PP Scouting Report: RHP, Matthew DeSalvo

Unbeknownst to most fans, the Yankees have the all-time NCAA leader in strikeouts and wins in their organization. Matthew DeSalvo was eligible for the amateur draft after his junior year, but went undrafted, likely due to the fact he played for Division III Marietta College. After missing a year with a knee injury, DeSalvo returned with a vengeance in 2003, breaking NCAA records during a monster season. After the school year ended, DeSalvo signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Matthew DeSalvo
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: September 11, 1980
Height: 6'0"
Weight:
170 lbs
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Place of Residence:
New Castle, Pennsylvania
How Acquired:
Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Yankees on May 15, 2003.
Other Info: Graduated from Marietta College with a degree in Environmental Science in May, 2003.

DeSalvo missed the entire 2002 season - and his senior year - with a knee injury that required surgery.  He returned to the Marietta Pioneers the next season and resumed his domination as a fifth-year senior.  Prior to 2003, DeSalvo had already been awarded the Kent Tekulve Pitcher of the Year Award, given to the best pitcher in the Ohio Athletic Conference.  DeSalvo's numbers, which are unignorable by any of my estimations, were overlooked by major league teams when he went undrafted after his junior year.  For some reason, teams didn't consider a 17-1 record, 1.50 ERA and D-III record 205 strikeouts in 120 innings (!) good enough to warrant a pick. 

DeSalvo was hurt by the draft-day snub but spun it positively, telling his school's website, "I figured it was a win/win situation for me. Either I got drafted and I moved on or I got to stay and play one more year. It's not like it was my last year. I'll get another chance at it."

And DeSalvo took that chance, posting ridiculous numbers when he returned from his injuries and winning his third Tekulve award.  The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) named him their NCAA D-III National Pitcher of the Year as well. 

Seeing his pitching ability and numerous awards, the Yankees jumped right in and signed DeSalvo to join their minor league system.  He began the year at Staten Island and showed off his stuff.  In the NY-Penn league, the righty fanned 52 batters in just 49 innings and earned himself a promotion to Battle Creek.  He was even more impressive in the Midwest League, posting a sick 0.82 ERA, striking out nine batters in his MWL debut, and even recording a win in the BC Yankees' playoff opener.

The key to DeSalvo's success is excellent command and an overpowering fastball-slider combination.  Originally just a FB-SL pitcher, DeSalvo added a changeup and curveball to his repertoire before his senior year in college.  The additions gave him four plus pitches that helped him rack up strikeouts at a record pace.  

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA WHIP BAA K/9 BB/9

2003

Battle Creek

2-0

22

15

5

21

0.82 0.91 .195 8.6 2.0

2003

Staten Island

3-3

49

42

19

52

1.84 1.24 .232 9.6 3.5

02-03

Marietta College

13-2

96

46

40

157

1.31 0.90 N/A 14.7 3.8
 

Repertoire:  Fastball, Slider, Changeup, Curveball

Fastball: Despite his relatively small size, DeSalvo can get his fastball up to the mid-90's, generally topping out at around 95 mph.  He stays more consistently around the 93 mph range, however.  DeSalvo's walk rates are a little bit high, suggesting he may struggle with command from time to time.

Other Pitches: Slider and fastball were sufficient to strike out tons of batters in his first three years of college, additions of curve and change should only make him a more versatile pitcher.

Pitching: DeSalvo is a power pitcher capable of mowing down batters left and right.  His minor-league K-rate is obviously more indicative of his actual ability (D-III opponents aren't as tough as minor league ballplayers).  The walk rate is a little bit high, but DeSalvo doesn't give up many hits for it to be a real problem.  He also allowed just two homeruns between Staten Island and Battle Creek, both at SI.

Projection: Starter, possible closer depending on how his durability shapes up.  DeSalvo was a starter in college, but worked several innings out of the pen while there.  He made 13 starts this year in the minors and averaged only 5.4 innings per start, but pitchers do generally pitch fewer innings in the minors. 

ETA: Late 2005.  The Yankees are going to push DeSalvo, because he is a year late out of college and already 23 years old.  He'll likely start the 2004 season at AA Trenton, bypassing Tampa.  A successful season there will mean a promotion to Columbus by 2005, and he could be major-league ready by the end of that year.

Notes: Three-time recipient of the OAC Kent Tekulve Pitcher of the Year Award... NCAA all-division career record holder in strikeouts (603) and victories (53)... NCAA D-III single-season strikeout record holder (205)... Four-time OAC pitcher of the week (six week season)... Draws comparisons to Oakland reliever Chad Harville because of relatively small size but good velocity... Career college numbers: 53-6, 1.80 ERA, 603 strikeouts, 220 hits, 188 walks in 395.2 innings, 25 complete games, nine shutouts, three saves.

Starting Pitchers

2003 Team

Jorge De Paula

AAA - Columbus Clippers

Alex Graman

AAA - Columbus Clippers

Christian Parker

AAA - Columbus Clippers

Eric Schmitt AAA - Columbus Clippers
Andy Beal AA - Trenton Thunder
Eddie Candelario AA - Trenton Thunder
Brad Halsey AA - Trenton Thunder
Javier Ortiz AA - Trenton Thunder
Edison Reynoso AA - Trenton Thunder
Chien-Ming Wang AA - Trenton Thunder
Sean Henn A - Tampa Yankees
Dave Martinez A - Tampa Yankees
Mark Phillips A - Tampa Yankees
Jose Garcia A - Tampa Yankees
Jose Valdez A - Tampa Yankees
Ray Clark A - Battle Creek Yankees
Jon Skaggs A - Battle Creek Yankees
Matthew DeSalvo A - Battle Creek Yankees
Brandon Harmsen A - Staten Island Yankees
Jeffrey Karstens A - Staten Island Yankees
Chase Wright A - Staten Island Yankees
Abel Gomez R - GCL Yankees
Tyler Clippard R - GCL Yankees
Edgar Soto R - GCL Yankees
Toni Lara R - GCL Yankees
Guillermo Villalona R - GCL Yankees

COMMENTS

1. Danny Borrell - Yankees top pitching prospect, command pitcher recovering from ligament surgery.  Had excellent first season back with 2.93 ERA in 55.1 innings.  Could be ready for majors in 2004.

2. Jorge De Paula - looked excellent in spot start for Yankees in 2003.  Uses change-up as his out pitch, but has two other good pitches.  May be ready for major league action in 2004.

3. Christian Parker - Once a top-level pitching prospect, now an afterthought.  Parker's K rate (3.4 K/9)was pathetic in '03, and .313 opponent's BA do not bode well.

4. Chien-Ming Wang - Talented pitcher with good repertoire had a bumpy season in his first full year at AA.  4.65 ERA in 122 innings and 6.2 K/9 are good but not great.

5. Sean Henn - Went 5-4 with a 3.49 ERA with mostly Tampa in 2003.  Southpaw posted pretty good K rate, but walks too many batters.  Mixes high-90's fastball with excellent changeup to completely mess up opposing hitters. Can't seem to stay healthy yet.

6. Ray Clark - Control pitcher, has shown signs of being able to dominate.  Good 2003 season will be rewarded with promotion to high-A Tampa or possibly even Trenton.

7. Alex Graman - Spent entire season with AAA after making 20 starts for them in 2002.  Just turned 26, but hasn't had a really good season since 2001.

8. Tyler Clippard - Yankees 9th round draft pick in 2003 had an impressive debut for the GCL Yankees.  Compiled a 2.89 ERA in 43.2 innings and struck out a whopping 56 batters (11.5 K/9) while walking just 5 (1.0 BB/9) for a sparkling 11.2 K/BB ratio.  0.88 WHIP was also pretty nice.  At just 18 years old, need a lot more time in the minors.


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