For the Yankees, spring training actually provides a unique opportunity to evaluate talent. It doesn’t mean much for the veterans who have been there and done that, but for Rule 5 picks and borderline minor leaguers, there is legitimate pressure to perform. It’s a different sort of pressure than they face in Scranton or Trenton.
“It’s as close to the regular season in New York as you can simulate,” pro scouting director Billy Eppler said. “They’re going to demonstrate anything they can do. They aren’t going to hold anything back. It can be a situation where you’re getting to see these guys in a little bit more adverse setting than what is typically out there.”
The results are not necessarily what the Yankees are trying to evaluate. They’re looking for how a player attacks and how he reacts. “We’re looking more for approach and process,” Eppler said.
I asked Eppler to give me a brief scouting report on each of the two Yankees Rule 5 picks. In each case, the Yankees saw talent in the minor leagues and thought they take a look under the microscope of big league camp.
Fastball: 89-94 mph, averaging 91 to 92. Can miss bats.
Curveball: Has “feel” for the breaking ball. Curve has good downward tilt and size.
Change: Slight fade action.
Needs to improve strike throwing ability, but the Yankees like that he has the ability to miss bats and get strikeouts. They especially like those things from the left side. Eppler didn’t mention this, but obviously the Yankees have their top two left-handed options. They’ve also loaded up on lefties signed to minor league deals. Like any Rule 5 pick, Fish must be considered a long shot, but the Yankees believe there’s talent there.
This one is more about grabbing an arm that has talent and finding out how it plays. Unlike Fish, Turpen has spent all of his career pitching out of the bullpen, having done it at Oregon State and throughout the minor leagues.
Fastball: 88-94 mph, averaging 92. Good sink that generates ground balls.
Slider: His breaking ball can be a strikeout pitch. Delivery plays a role.
Changeup: Turpen has thrown a changeup in the past, but the Yankees didn’t see one in 2010.
Turpen throws strikes, and he comes with a low 3/4 arm slot that adds deception. Just like Fish, the Yankees scouting reports described Turpen as having a “large, burly build.” He’s a big guy throwing with some velocity and sink from the right side. As it stands, the Yankees seem to have six of seven bullpen spots accounted for. Turpen could find his way into the mix kind of like Jonathan Albaladejo did when he broke camp in 2008 and 2009.