Minor League Top Prospects
After an erratic track record in the lower minors, Nunez put together his second fine season in a row at higher levels. Managers rated him the best defensive shortstop and infield arm in the IL, and he made just 10 errors in 101 games at short. He makes difficult plays in the hole and on the run look easy. "He's a very athletic shortstop," Sarbaugh said. "I saw him last year too and really liked the way he played the game." Derek Jeter becomes a free agent at season's end, but Nunez is more likely to fill a utility role for the Yankees. He's a bottom-of-the-order who makes contact but doesn't draw many walks or hit for much power. He's an above-average runner and stole 23 bases in 28 attempts.
Though Nunez was just 18 and making his U.S. debut, they skipped him past the GCL and sent him to Staten Island. He justified their enthusiasm by hitting much better than anticipated while flashing an electrifying, albeit sometimes erratic, glove at shortstop. A switch-hitter, Nunez showed aptitude from both sides of the plate. He already has some pop and will have more as he fills out his 6-foot, 155-pound frame. Early on, Nunez liked to show off his plus arm from shortstop, resulting in throws in the dirt. He calmed down and reduced his errors in the second half of the season. Though still raw, Nunez could be fast-tracked to high Class A next year if the Yankees send 2005 first-rounder C.J. Henry to low Class A.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the New York Yankees in 2011
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the New York Yankees in 2011
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the International League in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive SS in the International League in 2010
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the New York Yankees in 2010
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the New York Yankees in 2006