Archive for Prospect Profiles
Rafael DePaula | RHP
Hailing from La Victoria, Dominican Republic, the 21-year-old right-hander originally presented himself to teams as Rafael DePaula Figueroa with an April 1st, 1992 birthday in 2008. He didn’t garner much attention as a prospect that summer, but his velocity spiked later in the year and he was in line for a seven-figure bonus. MLB suspended him for one year in January 2009 for problems with his documentation.
Following the suspension, DePaula came forward with a new name (Jose Rafael DePaula) and new date of birth (March 24th, 1991). MLB approved his free agency, and he eventually agreed to a contract worth $500k with the Yankees in November 2010. It took 16 months for the U.S. Consulate to approve his visa. DePaula’s visa was finally approved this past March, and his contract became official when he passed a physical a few days later. In the meantime, he worked out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic but could not pitch in official games.
Ty Hensley | RHP
Raised in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, Hensley was a two-sport star at Sante Fe High School before giving up his quarterback gig to focus on baseball as a senior. He pitched to a 1.52 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 55.1 innings with the Wolves this spring, earning him Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year honors and several other awards. His father Mike was a second round pick who was a long-time college pitching coach after injuries derailed his playing career.
Phil Wetherell | RHP
A graduate of Stewardson-Strasburg High School outside of Champaign, Illinois, Wetherell starred as both a pitcher and position player for the Comets. He lettered all four years and was thrice named to the All-Conference Team, plus he played basketball and made the honor roll all four years. Wetherell wasn’t much of a pro prospect however, so he went undrafted in 2008 and ended up at Kaskaskia College, a two-year school. He threw 55.2 IP and led the Hilltoppers to the Great Rivers Athletic Conference Championship, posting a 4.04 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 18 walks. After again going undrafted, he transferred to Western Kentucky.
Zach Nuding | RHP
A Texas kid from Haltom City — just outside of Dallas — Nuding wasn’t much of a pro prospect coming out of high school. He went undrafted after graduating in 2008, then joining the upstart baseball program at Weatherford College, a two-year school. Nuding served as the Coyotes closer as a freshman, then played in the Texas Collegiate League during the summer. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 37th round of the 2009 draft, but did not sign and returned to school for another year.
As a sophomore in 2010, Nuding established himself as the best pro prospect on the staff. He moved into the rotation and appeared in 16 games, striking out 65 with 35 walks in 78 IP. He led all starters with a 2.19 ERA, then again pitched in the Texas Collegiate League after the season. Baseball America (subs. req’d) considered Nuding the 37th best prospect in Texas prior to the 2010 draft, and the Yankees made him their 30th round pick, the 925th overall selection. He signed relatively late for $265k — after the Yankees got a longer look at him in summer ball — foregoing his commitment to Texas Tech.
Jose Campos | RHP
The cousin of former big leaguer Kelvim Escobar and current big leaguer Alcides Escobar, Campos grew up in the Venezuelan port town of La Guaira. The Cardinals tried to sign him in late-2008/early-2009, but his parents refused to sign the contract. When the Mariners stepped in and offered a slightly larger bonus — $115k — he joined Seattle in January of ’09.
Branden Pinder | RHP
A Southern California kid born in Torrance and raised on Corona, Pinder lettered in baseball all four years at Centennial High School. He earned All-Division honors his final two years in school, was named league Pitcher of the Year as a junior, and helped the Huskies to the league title as a senior. Despite all that, Pinder wasn’t much of a pro prospect and he went undrafted after graduating in 2007. Oregon tried to woo him to their re-instated program, but he instead opted to attend Santa Ana College.
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.
Dante Bichette Jr. | 3B
The son of former big leaguer Dante Bichette Sr., Dante Jr. first popped up on the radar in 2005, when he helped his Maitland, Florida team to the Little League World Series. He went on to star at Orangewood Christian High School just outside of Orlando, twice being named the All-Central Florida Baseball Player of the Year. He also led the Rams to the state tournament his junior and senior years.
Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked Bichette as 15th best prospect in Florida and 108th best prospect overall heading into the 2011 draft, so it was somewhat surprising when the Yankees drafted him with their first selection, the 51st overall pick. They’d received that pick as compensation for the loss of Javy Vazquez to the Marlins. Bichette signed quickly for a $750k, passing on his commitment to Georgia for roughly $55k over slot.
Mark Montgomery | RHP
A standout player at Bruton High School in Williamsburg, Virginia, Montgomery set a school record by striking out 107 batters in 60 IP as a senior. He was named to the All-District Team his final three years with the Panthers, and was also named to the All-State and All-Region Teams as a senior. Team MVP and Player of the Year honors from the Virginia Gazette and All-Daily Press followed his final year. He also ran track. Montgomery wasn’t much of a pro prospect at the time though, so he went undrafted in 2009 and headed to Longwood University.
George Kontos | RHP
A Chicago-area kid from Lincolnwood, Illinois, Kontos was a three-sport star at Niles West High School. He played varsity baseball and golf for three years, and also lettered in basketball. Kontos pitched to a 1.02 ERA and hit .480 as a senior, earning him Central Suburban Player of the Year, Team MVP, and First-Team Illinois Coaches Association honors. He was also named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state. Despite his success, Kontos was not considered much of a pro prospect at the time, so he went undrafted out of high school in 2003 and followed through on his commitment to Northwestern.