TAMPA, FL - With heavy thunderstorms headed towards Tampa on Friday afternoon, the Yankees did some last minute schedule changes and played intrasquad simulated games instead in an effort to get some work in. It was there that right-hander Austin DeCarr, making his Spring Training debut, showed some good stuff, poise, and command.
Pitching against the Trenton Thunder batters, right-hander Austin DeCarr looked very strong in his Spring Training debut. Scheduled to go just one inning, he retired all three batters he faced in relatively easy fashion. Sitting mostly 92-93 mph with his fastball, the breaking ball was tremendous too, averaging 75-77 mph. The changeup, however, has been and remains his main developmental focal point. He threw a couple of good ones but they were still a little too hard, sitting mostly 86 mph.
Left-hander Fred Lewis pitched a couple of innings in the Trenton sim game. His secondary pitches were quite good, including an 81 mph curveball and an 86 mph slider, but the fastball velocity hasn't exactly blossomed yet. He sat mostly 89-92 mph with his fastball.
The southpaw that was showing some great secondary stuff was Caleb Smith. He pitched three innings and had his plus changeup on full display. He averaged mostly 89-91 mph with his fastball so like Lewis he is still looking for that in-season arm strength and he showed a very good slider at times, averaging mostly 79 mph with that pitch, but it was his changeup that was downright nasty. It was bottoming out nearly every time he threw it and even struck out Greg Bird on one of the dirtiest changeups thrown in camp this spring.
Whether it was the lack of true game atmosphere or not that affected most hurlers, right-hander Johnny Barbato's velocity was down a bit too. He averaged mostly 91 mph with his fastball, down from his 94 mph velocity in his last outing, but he finally showcased the great breaking ball he was reputed to have when he was obtained from the San Diego Padres this offseason. Averaging 74-75 mph, he had full control of his curveball and he was buckling a lot of knees with it. Like Smith's changeup, it was a true plus [and nasty] pitch.
Perhaps the most impressive pitcher in the Trenton Thunder simulated game, however, was right-hander Philip Walby. He ranged anywhere from 91-94 mph with his fastball and probably averaged closer to 93 mph, but more than the velocity it was his ability to throw strike after strike that was more impressive. Still, it was his rapidly developing plus changeup that turned the collective heads of the coaching staff. It showed tremendous fade and depth, and bottomed out just like Caleb Smith's. It averaged 83 mph and he got a swing and miss with it every time he threw it. He also threw a few very impressive cutters that averaged 88-90 mph, one of which sawed a bat in half.
Both right-hander Cale Coshow and left-hander Evan Rutckyj were okay, not great, on Friday. Like Barbato, Coshow wasn't showing his normal plus velocity. One who averages 95 mph with his fastball, it sat more in the 91-92 mph range during the simulated game and his secondary pitches, both a slider and changeup, were merely average. Rutckyj also didn't have his A-game velocity working either, averaging mostly 89-90 mph with his fastball. He popped a few 93s though and there were a few really good changeups, but as is par for the course for him over the years he had a hard time throwing strikes consistently.
Another lower level pitcher to store in the memory bank is right-hander Andre Del Bosque. Last year's 38th round pick out of the University of Houston-Victoria was showing a nice blend of stuff and command on Friday. He averaged mostly 91-92 mph with his fastball that showed excellent movement. He painted the zone with his fastball, mixed in a slider that showed long-term plus potential, an average or better curveball, and a couple of changeups. He went right after batters with his pitches and only missed the zone badly one time. He was really, really impressive.
Left-hander Ian Clarkin also made his Spring Training debut in another simulated game. He reportedly averaged 90-91 mph with his fastball and showed some quality secondary pitches.