Nuding Being Groomed

Nuding is moving into the starting rotation

One of the more pleasant surprises heading into the start of the 2011 minor league season is right-hander Zach Nuding. Initially thought to be a power reliever type after being drafted last year, the Yankees started grooming him to be a starter in camp and now it appears he'll be a mainstay in the Charleston rotation this year.

"I think it went pretty good," Zach Nuding said of Spring Training. "The biggest thing I worked on in camp is developing my changeup for a third pitch to throw as a strike and not just a pitch where I have no clue where it's going.

"I'm also working on repeating my mechanics smoothly, trying to stay in the same motion and not changing it. With that comes working on command too."

Last year's 30th round pick has yet to pitch in an official minor league game. In fact, he made just a couple of appearances in Instructs this past offseason before his first Spring Training camp this year.

Reputed to be a raw power arm, one who hit as high as 98 mph on the radar gun just a couple of weeks ago, he has always been known for his power fastball, power slider combination.

"I thought my slider was pretty good last year and it hasn't seem to rais any concerns that I need to change it or anything," he said. "For the most part I throw it for a strike when I need to and where I want to, so I don't think it's something that I need to alter.

"In baseball there's always work needed in every part of it though, but I don't think it's something I need to worry about too much.'

He is the first one to note that he still needs work on his changeup and delivery to harness all three of his pitches better, but he certainly showed progress in those areas during camp.

"I think I'm doing everything I'm being asked to do," Nuding said. "I'm working on offspeed pitches, command, location, things that need to be worked on. All of the other pitchers are my teammates but at the same time they're my competition to make it to the next level.

"I have that internal drive or incentive where I'm thinking ‘I'm going to be better than him' or ‘I'm going to do it better than him'. Stacking up against them I feel like I have the same opportunity and the same chance as everyone else does."

Perhaps erroneously perceived as more of a long-term project than actual prospect before Spring Training opened, the fact that he will now bring his power repertoire into a starting capacity in the long-season leagues has his stock on the rise inside the Yankee organization.

"I'm being groomed to be a starting pitcher," he revealed. "That's what they want me to be. I've played both roles in junior college. I feel that I have the capability to start at this level.

"They have faith in me and I don't know why I wouldn't have faith in myself if they do. I think being a starting pitcher is something I can definitely do."

He also had faith in himself entering his first camp that he could in fact break Spring Training with one of the long-season league teams.

"It was definitely a goal of mine to be there in Charleston," he admitted. "I didn't have high expectations for myself going into my first Spring Training, but going to Charleston was something I was working for.

"I thought it was a real expectation and goal for me to strive to. They can always send you back if you're not working as hard as you can so I made sure this Spring Training and this offseason to go after it so I could break camp and start low-A and hopefully work my way up."

Now a part of the Charleston RiverDogs' starting rotation, Nuding believes this is just the start of what could be a promising career in a relatively new role.

"I feel like I'm going to have a really good year," he opined. "It's hard to figure out how I'm going to feel after a hundred-whatever games into the season, but Spring Training went well.

"My pitches were there, I threw well, and I'm in shape for a long season. I know it's going to be a new experience and a grind, but I think I'm definitely ready for the whole thing."

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