BBD Prospect nickname: RDP
Ever since news broke about Rafael DePaula finally obtaining his visa, there has been a lot of excitement surrounding him. He represents an intriguing option who, given his age and stuff, could be a very quick mover through the Yankees system and could bolster the minor league system and help to fill the void that Jesus Montero left.
Since signing with the Yankees November 19, 2010, DePaula has not thrown a single pitch for any of the affiliated minor league teams. This is because the contract he signed is dependent on a resolution to his visa issues, which have been ongoing since he gave a fraudulent birth certificate to the United States government on his arrival here. He was signed for $500,000, and has been waiting on his visa since signing, probably before that.
At long last the US government has granted DePaula his visa. DePaula could take the organization by storm, as no one seems to know much about him. He has spent the last year or so working out of the Yankees baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. He’s received plenty of instruction there, but wasn’t even allowed to participate in the DSL because his contract with the Yankees was completely contingent on the visa situation. Thus he has not had access to the Yankees phenomenal coaching staff in the minors. Hopefully this hasn’t hurt his development.
DePaula is 6’3, 212 lbs, 20 years old (will turn 21 this month), and he has a fastball that sits from 92-94, while scouts say he has been known to dial it up to 97. The fastball has good life on it. His three secondary pitches are a curveball, slider, and change up. The curveball has good spin on it. I’m sure that when he comes stateside his arsenal will be tinkered with by Yankees coaching, but scouts believe that these three pitches are actually very polished based on his level of experience. His mechanics are consistent, smooth, and fluid. His control is apparently one of his most impressive qualities.
Here is a video showcasing his stuff. He does seem to be a bit wild in the video, but it’s short and you only see a few pitches.
Here’s another video as well, which to me shows how fluid his delivery is.
Based on his repertoire, he profiles as a 2-3 starter with a ceiling of a number one starter. This projection, however, hinges on the scouting reports being accurate. Accuracy is no guarantee when so few scouts have really had the opportunity to look at him. A 20 year old kid with polished secondary offerings to go along with a fastball that reaches 97 is destined for the starting rotation. The question remains whether all of this is true or just legend.
His estimated time of arrival would depend on a lot of things. He might skip short season ball altogether at this point given his advancing age, so Charleston is certainly not out of the question. If not Charleston, it would be hard to imagine DePaula starting anywhere lower than Staten Island, but stranger things have happened. If he were to start 2012 in Charleston, we would be looking at one of the most exciting groups of players ever to come through the Yankees farm system all on one team. Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Ben Gamel, Dante Bichette Jr., Jose Campos, Rafael DePaula, Matt Tracy, and Gary Sanchez might trump the 2007 Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Jose Tabata et. al. Anyway, I digress. He is a prospect that could move very quickly if he is as polished as scouts say. It’s not out of the question that he could move up to High A Tampa before the end of the season and then up to AA to start next year. That would put him on target for a possible 2014-2015 major league debut.
The front office may take the slower approach though and put him in the GCL to start his career and get his feet wet in the USA.
Regardless of where he starts out, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is where he finishes, and if the preliminary scouting reports are any indication, he’s going to finish in the major leagues.