Double-A Transition Monitor
**New York Yankees prospect David Phelps had a very good 2009 season, going 13-4, 2.38 with a 122/31 K/BB in 151 innings in A-ball. I wrote him up as a sleeper and breakthrough candidate for 2010 in the book this year. Yankees Vice President Mark Newman gave me this rundown on Phelps when I interviewed him in March:
"We also like David Phelps, who we drafted out of Notre Dame (14th round, 2008). Like Bleich and Warren, he throws harder now than he did in college, 92-95 last year. He's improved his curveball and change, and if the secondary stuff keeps developing he will really emerge this year. He has a clean simple delivery, another thing we like."
Phelps' Double-A transition was an outstanding success: 6-0, 2.04 in 14 starts with an 84/23 K/BB in 88 innings, just 63 hits and two homers allowed. Promoted to Triple-A Scranton at mid-season, he remained very effective with a 3.07 ERA and a 57/13 K/BB in 70 innings, 76 hits allowed. His K/IP and H/IP deteriorated at the higher level, but overall his transition to top minor league competition was a big success: 10-2, 2.50 ERA, 141/36 K/BB in 159 innings, 139 hits, 2.94 FIP overall.
Even with strong pitching over the last two years, Phelps has received less attention than other pitchers in the Yankees organization. Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos get more press and have better pure stuff. But Phelps needs to be tracked closely too, and for most teams, he'd be in the mix for 2011. We could see him as trade bait this winter. I don't see any reason why Phelps can't be a solid number four starter for a lot of teams, given the progress he's made with his secondary pitches.