Name: Daniel Camarena
DOB: November 9, 1992
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider, Cutter.
Fastball. Camarena gets knocked by critics for his rather average 88-91 mph velocity on the radar gun but the fact is it plays at least a level higher due to his stellar command, deceptive effortless motion, and natural tailing action. He simply can do a lot more with his fastball than some power pitchers can because he's able to spot it up wherever he wants and hitters can't sit on any one particular zone. Having his arthroscopic surgery last season, an injury he pitched with at least for the better part of the 2014 season, there is some hope that he can come back and perhaps add a tick or two to the fastball but with his plus command it's not a necessary component for his fastball to be more effective.
Other Pitches. It isn't just Camarena's uncanny fastball command that allows that pitch to play at such a high level; it's his fastball combined with his advanced secondary arsenal, most of which are above average or better big league pitches, including both a plus big league changeup and curveball. His changeup not only shows great fade and depth, but it's about as consistent as it gets from every aspect. He can spot it up at will and it serves as both a strikeout weapon and a contact out-pitch. The same rings true with his curveball. In fact, like his fastball, he can throw it a couple of different ways and at varying speeds. He has a slower get-him-over 75 mph curveball earlier in counts and a harder 78 mph one he uses as a strikeout pitch later in counts. Throw in both a slider [80-82 mph] and a cutter [84-87 mph] that are relatively new to him but yet both can be thrown for strikes at any point, he can beat batters with various pitches. Both the slider and cutter grade out as big league average right now but show long-term above average or better potential.
Pitching. There should be a photo of Camarena in the dictionary next to the word "pitcher" because he epitomizes the definition in every sense of the term. Not only can he throw an array of five big league pitches for strikes in any count and in any situation but he can use each of his pitches in multiple ways by varying speeds and location. Very much in chess-like fashion he knows how to set up batters earlier in counts to go in for the kill later in pitch sequences and he excels at reading pitchers' swings. Throw in one of the more repeatable and effortless deliveries around, and his ability to limit walks, he is as consistent as it gets on the mound. Boasting off the charts mental makeup, he is very athletic too. He fields his position well and excels at holding runners close, and despite not having a huge physique he shows real stamina both in games and during a long season.
Projection. Camarena is one of the few pitchers in all of minor league baseball with virtually no weaknesses in his game. In fact, about the only downside to Camarena's game is his lack of plus velocity; he excels in every other area. He would have true 'ace' potential if he had an arm like some of the elite pitchers in the game but even without it he can still pitch like one on any given day. He spent the entire 2015 season rehabbing from his elbow surgery and used that time to build up the strength in his lower-half so there is still the potential to add some velocity upon his full return, but even without that he still projects safely as a middle to back-end big league starting pitcher ceiling-wise. With a plus curveball and both an effective slider and cutter at his disposal to help negate lefties he has the floor of a big league left-handed reliever at minimum but he also has one of the deeper arsenals around and the kind of changeup to be just as effective against right-handed batters. He gives the Yankees a lot of options and flexibility role-wise.
ETA. 2017. Camarena seems destined to return back to Double-A Trenton to start the 2016 season and just like he did in 2014 [his last healthy season] the smart money says a mid-season promotion is most likely on his horizon given his high level of pitch-ability. In fact, while he could use an entire minor league season under his belt after missing all of 2015, he could very well be a realistic big league option in 2016 if they had to call upon him. He is oh-so close to being big league ready right now.