Scouting Yanks Prospect #50: Eric Wordekemper

The New York Yankees selected RHP Eric Wordekemper in the 46th round of the 2005 MLB Draft out of Creighton University. Used as a starter, a middle reliever, and even as a closer in his professional career thus far, his versatility has given the Yankees a lot of flexibility and he keeps posting eye-popping numbers to fight his way into the top prospect mix.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Eric Wordekemper
Position: Pitcher
DOB: August 8, 1983
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

As a late round pick, he has had to fight for every opportunity he has received in his career. After lowering his career ERA to 2.08 last year with a superb showing, going 4-3 with a 1.81 ERA with the Charleston Riverdogs in 2006 as both a starter and a reliever, the Yankees threw a new role at him in 2007 - closing!

Despite not possessing a blazing fastball, the Iowa native took the challenge a ran with it, going 2-0 with 33 saves and a 0.57 ERA en route to winning the 2007 Florida State League Pitcher of the Year award.

"I was a little bit [surprised]," he said of taking home the honor. "Generally they like to give it to a starting pitcher that has a lot of innings or a lot of wins. I was a little bit surprised but I also had a good year and I was very thankful that they did choose me."

A starter in college and through his first professional season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2005, he was used as both a starter and a reliever in Charleston a year ago. And even though his stuff isn't normally associated with the closer's role, he says it wasn't a tough transition for him.

"Not so much. Earlier in the year I struggled a little bit," he admitted, "but in that role it's so much of a mental game and how you handle yourself if you do get hit around that night.

"I felt I picked up on it fairly easily because I feel my mental toughness is up there. Overall it [the closer's role] was a good change for me. I really enjoyed the role because it was very competitive for me and a good challenge."

Armed with a fastball that sits mostly in the 90-93 MPH range, a good slider, and a developing splitter - considered mostly average big league stuff by most scouts - he has developed his mental toughness competing against better arms and not backing down.

Realizing since the day he was drafted that he might not have the stuff others might possess, he still felt confident that his makeup and impeccable command were equalizing assets, and he kept that same approach as the stopper this past season.

"I just had to focus on each pitch," said Wordekemper. "I always knew I had one inning to throw and so I knew I had to focus on the individual pitch itself and not get too ahead of myself."

Relying more on fastball command than plus velocity, he did make strides in his secondary pitches this past season.

"I was real happy," he said of the development of his pitches]. 'I felt overall I just got more consistent. My arm felt good all year so that was good to see, to stay consistent [in my velocity].

"With 'Pav' [Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik] down there in Tampa, we worked on my slider and tightened that up. That became a good pitch for me too. My split did progress as the season went on and then out here in the Arizona Fall League it has gotten better as well."

As good as his secondary pitches have become, he realizes that, despite having as much success as he had in the closer's role in the minor leagues this past season, he might not project to fill the same role at the big league level someday.

"Obviously the closer's role went well this year but if I get my split where it's an automatic strikeout pitch, possibly the closer's role," he projected his future major league role, "but I see myself as a sixth, seventh, or eighth inning guy with my competitiveness and my mental attitude into the game, and I don't walk a lot of guys. I see myself as a late-inning guy for one or two innings."

Grounded in his expectations but confident in his abilities, now owning a career 1.61 ERA and coming off his best season yet, he wants to stay the course and let his consistency continue to open doors for him.

"I'm just going to pick up where I left off this past year," he said of his goals for next season, "this consistency and taking each pitch one at a time, and really developing that split-finger. I think that's going to be the major goal next year, that split-finger."

Now three seasons into his career and having the type of success that he's had, he believes he has shaken off the late-round stigma and opened some eyes around baseball.

"I would think so," he said confidently. "I think it's hard to ignore the numbers I've put up and I hope I've opened some eyes."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2007

Trenton

0-0

1

1.0

0

0

1

0.00

2007

Tampa

2-0

33

47.0

39

11

34

0.57

2006

Columbus

0-0

0

2.0

0

0

2

0.00

2006

Charleston

3-3

7

78.0

59

21

65

1.73

2005

Staten Island

0-2

0

10.0

15

2

3

4.50

2005

GCL Yankes

2-0

0

29.2

28

1

24

2.12



Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Splitter.

Fastball. While he might not have the power fastball of a Joba Chamberlain, Wordekemper does have great command of a solid big league fastball. He can locate his heater at will in all four quadrants of the plate. He can hit the outside corner with regularity and he is not afraid to pitch inside. The good news for Wordekemper and his supporters is that his velocity did improve in 2007. He averaged 91 MPH with his fastball and did hit 94 MPH a few times over the course of the season.

Other Pitches. Not only did his fastball velocity improve this past season, but Wordekemper's slider also got better. He shortened the break on his slider and it became much sharper, giving him a true strikeout pitch. The Yankees had him start developing a splitter in 2006 as another swing-and-miss pitch and it progressed quite well again in 2007. While it's not a true strikeout pitch just yet, he has been getting a lot of swings-and-misses with it and it is still developing.

Pitching. Like Yankees' pitcher Ian Kennedy, Wordekemper doesn't overpower batters but attacks them better than most. A strike-throwing machine, his plus fastball command allows him to paint the corners with regularity to get ahead in the counts and then goes either to his slider or splitter for the out-pitch. An intelligent pitcher, he is very adept at expanding the strike zone and forcing batters to swing at his pitches, especially since they know he hardly ever walks batters.

Projection. While Wordekemper himself believes a better splitter could allow him to close at the big league level someday, his somewhat limited fastball velocity makes that scenario seem unlikely. He does however have enough to project as a solid middle reliever, and considering he has started before and is very good at keeping his pitch counts low, he could also fill the long reliever/spot starter role as well. His versatility will give the Yankees a lot of options down the road.

ETA. 2009. Dominating the high-A level this past season and owning a combined 0.00 career ERA between Double-A and Triple-A - albeit in just two games - he is ready to tackle Double-A next season. He should be a mainstay in Trenton in 2008 and if he continues to get batters out, he could find himself in Yankee Stadium at some point in 2009.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Eric Wordekemper
\r\nPosition: Pitcher
\r\nDOB: August 8, 1983
\r\nHeight: 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 200
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nAs a late round pick, he has had to fight for every opportunity he has received in his career. After lowering his career ERA to 2.08 last year with a superb showing, going 4-3 with a 1.81 ERA with the Charleston Riverdogs in 2006 as both a starter and a reliever, the Yankees threw a new role at him in 2007 - closing!
\r\n
\r\nDespite not possessing a blazing fastball, the Iowa native took the challenge a ran with it, going 2-0 with 33 saves and a 0.57 ERA en route to winning the 2007 Florida State League Pitcher of the Year award.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was a little bit [surprised],\" he said of taking home the honor. \"Generally they like to give it to a starting pitcher that has a lot of innings or a lot of wins. I was a little bit surprised but I also had a good year and I was very thankful that they did choose me.\"
\r\n
\r\nA starter in college and through his first professional season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2005, he was used as both a starter and a reliever in Charleston a year ago. And even though his stuff isn't normally associated with the closer's role, he says it wasn't a tough transition for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"Not so much. Earlier in the year I struggled a little bit,\" he admitted, \"but in that role it's so much of a mental game and how you handle yourself if you do get hit around that night.
\r\n
\r\n\"I felt I picked up on it fairly easily because I feel my mental toughness is up there. Overall it [the closer's role] was a good change for me. I really enjoyed the role because it was very competitive for me and a good challenge.\"
\r\n
\r\nArmed with a fastball that sits mostly in the 90-93 MPH range, a good slider, and a developing splitter - considered mostly average big league stuff by most scouts - he has developed his mental toughness competing against better arms and not backing down.
\r\n
\r\nRealizing since the day he was drafted that he might not have the stuff others might possess, he still felt confident that his makeup and impeccable command were equalizing assets, and he kept that same approach as the stopper this past season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just had to focus on each pitch,\" said Wordekemper. \"I always knew I had one inning to throw and so I knew I had to focus on the individual pitch itself and not get too ahead of myself.\"
\r\n
\r\nRelying more on fastball command than plus velocity, he did make strides in his secondary pitches this past season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was real happy,\" he said of the development of his pitches]. 'I felt overall I just got more consistent. My arm felt good all year so that was good to see, to stay consistent [in my velocity].
\r\n
\r\n\"With 'Pav' [Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik] down there in Tampa, we worked on my slider and tightened that up. That became a good pitch for me too. My split did progress as the season went on and then out here in the Arizona Fall League it has gotten better as well.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs good as his secondary pitches have become, he realizes that, despite having as much success as he had in the closer's role in the minor leagues this past season, he might not project to fill the same role at the big league level someday.
\r\n
\r\n\"Obviously the closer's role went well this year but if I get my split where it's an automatic strikeout pitch, possibly the closer's role,\" he projected his future major league role, \"but I see myself as a sixth, seventh, or eighth inning guy with my competitiveness and my mental attitude into the game, and I don't walk a lot of guys. I see myself as a late-inning guy for one or two innings.\"
\r\n
\r\nGrounded in his expectations but confident in his abilities, now owning a career 1.61 ERA and coming off his best season yet, he wants to stay the course and let his consistency continue to open doors for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm just going to pick up where I left off this past year,\" he said of his goals for next season, \"this consistency and taking each pitch one at a time, and really developing that split-finger. I think that's going to be the major goal next year, that split-finger.\"
\r\n
\r\nNow three seasons into his career and having the type of success that he's had, he believes he has shaken off the late-round stigma and opened some eyes around baseball.
\r\n
\r\n\"I would think so,\" he said confidently. \"I think it's hard to ignore the numbers I've put up and I hope I've opened some eyes.\"
\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 \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 SV

\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 2007

\r\n

\r\n Trenton

\r\n

\r\n 0-0

\r\n

1

\r\n

\r\n 1.0

\r\n

0

\r\n

0

\r\n

1

\r\n

\r\n 0.00

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Tampa

\r\n

\r\n 2-0

\r\n

\r\n 33

\r\n

\r\n 47.0

\r\n

\r\n 39

\r\n

\r\n 11

\r\n

\r\n 34

\r\n

\r\n 0.57

\r\n

\r\n 2006

\r\n

\r\n Columbus

\r\n

\r\n 0-0

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 2.0

\r\n

0

\r\n

0

\r\n

2

\r\n

\r\n 0.00

\r\n

\r\n 2006

\r\n

\r\n Charleston

\r\n

\r\n 3-3

\r\n

7

\r\n

\r\n 78.0

\r\n

\r\n 59

\r\n

\r\n 21

\r\n

\r\n 65

\r\n

\r\n 1.73

\r\n

\r\n 2005

\r\n

\r\n Staten Island

\r\n

\r\n 0-2

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 10.0

\r\n

\r\n 15

\r\n

2

\r\n

3

\r\n

\r\n 4.50

\r\n

\r\n 2005

\r\n

\r\n GCL Yankes

\r\n

\r\n 2-0

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 29.2

\r\n

\r\n 28

\r\n

1

\r\n

\r\n 24

\r\n

\r\n 2.12


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Slider, Splitter.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. While he might not have the power fastball of a Joba Chamberlain, Wordekemper does have great command of a solid big league fastball. He can locate his heater at will in all four quadrants of the plate. He can hit the outside corner with regularity and he is not afraid to pitch inside. The good news for Wordekemper and his supporters is that his velocity did improve in 2007. He averaged 91 MPH with his fastball and did hit 94 MPH a few times over the course of the season.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. Not only did his fastball velocity improve this past season, but Wordekemper's slider also got better. He shortened the break on his slider and it became much sharper, giving him a true strikeout pitch. The Yankees had him start developing a splitter in 2006 as another swing-and-miss pitch and it progressed quite well again in 2007. While it's not a true strikeout pitch just yet, he has been getting a lot of swings-and-misses with it and it is still developing.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Like Yankees' pitcher Ian Kennedy, Wordekemper doesn't overpower batters but attacks them better than most. A strike-throwing machine, his plus fastball command allows him to paint the corners with regularity to get ahead in the counts and then goes either to his slider or splitter for the out-pitch. An intelligent pitcher, he is very adept at expanding the strike zone and forcing batters to swing at his pitches, especially since they know he hardly ever walks batters.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. While Wordekemper himself believes a better splitter could allow him to close at the big league level someday, his somewhat limited fastball velocity makes that scenario seem unlikely. He does however have enough to project as a solid middle reliever, and considering he has started before and is very good at keeping his pitch counts low, he could also fill the long reliever/spot starter role as well. His versatility will give the Yankees a lot of options down the road.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2009. Dominating the high-A level this past season and owning a combined 0.00 career ERA between Double-A and Triple-A - albeit in just two games - he is ready to tackle Double-A next season. He should be a mainstay in Trenton in 2008 and if he continues to get batters out, he could find himself in Yankee Stadium at some point in 2009.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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