Sulbaran Proving He Can Pitch

TRENTON, NJ - Left-hander Miguel Sulbaran isn't very big, standing just 5-foot-10, and he doesn't throw very hard either, but he's quickly proving at the Double-A level that he's got more than enough stuff and overall pitch-ability to get advanced level hitters out consistently.

Miguel Sulbaran has had a moderately successful start to his debut season in AA this year. He has a 2-1 record with a 2.45 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched while striking out 19 batters so far in the year.

The young pitcher isn't just adjusting to a new level in the minors either, he's also still adjusting to the Yankees organization. He was traded to the Yankees by the Minnesota Twins for Eduardo Nunez about 13 months ago, but so far he is adjusting well to his new surroundings.

"I'm really happy and excited to be a part of the Yankees organization," Sulbaran said. "They've treated me well and elevated me to the next level to Double-A which I really like. I'm happy for the opportunities I'm being given."

Sulbaran's pitching arsenal includes a four-seam fastball that ranges from 89-92 MPH, a two-seamer that can reach 88 MPH, a changeup, and a slider that Trenton Thunder pitching coach Rosado thinks is good with decent movement.

Sulbaran has pitched a lot of baseball in his young career, competing in the minors since 2011 despite being only 21 years old, but Trenton Thunder manager Al Pedrique thinks that he still needs to improve on his preparation and day-to-day management as a pitcher.

“I think he is maturing a bit,” Pedrique said. “He’s starting to have confidence in his stuff. He knows that he needs to improve on his work habit, doing the things that he needs to do in preparing for the game day in and day out, [and] it’s getting better. He starting to understand the things that he needs to do to prepare for a start."

That maturation process started with a first start on April 10 in which he pitched just three innings and only threw 37 strikes in 73 pitches. Needless to say, he struggled a bit and his command still remained something to be desired.

But at the same time, his diverse repertoire allows him to get the kind of outings that can get an organization excited about his future. He is able to keep hitters on their toes and can’t seem to hit the ball consistently. Sulbaran allowed four hits or fewer in four of his starts this year.

The young pitcher from Venezuela seems to be getting more confidence every time he steps out on the mound, averaging 94.5 pitches in his last two starts compared to just 73.3 in his first three starts.

"Last start, I didn't do so well," Sulbaran said of the May 2 game in which he allowed two runs, two of which were earned. "I didn't have my breaking ball and my fastball was erratic at times. Other than that, I'm feeling pretty good about my starts this year."

If his previous outing is about as bad as Sulbaran will be for the rest of the year, then there shouldn't be a lot of concern inside the clubhouse. Sulbaran is slowly but surely becoming one of the more reliable pitchers on the staff. His pitch count is increasing and hasn't allowed a lot of earned runs per start and seems to keep the opposing team's offense at bay for large portions of the time when he's on the mound.

His daily preparations and command are right now his biggest obstacles at the moment. Sulbaran also acknowledges that he still needs to keep working on keeping his pitches low and getting left-handed batters out more often; lefties still hit him better than right-handed batters.

But Rosado thinks that given his youth and the amount of baseball that he’s played so far in his career, he can be a sleeper talent if and when he goes to the majors.

“I think he can be one,” Rosado said. “He has a lot of baseball experience under his belt, despite his age. He has pitched in a lot of different places including the Venezuelan league, where there is a lot of Major League caliber talent there. He knows how to pitch. Everyone can throw, but not pitch and Miguel has that advantage.”

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