Scouting Yankee Prospect #37: Ben Julianel

The Yankees acquired Ben Julianel in August of 2003 for Sterling Hitchcock. Since then, he has displayed that he can dominate lefty hitters. Julianel has a bulldog mentality and he has the potential to be a fantastic lefty reliever. It's these reasons that he's our #37 Yankee's prospect. <b>(Free Preview)</b>

Vital Statistics
Name: Ben Julianel
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: September 4, 1979
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 180
Bats: Switch
Throws: Left
Place of Residence: Belmont, California

Ben Julianel was dealt to the Yankees along with Justin Pope for Sterling Hitchcock in August of 2003. "It's clear to me that this is a step up with New York," Julianel had to say after the trade. The 25 year old lefty is not exactly a household name in the world of baseball prospects, but in many cases it is not household names that win pennants. Maybe that is exactly why the Yankees sent Julianel to the Arizona Fall League this year. Even though he was not added to the 40 man roster this year, he is not expected to be taken in the Rule 5 draft. But, there was certainly nothing to show that he didn't deserve the honor of being added during the 2004 regular season but he did have some sub par performances in the Arizona Fall league in 2004. Overall, though, he is still highly valued and regarded by the Yankee organization.

The organization does have an idea of his value, but why has he been stuck in High A ball until he was 25 years old? Granted, he did get a short stint in AA late in the 2004 season but not enough of a stint to even speak of. Without a doubt, he should easily be in AA next season and perhaps in AAA. But, why has a guy that dominates lefties the way he does, gone completely unnoticed for so long? Well, some of the reason is because of his setback in 2003 while he was still with the Cardinal organization. The Cardinals were just about to promote him from Low A ball to High A when there was a change of plans. They were going to teach him to be a relief pitcher. But, while he was disappointed not to be promoted at the time, he was happy about the switch. "I want the chance to play everyday," he told the San Francisco Examiner. Half the reason the Cardinals did this was the improvement they saw in him over the year prior. Not to mention, their eyes lit up when thinking about his bullpen possibilities. Here is what Julianel's high school coach had to say about his improvement in an interview with the San Francisco Examiner. "He's gone from throwing 84-to-86 miles per hour to throwing 86-to-90 with the filthiest change-up you've ever seen," said Hayes. "He has more break on his slider now and has learned to locate all his pitches better." The switch to the pen turned out to be a stroke of genius as the left hander racked up a 1.05 ERA with a 4-2 record with Peoria. With a performance like this, suddenly Julianel had a lot of value on the trade market.

The rest is history about the development into a reliever and his eventual trade. But the important thing is what a hit he has become in the Yankee Farm System. His manager in Tampa, Bill Masse, said this to about Ben Julianel. "What he does look like to me is a very good left handed reliever that could give you two or three innings of good relief. The reason I say that is because I think he is actually equally tough on right handed hitters. That's mostly because he has a plus changeup. His changeup is just fantastic. He comes straight over the top and he gets good tail down and away from righties with that change. He brings it straight over the top and he really hides the ball well. And, he is just a fierce competitor. He has a heart the size of Texas. He really does. Something that helped him late in the year though was his slider. His slider really came on strong and that should really help him next year also. But, a guy who he reminds me of is Gabe White. He is the same type of guy."

Despite an excellent regular season, Julianel struggled in the AFL this season. He posted an ugly 5.60 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched. Due to this, he wasn't added to the 40 man roster but you can still expect to see him in the Trenton Thunder bullpen in 2004.




























Stats vs. Lefty Batters in 2004:
 Julianel .135 0.64 3.41 2.40 11 8 11 81

Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Three Finger Changeup

Fastball. Julianel had arm surgery in his college days and it took him a while to get his arm strength back to where it is at this point. Even so, his fastball is not overpowering. It ranges anywhere from 87-91 MPH but one thing he does have on it is excellent movement. Julianel is more of an old fashioned lefty and has that ability to come inside on the big left handed hitters with his tailing fastball. Either way, his fastball is nothing more than a good set up pitch for his good off speed stuff. But, his command is what allows him to keep pounding the zone with his fastball and not have to become a junk ball pitcher.

Other Pitches. As earlier stated, Ben Julianel is not all about his fastball. He will sink or float with his great off speed stuff and the important thing is how intelligently he uses those pitches. His breaking ball is a very good slider that he made a lot of progress with in 2004. This is the pitch that makes him a good candidate for being a lefty specialist. The slider has a tight break with a lot of velocity behind it as well. He can also get it up there around 83 MPH. Julianel's slider definitely qualifies as a power slider and a good one at that. However, the compliment to this pitch is what makes Ben Julianel as good as he is. It is his changeup. This is his bread and butter pitch and for good reason. The lefty throws a three finger changeup and he uses it as his equalizer against right handed hitters. When he is on, he can dominate using a combination of his fastball and changeup alone. It is one of the best you will see. And, the thing is that his command of it seems to get better and better with experience.

Pitching. The 25 year old lefty has a fairly compact, basic delivery, coming straight over the top, but hiding the ball very well in the process. Ben Julianel comes right after every single hitter and that is what makes him so good against them. He is not afraid at all to come inside on any hitter. Also, as his manager said, he is a fierce competitor and attacks the hitters. Not to mention, he is intelligent enough to know his role in getting the left handed hitters out and he pitches according to that idea. Julianel also possesses one of the nastiest changeups you will ever see. It is a three finger changeup that is about 8-12 MPH slower than his fastball. He has learned to use it in the right spot to absolutely baffle every type of hitter. Any time a young lefty can master a changeup in the early stages like he has done, there is an excellent chance to be successful. Also, you know a guy has dominating off speed stuff when he can strike out so many batters without many fastballs cracking 90 MPH on the radar gun.

Projection. Ben Julianel hasn't been a starter in the Yankee organization and things look to remain that way. His value is as a reliever and that is where his future lies in any organization, including the New York Yankees.

ETA. 2006. Julianel will likely begin the 2005 season with the Trenton Thunder, but the possibility exists that he could even head to AAA Columbus. However, assuming he starts off in AA, Julianel will probably be due for a promotion to AAA at some point during the season. Then, if the Yankees are looking for a bullpen option in 2006, this lefty could be an excellent option.

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