Scouting Blue Jays Prospect #9: Kyle Yates

Coming off a dominating performance in the Arizona Fall League, Kyle Yates continues to build up momentum as he rises in the organization. The right-hander is expected to pitch more as a reliever over the next few years, and his strong repertoire could give him lots of years in the majors.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Kyle Yates
Positon: Pitcher
DOB: January 8, 1983
Height: 5'11
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Kyle Yates, the young hurler for Toronto, is a product of Texas University and was selected in the 13th round of the 2004 draft. After going a combined 11-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 2005 at Low-A, and High-A, the organization promoted Yates to Double-A New Hampshire to begin the 2005 season. Yates struggled to begin the 2006 season going 0-5 with a 7.15 ERA. The organization then sent him down to Dunedin to work out his flaws, and after 14 innings (2 starts), he was ready to go back to New Hampshire after allowing just one run. After his return to New Hampshire he went 6-3 with a 2.97 ERA.

"My 2006 season was definitely a learning experience. It started out about as bad as possible. I started in Double-A after spring training, hoping to continue off of what I did the previous year, and pick up the way I left off."

Despite the rough start, Yates didn't give up or stop trying. He continued to talk with his coaches to pick their brains and try to get himself back to the level he knew he could achieve.

"After my first five starts I was 0-5 with not very good numbers. During all this I felt like I wasn't pitching that badly but there were some adjustments I needed to make and didn't. I was demoted back to Dunedin after the first month. During that time there I had to refocus on the things that made me successful. I think when I starting in Double-A I tried to do too much, and got my stuff back together in Dunedin.

After he finished strong with New Hampshire the Blue Jays decided to send Yates to the Arizona Fall League to gain more experience.

"My first thought when the Jays asked me to go to the Fall League was definitely excitement. It is definitely an honor and I want to be able to prove myself against some of the best hitters out there."

Yates simply dominated the Arizona Fall League going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 innings, while issuing just 6 walks and fanning 25 batters. So what does Yates attribute the outstanding turnaround from April to October?

"I would say the biggest thing that happened to me was when I was demoted and I was having success in Dunedin. It gave me a lot of confidence to know that I can be successful again."

"Working with pitching coach Daryl Knowles was a big step for me too. He isolated a few things in my wound-up that allowed me to get the ball down and away to a right-handed batter - which was something I was having problems with at the time. We both agreed it wasn't a flaw in my approach but more of lack of execution on my part."

Repertoire: Fastball, curveball, changeup.

Fastball: Yates has an average major league fastball which he throws in the 88-91 MPH range. The right-handers best pitch is not his fastball, but he knows how to use it in all situations, and locates it extremely well, which makes it a more effective pitch.

Secondary Pitches: Scouts thrive when they are asked about Yates' curveball. They cite it as a pitch which freezes right-handed batters and all scouts believe it's very close to being a major league ready pitch. Yates also throws an above average changeup to round out his repertoire.

Projection: Clearly Yates believes he is a starter and at this juncture of his career so does the organization. Talent evaluators are split whether Yates can be a long-term starter in the major leagues, and would like to see the right-hander add a slider or cutter to his repertoire. The Blue Jays view Yates as a future reliever who can get both right-handed and left-handed batters out consistently. Regardless, the mainstream believes that Yates will be a major league pitcher.

2007 Outlook: Yates will likely begin the season in the bullpen with Triple-A Syracuse. The Blue Jays have lots of starting pitching depth and it will make the most sense for Yates to make his move to the pen now.

ETA 2008: Ideally he needs an entire year at Triple-A, but if push comes to shove, expect Yates to get a callup to the big leagues if injuries deplete the bullpen in Toronto and Yates is performing well.

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