T-Yanks Dispatch: Matt DeSalvo a Rising Ace?

People that follow the Yankee Farm System have often unsuccessfully searched for the next up and coming pitcher to make his way to the Bronx someday. However, to the dismay of the typical Yankee Fan, this pitcher has not come along since Andy Pettitte in 1995. Randy Keisler, Brett Jodie, Ed Yarnall, Ted Lilly and Brandon Claussen have all come and gone, making little impact in New York. But, could the answer to this problem be Tampa's RHP Matt DeSalvo? <b>(Free Preview of Premium Content)</b>

The Tampa Yankees ballclub has been characterized by there big and explosive bats this season, but they do have a certified ace leading the way on their pitching staff. His name? Matt DeSalvo. This young righthander is starting and doing everything in his power to prove that the Yankees doing have an excellent pitching prospect and that he is that pitcher. DeSalvo has been simply dominating in the Florida State League this year with what seems like a flawless season thus far. In fact, throughout his short, yet illustrious Yankee career, the 23 year old righty has hit very few bumps in the road. Ever since his years at Marietta College, his attitude has been the same. "My attitude is 'I'll show you,' which I'm doing now", says DeSalvo. He sure is showing everyone, including the Yankee organization that they may have found a future rock for their staff.

It has not been a complete joyride for Matt DeSalvo as he did not truly blossom into the star pitcher he is now until his fifth year at Marietta College. That's right, his fifth year. He expected to be drafted into the pros after his junior year but he was dealt the disappointment of going undrafted. He suffered another setback in his senior year as he had a knee injury which once again kept him from being drafted. DeSalvo kept his determined attitude and came back very strong with a fifth season at the college. The righthander was ineligible for the MLB Draft but he was signed as a free agent by the Yankees after his final amateur season. Many scouts believe that by obtaining him in this fashion, New York got a tremendous steal in regards to baseball talent. It was a low risk and possible high reward signing for the Yankees but it was still not well known what the Yankees would get from a Division III dominating pitcher. They would soon find out though, when they assigned him to Short-Season A ball Staten Island.

Before he was signed by the Yankees and until his final season at Marietta, DeSalvo's major league type of potential was highly doubted because of lack of depth is his repertoire. As any good pitcher would, Matt DeSalvo defied his critics. He added a curveball and a changeup that made him all the more effective and all the more desirable as well. Once he arrived in Staten Island only last season, a lot of heads were turned, that's for sure. Here was this amateur free agent signing, walking in and blowing everyone away. The 5' 10" righty was purely dominant to put it simply. He went 3-3 with a miniscule 1.84 ERA. He also averaged nearly ten strikeouts per nine innings to go along with .232 batting average against. It was at this point that DeSalvo went from afterthought to solid prospect status. However, he was 22 years old at the time and some scouts said that he would have to face better competition before even being considered a top prospect in this organization. So, late in the season DeSalvo saw action in Battle Creek after his promotion and once again he was shockingly dominant. The Pennsylvania native went 2-0 with a filthy 0.82 ERA. To add to that, batters in the Midwest League batted only .195 off of him.

That brings us to this season, the one that was suppose to put him to the final test to see if he was as good as he had shown in the season prior. He has been just that and then some thus far with High A Tampa. DeSalvo leads the Florida State League in ERA and in one early season performance, he tossed a seven inning no hitter. There is no doubt that he is the ace of the Tampa staff but is he even possibly the best pitching prospect as well? Some say he could be. The 23 year old righty has shown all the signs of being an ace type pitcher, especially through his first full professional season here in 2004. The ace type of stuff has reared it's head as has become a nice combination of power and control. His strikeout to walk ratio is about 3 to 1 and he is averaging almost ten strikeouts per nine innings.

His statistics? Fantastic. His mental makeup? Just as impressive. Skills? They are all just about as good as they come and have showed up in a big way in 2004. There have even been whispers that, as a result of his superb performance, DeSalvo could very well be headed to the next level, the AA Trenton Thunder in the near future. The Yankees will hope to push this young righthander with electric stuff through the system fairly quickly. This is due somewhat to age but mostly because the star pitching glow is beginning to brighten around him.

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