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Nova's Time Is Coming Soon
This year, after starting with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, Nova got his first call-up to the big leagues. Although it didn't last long, it was a moment he won't soon forget, one he had been yearning for since he picked up a baseball.
"You cannot explain the feeling," exclaimed Nova. "You see the game through the TV and you say that you'll be there one day. The moment comes and I just stood there and looked around. It was amazing. I mean it was my dream come true and I was feeling pretty good [about my game]."
Even though he had shown flashes of dominance, he was part of an overcrowded field, and the Yankees left the young gun off their 40-man roster following the 2008 season, opening him up the Rule 5 Draft, in which he was swiped up by the San Diego Padres with the 20th overall selection.
But as Spring Training neared its completion before the start of the 2009 season, the Padres released Nova, where he went unclaimed and returned to the Yankees.
Although he started off slow last season, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Nova caught fire towards the end of May, rattling off a seven-game run where he allowed just 35 hits in 44 innings pitched, sporting a 1.22 ERA with a strikeout to walk ratio better than 2:1. And after a hot start to this season, his expectations were being met.
"I think everybody expected it [the hot streak]," said pitching coach Scott Aldred. "He's got a real good arm and quality pitches. He should pitch well, it's just a matter of whether he puts it all together."
Although his destination in 2010 would begin where the last season ended, in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, their were higher aspirations looming on the horizon for the 23-year-old as he was now one of the top options to get called up.
"I don't think like that, I just live in the moment," Nova said humbly. "If they call me up, they call me up. It doesn't matter if I'm first or not. I can't tell you if I'm going to be the first one or the last one, I don't really think about that. I will just do whatever I have to do and keep doing my job here until I get another shot."
Nova's stellar play on the mound in the minors earned him his first taste of the majors on May 10th. Although his appearances were limited, Nova showed flashes of potential. He threw 3.0 scoreless innings, surrendering four hits while striking out one.
The performances were solid, yet unspectacular, and Nova was sent back down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on May 16th. Despite the brief outing, Nova was pleased with his unveiling to the big leagues.
"I feel like I threw pretty good," said Nova. "It was short, but I feel like a did well with the opportunities given."
Since coming back down to Scranton, Nova has been, in a word, untouchable.
Before his call up to the big leagues, Nova served as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's staff ace, dominating opponents with a few plus pitches. Since coming back, he has been even better. In 13 starts since his return to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the hard-throwing righty [he's been consistently hitting 96 on the gun lately] has been mowing down hitter after hitter, and according to Aldred, it's because of the development of his secondary pitches.
"His stuff is pretty good and he's starting to throw some more strikes with his secondary pitches," said Aldred. "A lot of his stuff has come on lately. In his last five starts his slider has really come on, everything is just improving as the year goes on."
"I feel really good, as well as I can ask," said Nova. "I like the way I'm pitching right now, I'm confident, and things are working. I'm trying to do everything I can to be, I don't want to say perfect, but as close to it as I can."
In his last 10 games, perfect is the only way to describe his outings. In those outings, Nova has gone a perfect 7-0, sporting a razor sharp 2.13 ERA and striking out 49, and lasting at least 6.0 innings in each outing. It's no longer flashes of potential he's displaying, he's giving eye to his entire arsenal.
"I'm just working hard," said Nova. "I'm starting to get my slider back, and locating my fastball much better, everything is just working real good right now. But I never stop working, and on everything. I don't say I'm going to work on my fastball now then my changeup later. I work on everything all the time."
To get back there, he still needs to fine-tune some of the little things.
"[He needs to] just keep improving his command of his stuff and his situational pitching," said Aldred. "And he needs to learn how to read hitters better…just all the progressions for a young guy."
"I just got to keep improving and working hard," said Nova. "I know my time is coming one day. I don't know if it will be next week, September, or next year, but it will come so I have to be ready. I know it's going to come."
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