The Yankees signed Nuno, 24, last season from the Washington Wild, an independant team that picked him up after the Indians let him go. He had previously been drafted by the Indians in the 48th round of the 2009 draft and had decent numbers in two seasons before they released him.
He’s a bit old to be a prospect with the Yankees, but ever since signing he has done nothing but dominate. In 25 innings with the Staten Island Yankees he had a 1.95 ERA, a 8.5 K/9, and a 1.4 BB/9. Promoted to Low-A Charleston, he posted a 1.80 ERA, a 8.3 K/9, and a microscopic 0.4 BB/9 in 40 innings.
He began this season out of the High-A Tampa bullpen where he had a 2.96 ERA, a 9.6 K/9, and a 2.2 BB/9 in 24.1 innings. He was promoted to the Double-A Trenton rotation only because of injuries, but so far he has a 0.33 ERA there in 27.1 innings although his K/9 dropped to 5.7.
Nuno credits his newly found changeup as the reason he went from getting cut by the Indians to thriving in the Yankees system.
“I didn’t have a changeup,” Nuno told Nick Peruffo of the Trentonian. “I had the command, but that changeup has been a key factor for the last year and a half. You have to mix up speeds with these great hitters coming up through the levels.”
Now Nuno is a bit old for most of the levels he’s been playing at which might be a contributing factor to his dominance at the lower levels. Now that he’s in Double-A his K/9 has dropped significantly and his BB/9 is up a bit compared to past years. However, it is not easy to maintain such a tiny ERA at any level and his manager in Trenton thinks he has the stuff to make the majors.
“Everybody can go out there and win a game once every seven or eight days,” Thunder manager Tony Franklin told Peruffo. “How about the guy that can go out and win two games in a row, three games in a row, and have the same stuff time and time again? That guy has a chance to pitch in the big leagues.”
At this point it is too early to consider Nuno much of a prospect, but he is certainly intriguing. Nuno doesn’t have overpowering stuff, his fastball tops out at about 90 mph, he does have a solid arsenal that besides his changeup also includes a curve, a slider, and a cutter. That certainly puts him into more of the Alfredo Aceves mold than Edwar Ramirez, another pitcher the Yankees signed out of the independent leagues after he developed a changeup.
Nuno still won’t have an easy path to the majors. He’s going to have to get those peripherals back up or just continue to flat out dominate before he’s promoted to the big leauges. He’ll have to do it again in Triple-A too because the Yankees rotation and bullpen has been so good there really isn’t room for him anytime soon. But if he keeps pitching the way he has then eventually he will get a shot. It certainly helps that he’s a lefty. If nothing else, he’ll keep getting chances for that reason.
This guy has certainly grabbed everyone’s attention. Now he has to keep it up and grab hold of this opportunity he has given himself.