- Full name Justin Louis Chamberlain
- Born 09/23/1985 in Lincoln, NE
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 245 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Nebraska
- Debut 08/07/2007
Drafted in the C-A round (41st overall) by the New York Yankees in 2006 (signed for $1,150,000).
View Draft ReportChamberlain's success story is hard to fathom. He didn't pitch until his senior season in high school, and he spent his freshman year of college going 3-6, 5.23 for Nebraska-Kearney, an NCAA Division II program. He had minor knee surgery after transferring to Nebraska in the fall of 2004, dropped 25 pounds and emerged as a star for the Cornhuskers. He pitched them to the College World Series in 2005 and is a good bet to do so again this year. Slowed by triceps tendinitis that caused him to miss a couple of starts early this spring, he has been more inconsistent than he was as a sophomore. But he's rounding back into peak form, which for Chamberlain means throwing a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 97 and a devastating slider. He also has a curveball and feel for a changeup. Once he turns pro his fastball should chew up wood bats. His stuff may not be quite as good as that of Luke Hochevar and Max Scherzer, but Chamberlain has better makeup and should come with a lower price tag. A member of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska, Chamberlain will become the highest-drafted Native American ever when he goes in the first 10 picks.
Organization Prospect Rankings
In 2004, Chamberlain was a 272-pound starter at NCAA Division II Nebraska-Kearney, and he went just 3-6, 5.23. Chamberlain started getting in shape, though, and his fastball started reaching the low 90s by the end of his freshman season. He then transferred to Nebraska, where he kept improving and led his hometown Cornhuskers to the 2005 College World Series. While his talent made him a consensus top prospect for the 2006 draft, his stock fell because of concerns about a knee injury that required surgery in the fall of 2004. He fell to the Yankees with the 41st overall pick and signed for $1.15 million. A member of the Winnebago tribe, he became the second-highest Native American ever drafted, behind only Jacoby Ellsbury. After signing, Chamberlain reported to Hawaii Winter Baseball, where he ranked as the No. 1 prospect in his first pro action. Chamberlain had a mild hamstring pull last spring and didn't make his pro debut until May, then made the minor leagues look easy. After breezing through high Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, Chamberlain moved to the bullpen to help the Yankees fill a big league need. He made the majors look easy too. Only Mother Nature could stop him. He coughed up a 2-1 lead against the Indians in Game Three of the Division Series after he was swarmed by midges and lost his focus. Scouts chuckle with delight discussing Chamberlain's raw stuff, and several give him 70 or 80 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for three different pitches. He reached 100 mph with his fastball 100 mph as a reliever, and more impressively can sit at 96-97 mph when he starts. His fastball command grades at least major league average, if not higher. He also commands two breaking balls--a mid-80s slider with depth and a nasty power curveball in the low 80s. Both are strikeout pitches, and he's adept at keeping his hand on top of the curve and behind the slider. He showed a solid-average changeup as a starter. Chamberlain's arm action is clean, and his personality and confidence make him well-suited for New York. Chamberlain will need to keep his weight in check, which would help him avoid any recurrence of his past knee, hamstring or triceps tendinitis issues. He needs to maintain the mechanical improvements he has made as a pro, which keep him more balanced and direct his energy toward the plate, rather than side-to-side. There's almost no room for improvement with his pitches, though he must prove he can maintain his stuff through a full season. His career high for innings remains the 119 he threw for Nebraska as a sophomore. While he could become an elite closer almost immediately, Chamberlain fits the No. 1 starter profile in nearly every way except for his durability. If the Yankees were only thinking of his development, they would limit him to 170 innings or so. He's likely to pitch so well as to tempt new manager Joe Girardi to use him more than that, however. If he remains healthy, Chamberlain has multiple all-star appearances in his future.
Chamberlain was hardly a pedigreed prospect as an amateur. He started pitching as a high school senior and went 3-6, 5.23 as a freshman for NCAA Division II Nebraska-Kearney. He transformed himself after transferring to Nebraska in Lincoln, having knee surgery, losing 25 pounds and blossoming into a dominant starter. When the Yankees drafted him 41st overall, he became the highest-drafted Native American ever. Chamberlain throws four pitches for strikes, and his fastball is his go-to pitch. It sat at 94-97 mph during the Hawaii Winter Baseball season, where he was named the top prospect in the league, and he throws it for quality strikes. His slider at times has depth and tilt and can be above-average, while his curveball and changeup are also solid. Projected to go in the first 10 picks, Chamberlain fell in the draft because of health questions. He missed time in the spring with triceps tendinitis, and his knee surgery and previous weight problems also scared off some clubs. He'll have to maintain his current body to maintain his stuff. Chamberlain has the best combination of power and polish among 2006 Yankees draftees and will move quickly if healthy. He'll start 2007 in high Class A and should move quickly.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the New York Yankees in 2008
- Rated Best Curveball in the New York Yankees in 2008
- Rated Best Fastball in the New York Yankees in 2008
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Florida State League in 2007
- Rated Best Fastball in the New York Yankees in 2007