Yankees Scouting Report: LHP Wilkins Arias

Don't let his age detract from his ability

The Yankees took a gamble on then 24-year old left-handed pitcher Wilkins Arias when they signed him out of the Domincan Republic back in 2004. Dismissed for the most part by fans because of his advanced age, Arias has the look of a true sleeper prospect. Here's a scouting report on Wilkins Arias.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Wilkins Arias
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: April 11, 1980
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 170
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"I pitched very well this past season," Arias said of his 2006 season through the help of Livio Oleaga translating. "I thought [last] season was going to be worse than it was because I had a long year traveling and everything, but it was a really good year and I wasn't expecting that."

After posting a 1.40 ERA in eleven games in his professional debut in the Domincan Summer League in 2005 as a 25-year old, Arias was more than solid in his U.S. debut last season, going 9-6 with a 3.01 ERA for the Charleston Riverdogs.

While his overall numbers were very encouraging, especially limiting opposing South Atlantic League batters to a .231 average, it was the way he finished his first full minor league season that has the Yankees pretty excited.

Throwing just a plus fastball to start the year, Arias made huge strides developing his slider and changeup to become a more complete pitcher in the final month of the season, which included a 25-inning scoreless streak.

"At the beginning of the season he didn't have a changeup," Yankees Pitching Coordinator Nardi Contreras told us. "He had a slider but it wasn't quick and it wasn't located. I think he might have ended up with 25 or 30 scoreless innings at the end of the season [because] the slider and the changeup started working with his fastball."

The slider developed quicker for Arias and it easily has become his second best pitch behind his mid-90's fastball and he readily admits that the further development of his changeup is his next biggest hurdle.

"I need to work the most on my changeup," said Arias. "I need to work on my balance and my release points with my changeup. I throw very loose, so that helps."

Throwing loose is the first noticeable trait when watching him pitch. His effortless delivery, despite his slender frame, not only generates a lot of power but it allows him to pitch deeper into games.

"He has a plus fastball," added Contreras. "He's got sink, he's got a rubber arm, but you need that breaking ball and it started clicking, the changeup came around by slowing it down. It almost became like a batting practice fastball so it became a pitch the hitters could hit."

"But once that changeup came down in velocity, it became a better animal for him but it still wasn't consistent. But if he pitches with his slider and changeup like he did at the end of the year, there will be some good things for Arias."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2006

Charleston

9-6

140.2

118

53

114

3.01

2005

DSL

3-3

45.0

27

10

56

1.40



Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Curveball.

Fastball. Arias throws both a four-seamer and a sinking two-seamer. His four-seam fastball sits consistently in the 91-93 MPH range and can top off around 94-95 MPH. His two seamer averages 90-92 MPH with great sinking life and he has very good command of his fastballs.

Other Pitches. Arias' slider was almost night and day from the beginning of the season from a location standpoint. Sitting 85-87 MPH with his slider, it became a pretty reliable strikeout pitch for him by the end of the year. While the command of his changeup hasn't been great thus far, he really has vastly improved the velocity with it in a short period of time. As Nardi pointed out above, it was more of a batting practice fastball, sitting 85-87 MPH, the exact same speed of his slider. He learned to slow it down to the 81-83 MPH range by the end of the year and it gave opposing batters a truly different look.

Pitching. Arias' game is about power and looseness. He truly has a rubber arm and his diminutive stature surprises opposing batters as they can't believe such a small player can generate so much power. His advanced age, while a negative to some critics, is quite the positive in his development. He has a very cavalier attitude on the mound, almost seemingly playing with house money, and it allows him to pitch relaxed and not buckle under the pressure.

Projection. His effortless motion would be absolutely perfect in the starter's role as a true innings eater. But the fact is he'll be 27 years old in the first month of the 2007 season and, with his changeup command not where it needs to be, he is more of two-pitch hurler at this point. He projects more as a solid left-handed setup man at the big league level some day who could pitch in back-to-back games with relative ease. While it's true he is older than most prospects, the fact is, with just two seasons of professional baseball under his belt, his arm is very young and fresh.

ETA. 2009. There have been solid Major League relievers who didn't make their big league debuts before their 29th birthday, most recently with Brendan Donnelly when he made his debut at 30. Arias should begin the 2007 season in the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees and if he continues at his current pace, the Yankees' small gamble could pay dividends within another year or two.

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