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We sat down with Yankees co-pitching coordinator Danny Borrell for a Q&A session.

We sat down with Yankees' minor league pitching coordinator Danny Borrell for a Q&A session. In seventh and final part of this multi-part series we get his initial thoughts on Austin DeCarr [in the photo above] and Drew Finley, what went wrong with Jeff Degano, if Rony Garcia still has some projection to him, who else is ready to break out, and much, much more!.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to Eduardo Rivera.  I don't think a lot of folks realize just how nasty the stuff is or what a great year he had last year because he pitched for three different teams.  A few years ago he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn it seemed and now it appears that control and command are getting better, no? 

Danny Borrell: Yeah he started off in Extended Spring Training and he forced our hand three different times.  We pushed him up to Staten Island, then he went to Charleston, and then he finished in Tampa.  But yeah, tremendous season for him and it's all about controlling the zone for him.  He doesn't need pinpoint command.  Heck, he's up to 99-100 mph on a few occasions.  Just as long as he's around the zone he's going to be able to perform, and he did it last year.  For the most part fastball-curveball, and the curveball can be an out-pitch for him.  [Hitters] have very uncomfortable ABs regardless of what level he was at.  He varies his curveball.  It can be anywhere from 78-82 mph or 83 mph, just depending on how hard he wants to throw it and he spins it extremely well.  He did a nice job of using it at Instructs [too], throwing strikes. 

PinstripesPlus.com: He seems to have taken a shining to the bullpen in particular. 

Borrell: Oh yeah.  He certainly enjoyed the bullpen and he likes getting up every game.  He's a good kid and another guy that our extended coaches -- Travis Phelps did a nice job wit him and then Justin Pope at the end did a nice job.

PinstripesPlus.com: Another bullpen arm that seems vastly underrated is Hobie Harris.  Talk about him.  

Borrell: He had a great year and he had a spike in velocity [last year] too.  Yeah he was up to 97 mph last year and in a lot of games he was 93-95 mph a majority of the season.  He used to be 90-91 mph but we knew there was some more in there in the tank, it just a matter of him being able to get it out of his body.  Our strength guys did a tremendous job working on his lower half and he got it up to 97 mph, he has a nice little curveball, and a little splitter that goes along with it.  He had a great season.

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's talk about Austin DeCarr and how he looked in his return from Tommy John surgery last year.  It seems the stuff, command, and numbers were about what should have been expected in his initial return.

Borrell: He's one of those guys who didn't get his velocity back all the way yet and that's fine.  He came back healthy and he's going to come back strong [this] year.  I'm not concerned whatsoever about his velocity because we saw the arm action.  The arm was working.  With some guys it just takes a little bit longer and I was one of those guys that took a little longer to come back.  Stuff-wise he was 89-93 mph but some nice little finish to his fastball.  It had some good life to it.  His changeup got a lot better too.  Greg Pavlik did a great job with him and his changeup.  The curveball was there, same spin as before.  He finished the season healthy, he finished the season being able to answer the bell every six days, and it was a good season for him.  We'll expect a big season from him [this] year. 

PinstripesPlus.com: Let's move on to Drew Finley who had an injury-marred season of his own.  Was he healthy at the end?

Borrell: He finished up a throwing program [right after Instructs] feeling great.  He was having a nice little season for us in Staten Island and obviously he was in Pulaski in [2015], and we just wanted to get his feet wet early on and get some innings.  He was doing a nice job in Staten {Island], had a little hiccup there, but finished the year healthy and strong.  

PinstripesPlus.com: Prior to his elbow problem last year was he the guy you were anticipating heading into the season?  Had he seen a jump in stuff, pitch-ability, command, etc, etc before going down with the injury? 

Borrell:  The stuff was where we thought it was going to be.  He wasn't, as with most high school kids, you don't see a big velocity jump their first full season.  And it makes sense because it's the first time they've pitched in a six or five-day span and these kids are used to pitching every seventh day.  We were just trying to get him acclimated to a different schedule, a different routine.  The changeup improved dramatically.  The curveball was getting shorter and quicker, and the fastball was very similar [to 2015].  He was doing everything that we hoped he would do until he got that little hiccup there.  I'm expecting him to come back big and strong with a little bit more on that fastball when he's nice and healthy. 

PinstripesPlus.com: I think that's an important part that gets overlooked -- these high school guys don't really ever see that velocity spike until their second full season.  Rookie Davis, Gabe Encinas, etc, they all saw their velo spikes in their second full seasons.  So you could see something like that with either DeCarr or Finlely, correct?

Borrell: Oh yeah, without a doubt.  Both of those guys and I'm assuming Nolan Martinez will be the same way.  Usually it's the second full season [for high school guys] or even after that when they start seeing a jump in velocity.  

PinstripesPlus.com: Are we seeing a velocity spike with Daniel Alvarez yet?  I know he's been the big pitch-ability guy and that everyone is kind of waiting on the jump in velocity. 

Borrell: He was the same last year but what he did a tremendous job of was throwing strikes.  His fastball is off the charts when it comes to life and movement, and he went up to Pulaski at the end of the season last year and did a tremendous job there, not bad for a kid who pitched in the States one time the year before.  He had a good season in the GCL.  He worked on his changeup a lot and it's another kid who is still growing, still getting acclimated to how his body works, and hopefully that velo jumps too.  Even if it doesn't though, it's still a good fastball that's 88-90 mph that plays much harder than the velo.  He has a great curveball, one of the better ones in our system, and a quickly developing changeup.

PinstripesPlus.com:  A guy who seems to have the pitch-ability and the stuff is Rony Garcia.  What did you see from him?

Borrell: Big-time strike-thrower, a ton of ground balls, 92-96 mph, spins his curveball well, and we were just trying to keep his arm slot up in a higher position and that curveball helped him out.  And at Instructional League he did a tremendous job with his changeup.  It's someone who recently signed with us and to perform like he did at the age of 18 we're pretty excited about him. 

PinstripesPlus.com: He's a very big kid already.  Is there still some projection with him?  

Borrell: Yeah he's very loose and he runs around like a baby giraffe half the time so there's a lot of moving parts so you can certainly tell he's a young kid who once he gets stronger and his body starts to fill out, and be just a little more efficient in his delivery -- but for somebody who can generate mid-90s right now, it's intriguing to us and hopefully foreshadows some even bigger velo down the road.

PinstripesPlus.com: Daniel Ramos is a guy I know I've personally been waiting on for a couple of years.  He pitched last year -- not a whole lot and not with the greatest numbers -- but he did pitch.  Did you like what you saw beyond the numbers?

Borrell: Yes.  And again, it's consistency of stuff not just from outing to outing but from inning to inning.  He'll flash you some low 90s, get off whack, and then he's upper-80s.  His biggest thing though was being able to answer the bell.  He missed a few starts there in the middle [of the season] which is understandable for a kid who hadn't pitched in two years but the arm still looks great, nice and loose, the changeup is firm, he has a good feel for it, and he spins his curveball well.  Hopefully he can stay healthy.  I don't know what we have with him but he just needs to stay healthy.

PinstripesPlus.com: Are there any lower level pitchers we should keep an eye out for as a potential breakout candidate or 'sleeper'?

Borrell: Brian Keller.  He was our 39th round pick I believe and it's incredible the season he had.  He's a pretty young kid too -- I think he just turned 21 [years old] -- but he's very projectable and he already throws a ton of strikes.  Hopefully the same guy shows up [this] year but he was 90-93 mph, a good curveball, a nice little slider, the changeup's really good too, and I'm extremely happy that we found him in the 39th round and glad everyone else passed him up.  He opened up some eyes and hopefully he continues to do that this year.  He sticks out. Good arm.  I look forward to seeing him this Spring. 

PinstripesPlus.com: One last guy before you run -- what happened with Jeff Degano?  The numbers were just so dreadful that he simply couldn't have been healthy, no?

Borrell:  Yeah he was battling some back soreness early on in the season and some shoulder tendonitis, and just never got comfortable.  He would flash the stuff, he would flash some command, but it seemed like whenever he was starting to get it something else would come up and bite him.  The stuff is still there.  I've seen him up to 97 mph.  He can certainly do it.  Hopefully he comes back healthy and ready to go.  I felt bad for him because I know it's tough going through injuries like that.  I have confidence in him and he works his butt off.  I expect he'll be ready going to go.


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