Scouting Yankee Prospect #22: Rolando Japa

After a season of gaining high praise from the organization and showcasing a big league arm, Rolando Japa has come a long way as a pitching prospect. Previously, he had toiled for two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, but with a strong showing in 2005, he has vaulted himself into the shuffle. For this reason, he's our Yankees' prospect #22.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Rolando Japa
Position: Pitcher
DOB: January 24, 1985
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 165
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Entering the 2005 season, there were few prospect watchers that knew or even cared about the name Rolando Japa. But, once he began throwing up zeroes in the Gulf Coast League despite spending his two previous seasons in the Dominican Summer League, people began to take notice. One individual in particular that liked what he saw was pitching coordinator, Nardi Contreras.

"There's something about him," Contreras explained. "The way he studied and learned last year was very impressive. He's got a great curveball and the changeup is there to be special. He throws strikes all the time. His last outing last year was in Tampa and he threw four shutout innings and gave up just one hit. That is what I see out of this guy down the road. He's got a lot of guts and the stuff to go with it. He works his tail off and he just wants to be the best."

Although the numbers may not have leaped off the stat sheet by season's end due to small bouts with inconsistency, Rolando opened the eyes of the Yankees enough to get consideration for a 2006 Charleston pitching staff that already figures to be a packed one. The 21-year old has the polish and the stuff, but the only question is, can he get the innings in 2006 with all the high profile prospects to compete against in Spring Training?

"Japa's got a chance to make the Charleston team next year and he's a name to remember for the future," pitching coordinator, Nardi Contreras added. "He's got the talent to be in Charleston next year, but he needs to show it in Spring Training. If he fails, he'll be in Extended Spring Training."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2005

Tampa

0-0

4.0

1

0

2

0.00

2005

Staten Island

0-0

1.2

5

1

2

16.20

2005

Gulf Coast

2-3

36.0

33

19

41

3.50



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Like most highly touted young pitchers, the first thing Rolando Japa has going for him is a live fastball. On the Gulf Coast Yankees' staff, Japa probably had the most consistent velocity, touching the gun in the 91-93 MPH range. At times, he even touched the mid-90's. Especially considering he has a lot of filling out to do on his 6'1", 165 pound frame, he should certainly add more velocity in the coming years. When his mechanics are kept in check, the wiry righty adds a lot of movement to his heater.

Other Pitches. His fastball may have some heat on it, but what makes Japa so effective are his secondary pitches. Armed with a strong changeup and an advanced curveball, he has the ability to overmatch minor league hitters. His curveball is in the mid to low-80's depending on what he takes off on that particular pitch. He appears to have a different breaking ball for each slightly different arm angle. As indicated by pitching coordinator, Nardi Contreras, he is developing a potentially plus changeup to add to his arsenal as well.

Pitching. Mechanically, Rolando Japa shows off an outstanding aptitude for pitching. Unlike the majority of young pitchers, Japa has a complex delivery but he can repeat it with every pitch. That, in itself, is a victory for any young hurler. With that in mind, Japa is able to change his arm angle to create a lot of deception for the hitters. Rolando is the very definition of a slinger. From his three-quarters arm slot, the wiry right-hander extends his arm straight out, creating a bullwhip type of action. With tremendous arm speed and action, Japa has simply electric stuff when he is on. Also, Japa seems to have terrific command while working out a slide step. For a young man slight of build, Japa really has an explosive delivery. He uses his landing leg as a stiff rod to jolt all of his weight forward. Despite the explosive motion, it all looks very fluent coming from Rolando.

But, when his control goes awry, it has a lot to do with his glove arm. Rather than pulling his glove under his arm as he releases the ball, Japa tends to just turn his shoulders. When this happens, Rolando loses the movement he gets when he pulls down and through his pitches. As a result of turning his shoulders, he begins to cut his pitches off. Therefore, his pitches tend to flatten out completely, losing all the natural electric stuff he would normally have. One other problem he has on occasion is that he tips his back shoulder and he has to throw over his body rather than out over his front knee.

Projection. The pure stuff, the work ethic, pitching aptitude and support from the organization are all in place for Rolando Japa to be a starting pitching throughout his climb up the Yankee organizational ladder. The only question will be his durability over the course of the long season to remain a starter. Until he proves otherwise, Japa projects to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation type of starter someday.

ETA. 2010. Considering he is not a lock to begin the 2006 campaign in full season ball, it is too early to make an accurate call on Rolando Japa. Once, he gets a taste of full season pitching, his ETA will be much more clear. Nardi Contreras and the Yankees believe he can move quickly through the farm system, but for now, we'll take a conservative approach and give him a full year at each minor league level.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Rolando Japa
\r\nPosition: Pitcher
\r\nDOB: January 24, 1985
\r\nHeight: 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 165
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nEntering the 2005 season, there were few prospect watchers that knew or even cared about the name Rolando Japa. But, once he began throwing up zeroes in the Gulf Coast League despite spending his two previous seasons in the Dominican Summer League, people began to take notice. One individual in particular that liked what he saw was pitching coordinator, Nardi Contreras.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's something about him,\" Contreras explained. \"The way he studied and learned last year was very impressive. He's got a great curveball and the changeup is there to be special. He throws strikes all the time. His last outing last year was in Tampa and he threw four shutout innings and gave up just one hit. That is what I see out of this guy down the road. He's got a lot of guts and the stuff to go with it. He works his tail off and he just wants to be the best.\"
\r\n
\r\nAlthough the numbers may not have leaped off the stat sheet by season's end due to small bouts with inconsistency, Rolando opened the eyes of the Yankees enough to get consideration for a 2006 Charleston pitching staff that already figures to be a packed one. The 21-year old has the polish and the stuff, but the only question is, can he get the innings in 2006 with all the high profile prospects to compete against in Spring Training?
\r\n
\r\n\"Japa's got a chance to make the Charleston team next year and he's a name to remember for the future,\" pitching coordinator, Nardi Contreras added. \"He's got the talent to be in Charleston next year, but he needs to show it in Spring Training. If he fails, he'll be in Extended Spring Training.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

\r\n Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n H

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2005

\r\n

\r\n Tampa

\r\n

\r\n 0-0

\r\n

\r\n 4.0

\r\n

1

\r\n

0

\r\n

2

\r\n

\r\n 0.00

\r\n

\r\n 2005

\r\n

\r\n Staten Island

\r\n

\r\n 0-0

\r\n

\r\n 1.2

\r\n

5

\r\n

1

\r\n

2

\r\n

\r\n 16.20

\r\n

\r\n 2005

\r\n

\r\n Gulf Coast

\r\n

\r\n 2-3

\r\n

\r\n 36.0

\r\n

\r\n 33

\r\n

\r\n 19

\r\n

\r\n 41

\r\n

\r\n 3.50


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Like most highly touted young pitchers, the first thing Rolando Japa has going for him is a live fastball. On the Gulf Coast Yankees' staff, Japa probably had the most consistent velocity, touching the gun in the 91-93 MPH range. At times, he even touched the mid-90's. Especially considering he has a lot of filling out to do on his 6'1\", 165 pound frame, he should certainly add more velocity in the coming years. When his mechanics are kept in check, the wiry righty adds a lot of movement to his heater.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. His fastball may have some heat on it, but what makes Japa so effective are his secondary pitches. Armed with a strong changeup and an advanced curveball, he has the ability to overmatch minor league hitters. His curveball is in the mid to low-80's depending on what he takes off on that particular pitch. He appears to have a different breaking ball for each slightly different arm angle. As indicated by pitching coordinator, Nardi Contreras, he is developing a potentially plus changeup to add to his arsenal as well.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Mechanically, Rolando Japa shows off an outstanding aptitude for pitching. Unlike the majority of young pitchers, Japa has a complex delivery but he can repeat it with every pitch. That, in itself, is a victory for any young hurler. With that in mind, Japa is able to change his arm angle to create a lot of deception for the hitters. Rolando is the very definition of a slinger. From his three-quarters arm slot, the wiry right-hander extends his arm straight out, creating a bullwhip type of action. With tremendous arm speed and action, Japa has simply electric stuff when he is on. Also, Japa seems to have terrific command while working out a slide step. For a young man slight of build, Japa really has an explosive delivery. He uses his landing leg as a stiff rod to jolt all of his weight forward. Despite the explosive motion, it all looks very fluent coming from Rolando.
\r\n
\r\nBut, when his control goes awry, it has a lot to do with his glove arm. Rather than pulling his glove under his arm as he releases the ball, Japa tends to just turn his shoulders. When this happens, Rolando loses the movement he gets when he pulls down and through his pitches. As a result of turning his shoulders, he begins to cut his pitches off. Therefore, his pitches tend to flatten out completely, losing all the natural electric stuff he would normally have. One other problem he has on occasion is that he tips his back shoulder and he has to throw over his body rather than out over his front knee.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. The pure stuff, the work ethic, pitching aptitude and support from the organization are all in place for Rolando Japa to be a starting pitching throughout his climb up the Yankee organizational ladder. The only question will be his durability over the course of the long season to remain a starter. Until he proves otherwise, Japa projects to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation type of starter someday.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2010. Considering he is not a lock to begin the 2006 campaign in full season ball, it is too early to make an accurate call on Rolando Japa. Once, he gets a taste of full season pitching, his ETA will be much more clear. Nardi Contreras and the Yankees believe he can move quickly through the farm system, but for now, we'll take a conservative approach and give him a full year at each minor league level.
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