WWJD broke the initial news of Rafael DePaula joining the Yankees a few weeks back, and I stumbled across this tidbit on him while mining my usual favorite spots on the web. This comes from today's Baseball America 'Ask BA' chat featuring Jim Callis, with the credit on the DePaula report going to fellow Callis' fellow BA writer Ben Badler:
In June 2010, BA assistant editor Ben Badler reported that DePaula had presented a new name (Jose Rafael DePaula) and birthdate (March 24, 1991, making him a year older than he originally stated). That November, he agreed to a $500,000 bonus from the Yankees, contingent upon him receiving a visa to enter the United States. That process took 16 months, during which he worked out at the Yankees' academy in the Dominican Republic.
More after the jump (including video!!!)...
Ben is our go-to guy on international affairs, and he says he'd grade DePaula as a 60/Extreme. On our Yankees Top 10 Prospects list, that would place DePaula in the midst of catcher Austin Romine (50/Low at No. 8), catcher/third baseman J.R. Murphy (55/High at No. 9) and outfielder Slade Heathcott (60/Extreme at No. 10). I'd err on the side of upside and put DePaula ahead of all of them.
Here are some more thoughts from Ben on DePaula:
His talent is legitimate. The fastball really is touching the high 90s, power curve, good body, good mechanics, he's just had an extremely atypical developmental path because of the suspension and visa issue. I don't stick my neck out much on the international amateur guys, but we did with Carlos Martinez at No. 3 for the Cardinals in 2011 and Miguel Sano at No. 4 for the Twins in 2010, and I think DePaula is that type of player. I don't like running up the 16-year-old signings much because there's still so much projection involved, but DePaula is 21 and has now stuff.
The thing that gets me most excited about DePaula is the talent comparison to Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez, who flew way under the radar leading up to the 2011 season before bursting on to the scene. Martinez has a similarly electric arsenal, and also got a late start in the professional ranks due to name and visa issues. He now ranks within the Top 50 of most industry top prospect lists, and currently sits as the #27 ranked prospect in baseball according to Baseball America.
Some recent video has surfaced of DePaula's first simulated appearance in the United States, and gives you a glimpse of the kind of stuff he possesses on the mound.
You can find additional footage of hitters he faced from the same simulated session at the links provided below:
I understand all international signings are lottery tickets that carry significant risk, and that DePaula is very raw and will need a ton of refinement before he ever reaches the majors. He'll need to prove his stuff can get professional hitters out, and that he has the body to withstand a starter's workload every fifth day. Despite it all though, I can't help but be extremely excited about what the future holds for this young righty.
He has the build and raw stuff to be an ace caliber pitching prospect, and those guys don't grow on trees. 2012 will be an important year for him, but if all goes well, he could find himself on the fast track to the majors with the hope of arriving in the next two to three years. It isn't crazy to think DePaula will be battling it out with Jose Campos to be the Yankees top pitching prospect heading into the 2013 season (assuming Banuelos and Betances graduate in 2012- which we certainly can't predict at this point).
The floor is yours, informed PSA readers. What are your thoughts on Rafael DePaula, and his future with the Yankees?