Yankee Prospect Watch 2012 (David Phelps)

Over the next couples weeks I am going to do a series called “Prospect Watch 2012” these players I feel are some that you may want to keep tabs on during the season in the minors.   Some will be names you know already some you may have heard of but don’t know much about.  I plan on giving you any and all rankings they have been apart of along with stats and tidbits of information.

David Phelps

Throws: Right

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 185

DOB: 10/9/86

Drafted by the Yankees in the 14th round of 2008 Draft.

Our very own Jamie Fisher ranked him 8th in his Top 40 Prospects of 2012. Here is what he said of him “Phelps is a winner who knows how to pitch. He’s 38-15 with a 2.61 ERA in his 4 years in the organization. He’s maintained the same solid numbers at every level including a 7.4 K/9 & 2.0 BB/9. Reminds me a little of Ian Kennedy. Missed time with shoulder issue but came back strong in August and was solid in AFL also.”

The Yankee Analysts are in agreement with Jamie as they have him ranked 8th as well. To check those rankings please click here.

John Sickels of Minor League Ball ranked him 7th and said this, “I like him more than most people do. Has developed the secondary pitches needed to off-set the fastball, and was one of the few pitchers who didn’t get killed in the Arizona Fall League. Could be a fourth starter if given a chance.”

Fangraphs has him much lower at 12th here is what they say, “Phelps gets the nod over Adam Warren because the former is more likely to stick in the starting rotation than the latter even if his fastball is not quite as powerful. Phelps has a four-pitch mix that includes a low-90s fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. He’ll probably never be more than a fill-in starter or long reliever for the Yankees so he really needs a trade, as he’s already 25 years old and will be returning to triple-A in 2012 for the third time. He suffered some shoulder problems in ’11 but he pitched in the Arizona Fall League and made eight starts.”

Mike Axisa at River Ave Blues has Phelps at 12th as well he said this, “The Yankees were leaning towards letting Phelps make his big league debut against the Rangers on June 16th, but they instead signed Brian Gordon after he’d opted out of his minor league contract with the Phillies. Phelps hit the DL a week later with shoulder tendinitis, which kept him on the shelf for a month and a half. He returned without a problem in early-August and had a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League (meaning he didn’t get his brains beat in like most pitchers), but the injury likely cost him the opportunity to pitch for the Yankees in 2011. The right-hander came close to repeating his 2010 performance (8.2 K/9 and 22.1 K% , 2.0 BB/9 and 5.6 BB%, 47% grounders) in Triple-A last year (7.5 K/9 and 20.0 K%, 2.2 BB/9 and 5.8 BB%, 40% grounders) if you give him a little wiggle room because of the shoulder. Phelps can sit in the 92-95 mph range with his fastball, backing it up with an array of solid but unspectacular secondary pitches: curveball, slider, changeup. He does a fine job of pounding the bottom of the zone and limiting walks, which he’ll need to keep doing to avoid a future in the bullpen. The Yankees added Phelps to the 40-man roster after the season to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, and he’ll be one of the very first called up whenever the big league team inevitably needs a starter.”


Year Lg W L ERA IP H R SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 SO/9
2008 NYPL 8 2 2.72 72.2 67 28 52 1.170 8.3 0.5 6.4
2009 SALL 10 3 2.80 112.2 117 48 90 1.260 9.3 0.7 7.2
2009 FLOR 3 1 1.17 38.1 34 9 32 1.043 8.0 0.2 7.5
2010 EL 6 0 2.04 88.1 63 21 84 0.974 6.4 0.2 8.6
2010 IL 4 2 3.07 70.1 76 31 57 1.265 9.7 0.5 7.3
2011 GULF 1 1 0.00 7.0 4 2 5 0.714 5.1 0.0 6.4
2011 IL 6 6 3.19 107.1 115 42 90 1.314 9.6 0.9 7.5
4 Seasons 38 15 2.61 496.2 476 181 410 1.184 8.6 0.6 7.4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/10/2012.

Video – Phelps striking out Nationals Prospect Bryce Harper

About Matthew S.

Avid Yankee fan since birth. I have been going to Yankee games with my father since i was young. I have many memories at YSII including many playoffs and world series games. I hope that you enjoy our blog. Comment often.

Posted on March 11, 2012, in Minor League Updates, Player Analysis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Very Good Matt…
    I think you did a great job linking others into the post, it seems like most have the same opinion of him even though they have him at different numbers.
    The thing I like is; if one reads it as it is written, they all agree David is the most ready to be called up but not the best pitcher in the minors, for us. His up-side is not as high as many others have.
    Good thunken matt! 🙂

    • Hi Ken. Great to see you posting again.
      Phelps doesn’t get the credit of, say a Betances, because he doesn’t have 1 pitch that wows you. However, Phelps has multiple pitches and attributes that profile as MLB average or above average, Often times, that combo of 4 average/above avg pitches along with good command, poise and mechanics is better than the guy with 2 potentially great pitches but question marks in all other phases.

      If we’ve learned from the Joba-Hughes-IPK trio, pitchability often wins out over raw velocity and when looking for long-term success and health, good mechanics are very important. Joba has fantastic arm speed but absolutely terrible mechanics. Hughes has OK mechanics but very strange arm action which doesn’t allow him to thrown downhill. Kennedy only throws in the 89-92 range but has the best mechanics, poise and command. He also has 5 quality pitches in the average to plus range.

      The more I see of Betances and Phelps, I’m beginning to think if someone put a gun to my head – I’d pick Phelps over Betances. Betances has 2 nice pitches but he still can’t repeat his motion and his command is not good. I hope he puts it all together this yr in AAA and this isn’t to rag on him – just meant to show love for Phelps.

      • Let’s not go over board will Kennedy, he had one great year last year. I would look for him to move more towards an average pitcher this year. Remember Dice-K, Lackey, and Jimenez all had great years.

        • I’m not going overboard by any means but merely pointing out that there is more to evaluating pitchers than looking at Radar Gun readings. Phelps has many of the same attributes as Kennedy and like IPK has been dominating at every level in the minors.

          Kennedy really broke out last yr with a Cy Young caliber year but he’s been a good pitcher his entire career except for the 30 something innings in his rookie yr with the Yanks.

          • fishjam, the step from AAA to the majors is a big step, while I agree that Phelps may be ready to take that step, I don’t see him pitching like Joba did when he came up. Greg Maduxx was the best pitcher of the last 20 years in my opionion, and he didn’t throw hard. Pitching varies so much from year to year, some surprise like Nova and Kennedy, and some dissapoint like Hughes and Lackey. Pitchers that are successful have some common assets, velocity, movement, deception, and location. Phelps has some of those attributes, whether they transfer into a good major league pitcher only time will tell.

            • Agree on all of your statements there. I just think often times people get carried away with velocity and upside. The guy with the great size and velocity will always be more attractive than the guy that gets outs with movement, command and pitchability.

              The important thing to remember is young pitchers are not finished products and often pitches like Cutters, splitters, 2-seamers and Changeups aren’t fully mastered until much later. Looking for a pitcher with good arm action, mechanics and the ability to adapt is vital as those attributes enable a pitcher to learn as he grows.

              IPK picked up the Cutter last yr and it was a big factor in his success. Nova mastered the slider which brought him to another level. Who knows how a pitcher will develop at the MLB level but guys like Joba and Hughes limit themselves with the way they throw and/or their mechanics.

              • Agreed, Robertson also picked up his cutter from Mo which really helped him. Pitchers that don’t throw a change up today are hurting themselves. That’s why Girardi wants Pineda to work on a change. Fireballers like Pineda have been used to blowing the ball by everyone. This is what hurt AJ besides his location. Rothchild knows what he’s doing so I think the Yanks are in good hands.

      • Fishjam…
        I can always count on you the make things very clear…thank you!
        Remember when they first came up (Joba-Phil-IPK) we had some very heated discussions on another site?
        One time I remember writing something like; Joba has the most power (FB) and good slider. Phil has good stuff but not as much power and a streight high Fastball. IPK is the guy with all the tools that a pitcher needs…except the fastball.
        Most fans agreed with Joba and Phil but most said IPK was not very good and didn’t even know how bad he was.
        Well, I don’t know if anyone thought as did I, but it was a lot of fun.
        Oh, I forgot one thing…I think I said, about IPK…He could be a middle starter in the NL or a Long reliever/spot starter for NYY’s.
        As you said Fishjam; I also, will agree with your assessment of IPK and my thoughts when grading a top line pitcher

    • thanks for the kind words Ken.

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