Daniel Camarena | LHP
A Southern California kid from just south of San Diego in Bonita, Camarena grew up a fan of the Yankees and Andy Pettitte. He starred both on the mound and in the outfield for Cathedral Catholic High School, pitching the Dons to the California Interscholastic Federation title this spring. Camarena struck out 76 and walked just six in 49 IP as a senior, and four of those walks came in one outing. He took home a ton of hardware in high school, including Rawlings First Team All-American and California All-Region in 2011. He was also named First Team All-CIF and an AFLAC All-American in 2010.
Camarena was strongly committed to The University of San Diego, where he would have both pitched and played the field. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 15th best prospect in SoCal and 138th best prospect overall prior to the draft, but the USD commitment caused him to slide to the Yankees in the 20th round, the 629th overall pick. He agreed to an above-slot $335k bonus about a week before the signing deadline, but did not appear in a game after signing.
Standing 6-foot-1 and 200 lbs., Camarena is a three-pitch lefty that sits anywhere from 85-91 with the fastball. His best secondary pitch is an average changeup that is light years ahead of the typical high school draftee’s. He turns the pitch over well and it fades away from righties. Camarena’s curveball is also a solid pitch that generates swings and misses at its best. All of his stuff plays up because of aptitude and control, which is advanced for a teenager thanks in part to his simple delivery.
Camarena also has legitimate pro ability as an outfielder, using a sweet line drive swing to spray the ball to all fields from the left side. He has more long-term potential on the mound however, so that’s where the Yankees will keep him. Here is Camarena’s MLB.com draft video, and there are a number of clips of him both pitching and hitting on YouTube.
Camarena is a little more advanced than some of the other high school arms the Yankees have drafted in recent years, but he’s still likely to held back in Extended Spring Training before debuting in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League next June. An assignment to Short Season Staten Island instead isn’t out of the question, but I wouldn’t count on it.
I’ve always preferred high school pitchers to their college counterparts because they haven’t had a chance to be run into the ground or develop bad habits at the hands of their college coach, and Camarena is no different. He’s a legit three-pitch lefty with decent size and an idea of how to pitch, and I think he’s the best pitching prospect the Yankees drafted this summer. I can see an argument for Jordan Cote, but I’ll take the polished lefty over the raw righty in this case. I’m excited to see what he’ll do during his pro debut this year, and whether or not the Yankees bump him up to Staten Island before the end of the season if he’s pitching well. I wouldn’t say Camarena’s upside is significant, but he has the tools to pitch in a big league rotation down the line.