Scouting Yankee Prospect #20: Matt DeSalvo

The Yankees may have found a diamond in the rough when they signed Matt DeSalvo as an undrafted free agent in 2003. DeSalvo has command of several different pitches with the ability to throw strikes and pick up strikeouts. It's these reasons that he's our Yankee's prospect #20. <b>(Free Preview of Premium Content)</b>

Vital Statistics
Name: Matthew DeSalvo
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: September 11, 1980
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 170 lbs
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Place of Residence: New Castle, Pennsylvania

Even though he wasn't really a high profile guy when the Yankees signed him, Matt DeSalvo is one of those guys that has simply forced himself into being called a very fine prospect. Since the Yankees signed him on May 15th of 2003, DeSalvo has done nothing but perform. Not bad for a guy who couldn't even get himself drafted by a Major League club as a junior at Marietta College. However, that isn't to say he wasn't deserving. In fact, as a junior, he compiled an incredible 17-1 record. Not to mention, who would ever know of all the NCAA records that he owns? Granted, he did pitch Div. III but, either way, he did set records for career victories (53) and strikeouts (603; he also has the single-season D-III mark of 205) in his college career. The aggressive righty was forced to sit out the 2002 season so he ended up becoming a fifth year senior in 2003. Again, he dominated and the Yankees eyes began to light up.

The Yankees were more than thrilled to be able land such a polished college pitcher with so little hype. In their eyes, they may have found a diamond in the rough. It didn't take DeSalvo long to prove them correct. He was a assigned to short season Staten Island to launch his professional career and he got off to a flying start. After posting a dominant 1.84 ERA in 49 innings, the Yankees promoted DeSalvo to low A Battle Creek. But, after he continued his dominance there, the Yankees began to realize he may be even more advanced than they had originally thought. Even despite the temptation to send their intriguing pitching prospect to AA in 2004, New York resisted and put him on top the Tampa Yankee pitching staff. But, again, that turned out too be easy a challenge as he was about to continue his meteoric rise through the system.

Matt DeSalvo was promoted, late in the season, to AA Trenton. However, for the first time in his professional career, he hit a bump in the road. He never really found himself in his 5 starts there, battling a nagging back injury. That same injury would eventually put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season. The injury is not expected to be serious and at this point, and this rising pitching prospect is expected to begin the 2005 season on schedule as a part of the Trenton pitching staff. We'll need to keep a close eye on the health of his back in the coming months in spring training. His health will be the key to his success. But, considering his competitive spirit, we can can expect a strong comeback by DeSalvo.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2003

Staten Island

3-3

0

49

42

19

52

1.84

2003

Battle Creek

2-1

0

22

15

5

21

0.82

2003

Tampa

6-3

0

75

48

30

80

1.43

2002

Trenton

2-2

0

27

27

10

24

6.59


Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider, Forkball

Fastball. One may not call him a flamethrower but Matt DeSalvo is the type of guy that seems to be able to crank it up when he needs to. His fastball has a wide range of speeds, anywhere between 87-94 MPH. His four seam fastball is closer to the 93-94 MPH range. However, he does have an excellent sinking fastball that he throws between 87-91 MPH. But, the thing that DeSalvo has the uncanny ability to do is spot his fastball and tease hitters with it in and out of the zone. He has outstanding natural movement that allows him to do this and he has the intelligence to move the ball just above the letters with his four seam fastball. Not to mention, he also can make batters swing at balls just off the plate with his two seam fastball. And, when necessary, he can paint the corners. He pounds the zone with fastballs and attacks with his off speed pitches. His two seam fastball also produces a lot of ground balls.

Other Pitches. Here comes perhaps the biggest strength for Matt DeSalvo. He has one of the deepest repertoires of any minor leaguer pitcher you'll see and all of his pitches are quite serviceable for him. Out of all his pitches, his curveball is likely his second best. It is a 12-6 curve that he throws in the high 70's. It has a sharp break and his command is also strong with it. He has a forkball that he does not use often along with a decent slider. But, another nasty pitch he possesses is his changeup. It is arguably the best one in the Yankee farm system. Unlike most changeups, DeSalvo uses it as a strikeout pitch.

Pitching. There's no doubt that Matt DeSalvo has the aptitude to be a good starting pitcher. Although he is criticized for not having the ideal pitching body, he makes up for that with his competitive nature on the mound. "He's all about hating the batter", said his manager in Tampa, Bill Masse. He also said that DeSalvo hides the ball very well as a result of his slight back turn to the hitter before he delivers. The ball explodes on the batter and hitters simply don't get good swings off of him. DeSalvo produces excellent arm speed, as well. He has the ability to make hitters look foolish at the plate with his array of off speed pitches and a sneaky quick fastball. One thing he'll never do is back down to a hitter; he's the ultimate competitor.

Projection. No matter how you look at it, Matt DeSalvo is a pitcher who constantly exceeds expectations. In high school, scouts said he wasn't big enough to be a frontline starter. The same was said of him in college. Even when the Yankees signed him, no one seemed to take notice of him. But, the Pennsylvania native has proven over and over again that he is the real deal. While he may not be a future ace, he looks to be a very strong number two or three guy on a big league staff. The key for him is to keep his back healthy so he'll have the chance to do that.

ETA. 2006. If not for his sudden back injury in 2004, DeSalvo may have had a chance to make it to the Bronx in late 2005. However, he will spend most of his 2005 season back with Trenton. Then, he has a good chance of earning a late season promotion to Columbus. He should begin his season back with Columbus to start 2006 but he could get the call to the show at some point during the year if all goes according to plan.

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