Grant Duff led the GCL Yankees in strikeouts
The Gulf Coast League Yankees, unable to defend their 2005 GCL Championship, went 31-20 this season mostly on the strength of their incredible pitching staff and missed the playoffs by one game. 25 pitchers combined for a 2.92 ERA and an amazing 1.09 WHIP ratio while averaging nearly one strikeout per inning pitched as a staff.
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With a ton of pitching performances to choose from, it was hard to whittle it down to the top three overall. RHP Zach McAllister tied for the team lead with five wins, going 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA and solid numbers across the board.
19-year old Ivan Nova went a perfect 3-0 with one save and a 2.72 ERA in ten games for the GCL Yankees while holding opposing batters to a .229 average.
And widely regarded eighth round pick Dellin Betances baffled hitters after signing a little late, going 0-1 with a 1.16 ERA in seven starts and holding hitters to a .173 batting average. Even though he struck out more than one batter per inning pitched, it still wasn't one of the top three pitching performances in the Gulf Coast League this year - that's how dominant the team staff was in 2006.
Left-handed Michael Dunn, a first-year convert, began his career with the Yankees as a first baseman and an outfielder. When his bat didn't immediately come around as quickly as Dunn and the Yankees would have liked, they moved him to the mound in May and he promptly pitched like a seasoned veteran.
Dunn made 11 appearances for the GCL Yankees, tying for the team-lead, and went a perfect 3-0 and led the team with four saves this season. Aside from holding opposing batters to a .155 batting average overall and handcuffing lefties to a paltry .125 clip, he posted a 0.73 ERA in his first taste of professional pitching.
"I'll tell you what, he's going to move fast," Yankees Minor League Pitching Coordinator Nardi Contreras told us back in July. "He's a lefty with a strong arm. He throws 91 MPH already and he'll throw four or five of them in a row. He's learned his delivery, a changeup, and a slider already."
While Dunn was a stalwart southpaw out of the bullpen for the Gulf Coast League Yankees, Angel Reyes was nearly as dominant as a starter for the GCL Yankees in 2006. The 19-year old Reyes also earned three victories while saving three games as well, posting a 1.35 ERA in eleven games.
Reyes held opposing batters to a .156 batting average and he led the entire staff with a 0.84 WHIP ratio while striking out nearly one batter per inning pitched.
"He's special too," GCL Yankees pitching coach Carlos Reyes said of Reyes. "The most impressive thing for me has been he's working on developing his changeup. It's starting to come and he's got real good confidence."
But as impressive as McAllister, Nova, Betances, Dunn, and Reyes were with the Gulf Coast League Yankees, nobody was more dominant all season long than Grant Duff - our "GCL Yankees Pitcher of the Year".
"Outstanding," GCL pitching coach Carlos Reyes used to describe Duff, "he's been great. He's worked his butt off. He's done everything I asked him. He's got a great fastball and a great slider. He uses his height. He's got a great angle on his fastball."
Duff went 5-1 with a 1.14 ERA, tying for the team-lead in wins and leading the club with 59 strikeouts, which was 14 more than the second highest total [Angel Reyes] on the team. His .155 batting average against tied Michael Dunn for the staff lead and his 0.91 WHIP ratio was among the best on the team.
"He's a power arm," said Nardi Contreras. "He throws 95 MPH with ease and he's got a breaking ball that is kind of like Frankie Rodriguez."
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