Meet Vidal, Kelvin, and the 2013 Non-Roster Invitee Pitchers, N-Z

NRI lefty Josh Spence hopes to avoid being sent down (under). - Kent Horner

Let's get Nuding and check out the rest of the non-roster invitee pitchers invited to Spring Training.

Continuing the breakdown of non-roster invitees from two days ago, here are the rest of the non-roster invitee pitchers coming to Spring Training in a couple weeks.

Starting Pitchers

Zach Nuding, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 23 (born 3/29/1990)
2012 (Rk/A+): 17 GS, 100 IP, 9-3, 3.51 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 1.320 WHIP, 8.8 H/9, 3.1 BB/9, 6.9 K/9

Nuding has a tremendous physical presence on the mound at 6’4" and 250 pounds (pause?). An extremely-late 30th round draft pick in 2010 out of little-known Weatherford College in Texas, Nuding spent most of last year with High-A Tampa, where he showed off a mid-to-high 90s fastball, a slider, and a changeup in his arsenal. He demonstrated better control than most pitchers his age with a 2.7 BB/9 in 85.2 Tampa innings, but he also got rocked in the Arizona Fall League last year when his walk rate and hit rate slipped. How Nuding fares in Spring Training could determine whether he stays south in Tampa to a league he has already pitched well in or goes up north to Double-A Trenton. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Vidal Nuno, LHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 25 (born 7/26/1987)
2012 (A+/AA): 31 G, 21 GS, 138.1 IP, 10-6, 2.54 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 1.186 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 2.1 BB/9, 8.2 K/9

And you thought Nuding was a late pick. Nuno was originally selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 48th round of the ’09 MLB Draft, the 1,445th pick overall. This round was the same one in which the Yankees used a pick on then-West Viriginia University quarterback Pat White. The Tribe cut him loose after a poor 2010 in Low-A, and he actually began the next season with the Independent Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League before the Yankees gave him a shot. Nuno developed an impressive changeup to go with his fastball, curveball, and slider, and he allowed only 10 earned runs in 65 innings with Staten Island and Charleston. Nuno pitched well in a bullpen role with Tampa at the start of 2012, and then was promoted to the Double-A Trenton rotation in late May, where he put up a fine season. At 25 though, it’s "getting late early" for Nuno, and the Yankees will hope he keeps up the good work, whether it be in Trenton or Scranton. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Mikey O’Brien, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 23 (born 3/3/1990)
2012 (A+/AA): 37 G, 25 GS, 142 IP, 9-8, 3.47 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 1.359 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 3.3 BB/9, 6.6 K/9

O’Brien was an ‘08 ninth round pick out of Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke, Virginia, and his development has not exactly gone at warp speed. It took him a pair of seasons to escape Rookie League, and he only reached Double-A Trenton last May after a little over two years with Staten Island, Charleston, and Tampa. O’Brien has a small frame, and his fastball comes in at the low-90s with a good curveball to complement it. He has other pitches, but those are his best, so it seems like a move to the bullpen sometime soon might be an idea. He had a 4.20 ERA and 4.04 FIP with a decent 3.34 BB/9 in 20 games at Double-A following his promotion. O’Brien will begin 2013 in Trenton and hope to make a solid impression on the Yankees in Spring Training. He pitches through diabetes, so it’s very easy to support him. (Video 1)

Matt Tracy, LHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 24 (born 11/26/1988)
2012 (A+/AAA): 19 GS, 104 IP, 6-7, 3.20 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 1.279 WHIP, 7.9 H/9, 3.6 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

This Mississippi southpaw was a late 24th round pick by the Yankees in 2011, a mediocre college player that they gambled on due to his size (6’3", 212 lbs.). The organization adjusted his mechanics slightly, and Tracy impressed them with 47.1 innings of 3.04 ERA/2.65 FIP baseball in Short-Season Staten Island. The Yankees liked him so much that they had him skip Low-A Charleston and move into the High-A Tampa rotation, where he spent the season outside of a September 2nd cameo in Triple-A. Tracy’s fastball reaches the mid-90s with some nice late break; he complements it with a well-controlled changeup and a quickly-developing 12-6 curve. He should have a shot at breaking camp with Trenton after a commendable season in Tampa. (Video 1)

Relievers

Kelvin Perez, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 27 (born 10/10/1985)
2012 (AA/AAA): 48 G, 85.2 IP, 1.58 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 1.191 WHIP, 6.5 H/9, 4.2 BB/9, 8.5 K/9

Maybe I was too harsh on O’Brien’s speed in reaching Double-A; it took Perez five full years before finally making it to Trenton. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in ’06, Perez was a starter, but arm issues forced him to primarily a relief role in 2010 at Charleston. He had a fair first season in the role, but ’11 was a step back. He walked an ugly 5.7 per nine while mostly at Charleston, and his ERA was 5.01 overall in 70 innings. The Yankees put Perez at Double-A to begin 2012 anyway, and he had a sparkly 1.14 ERA there in 71.1 innings, even while still struggling with control. He features a 92-94 mph fastball, a low 80s slider with surprising break, and a changeup. Perez finished 2012 with Scranton, so it seems likely that he will head there after camp as he dreams of finally making his big-league debut. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Branden Pinder, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 24 (born 1/26/1989)
2012 (A+/AA): 42 G, 69 IP, 2.74 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 1.449 WHIP, 9.3 H/9, 3.8 BB/9, 8.7 K/9

The Yankees’ draft class in 2011 sure boasted a nice trio of relievers in the previously-discussed Mark Montgomery and Nick Goody as well as Cal State’s Pinder. He was mostly a starter at the college level, but the Yankees made him the closer for Short-Season Staten Island. It turned out to be a sound decision, as he saved 14 games with a dominant 1.16 ERA and 0.677 WHIP. Pinder subsequently began last season in High-A Tampa setting up for Montgomery, eventually earning the closer’s job upon Montie’s promotion, and made a 1.1 inning cameo in Trenton to end the year. Like Montie, Pinder relies on a fastball/slider combination—his fastball sits in the mid-90s and the slider typically comes in at the high-70s, a fine strikeout pitch. It would probably behoove the Yankees to make Goody the Tampa closer, Pinder the Trenton closer, and Montie the Scranton closer to begin the season, but we’ll see. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Ryan Pope, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 26 (born 5/21/1986)
2012 (AA): 46 G, 64 IP, 4.64 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 1.531 WHIP, 11.8 H/9, 2.0 BB/9, 9.3 K/9

"El Papa" has bounced around the Yankees’ system since ’07, when he was a third-round pick and a starter. The Yanks made him a reliever following an underwhelming season in the ’09 Trenton rotation and a poor start to ’10, and he had a 3.61 ERA in 39 games following the switch, which impressed the Yankees enough to protect him on their 40-man roster. There he stayed until September 2011, when the Yankees removed him after a disastrous 14-game, 8.14 ERA stint in Triple-A. Last year was Pope’s fourth in a row at Trenton—few players spend that many minor league seasons in a row at the same level and get anywhere. While Pope doesn’t walk opposing batters, he’s very hittable. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Josh Spence, LHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 25 (born 1/22/1988)
2012 (MLB): 11 G, 10.1 IP, 4.35 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.742 WHIP, 11.3 H/9, 4.4 BB/9, 8.7 K/9
(AAA): 31 G, 49.1 IP, 4.20 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.378 WHIP, 8.8 H/9, 3.6 BB/9, 6.6 K/9

The resident Australian of Yankee camp, Spence was claimed off waivers from the San Diego Padres on November 6th and designated for assignment shortly thereafter when the Yanks signed Kevin Youkilis. Spence will still be coming to camp with the Yankees though, and he has 40 innings of MLB relief experience to his name. It was a quick rise to the pros for Spence, selected in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Arizona State, as he was promoted from Double-A San Antonio after posting a 2.14 ERA in 71 total minor league innings. While the Padres did not use him as a LOOGY at all, Spence has been far better against lefties than righties in the pros: .158/.247/.237 vs. .224/.376/.313. He’s struggled with control of his fastball/slider/changeup combination in the pros, but his stellar lefty splits should allow him to at least challenge Clay Rapada for a potential spot as the bullpen’s second lefty. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Chase Whitley, RHP
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 23 (born 6/14/1989)
2012 (AA/AAA): 43 G, 84.1 IP, 3.09 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 1.055 WHIP, 6.6 H/9, 2.9 BB/9, 7.8 K/9

The last of the pitchers did not actually become one until his junior year at Troy University in Alabama. Whitley turned some heads and was then taken by the Yankees in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He moved quickly, spending about half a season each at Staten Island, Tampa, and Trenton before joining the Traveling Roadshow in Triple-A on April 13th of last season. Scouts consider Whitley’s changeup his best pitch, and former Padres great Trevor Hoffman demonstrated that if mastered, that’s all one needs out of the ‘pen. Whitley also has a low-90s fastball, and the fastball/change combination might give him an outside shot at a bullpen spot. More than likely though, he will begin 2013 looking to improve further with Scranton. (Video 1) (Video 2)

Next up: Catchers—Francisco Arcia, Kyle Higashioka, J.R. Murphy, Gary Sanchez, and Bobby Wilson. I know you’re excited about Bobby Wilson, but you will just have to hang in there.

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