Rafael DePaula didn't get off to the best start as a professional baseball player – he was suspended for one year by MLB in 2009 after it was discovered that he was using a false name and birthdate. After having his real name and birthday confirmed, he was finally able to sign with the Yankees for $500,000 in 2010, but wasn't able to obtain a work visa after previously lying about his identity. In March of last year, DePaula was able obtain a visa at last and begin pitching for the Yankees in the Dominican Summer League, where he dominated with a 1.46 ERA over 14 starts.
Starting the 2013 season with the Charleston RiverDogs was DePaula's first taste of pitching in the United States, and he has responded by striking out 69 batters in 39.1 innings so far this year. His strikeout total leads the next closest pitcher in South Atlantic League by 12, and his ERA of 2.75 ranks in the league's top 20. You could easily argue that DePaula has performed well enough to earn a promotion to High-A Tampa, even if Mark Newman says that he doesn't think the team will be in any hurry to do so.
With all of the false identity and visa troubles, the Yankees could have decided that they were wasting their time and moved on to another prospect. The matter took so long to resolve, costing DePaula valuable development time, that it wouldn't have been unreasonable for the team to go in a different direction instead of waiting around. The Yankees stuck with DePaula, and he looks to be rewarding their faith in him by becoming one of the better pitching prospects the farm has to offer. I doubt very much that the team ends up sticking to the plan of leaving him in Charleston all season if he continues to pitch the way he has so far.
Prospects are a tricky business and pitching prospects are somehow even more finicky. The Yankees seem to have found a good one who could make a real impact for a long time to come. For fans that follow the minor leagues, it feels like an eternity spent sitting around waiting on guys to become everything we dream of. Waiting on DePaula to even arrive took a little longer than anyone would have liked, but it looks like he's making it worth everyone's while.