• Vidal Nuno

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2013 · Comments (4)

    More on him via Bryan Hoch -

    Vidal Nuno “has opened everyone’s eyes” and is making a run at breaking camp with the Yankees, according to general manager Brian Cashman.

    A 25-year-old left-hander who was originally property of the Indians and signed with the Yankees after pitching in independent ball, Nuno has compiled an 0.68 ERA in 13 1/3 Grapefruit League innings and may wind up being rewarded with a spot in New York’s bullpen.

    “I just go day by day, wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, look in the mirror and say, ‘You’ve got to work hard,’” Nuno said. “I don’t play the GM, I don’t think like that. It’s just having another day on the baseball field and putting on the uniform.”

    Nuno’s statistics do not include what he has also done against the Yankees this spring; with the Dominican Republic short on pitching for a March 6 exhibition at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Nuno was borrowed by manager Tony Pena’s club and spun four hitless innings in a spot start.

    For his participation, Nuno — who grew up near San Diego and is of Mexican descent — was rewarded with a souvenir Dominican Republic T-shirt and cap. It was a neat footnote in what has been a breakout spring for the hurler, who pitched last year at Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.

    “I don’t think or overthrow, and I hit my spots,” Nuno said. “That’s one key I preach to myself, just hit location and make the ball dance, and you’ll get people out.”

    A 48th-round pick of the Indians in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft who received a non-roster invitation to camp this spring, Nuno could make the club because left-hander Clay Rapada will start the year on the disabled list while he builds back up from a bout with left shoulder bursitis. Nuno said that he has expanded his repertoire to include two fastballs, a curveball, slider, changeup and cutter.

    “I don’t throw hard, so I need to make the ball dance a little bit,” Nuno said.

    After being cut loose by Cleveland after two seasons in its farm system, Nuno made six starts for the Washington Wild Things in 2011 before having his contract purchased by the Yankees.

    I saw Nuno pitch in person last summer. I like him and wish him well. And, I have to say, if he makes it, sticks, and has success, you have to give the Yankees credit for seeing something that many others didn’t…

    Comments on Vidal Nuno

    1. Evan3457
      March 24th, 2013 | 1:08 am

      I saw Nuno pitch in person last summer. I like him and wish him well. And, I have to say, if he makes it, sticks, and has success, you have to give the Yankees credit for seeing something that many others didn’t…

      OK, first…the odds are against Nuno making the team.
      Second…the odds that he contributes significantly are also slim.
      Third…having said that, THIS is why it’s silly to call the search for talent on the waiver wire and among minor and major league free agents (not the big ticket ones) “dumpster diving”.

      At the back of EVERY major league roster are at least 5 guys whose notional talent level is ‘replacement’, as in, they can be replaced from the pool of free, available talent with no loss in quality to the team.

      A small percentage of these players, each year, will break through and have a significant positive impact with the teams that sign them and put them on the 25-man roster.

      It isn’t really because their past team(s) were “stupid”, or “didn’t know what they had”, or were “lousy at player development”. Most of the time it happens because the player find himself in a usage situation which favors to his talents and camouflages his weaknesses. Sometimes it happens because the player himself just a personal breakthrough. The best ones are both of these things together.

      Of the small percentage that breakthrough and have a significantly positive season, most will regress, sliding slowly back into obscurity. A small percentage of the small percentage will be able to turn the breakthrough into a career-changer, putting together a number of seasons of significantly positive play. An even smaller percentage will break through to becoming regulars, even for a short number of years. Almost none will become true stars.

      In any event, it’s really silly to pay millions of dollars for “proven” players to fill those slots. The difference in ability is small; the perceived difference in reliability is very often a mirage.

      If Nuno makes it “big”, relatively speaking, then Cashman (or whoever) deserves no great praise for it; all well-run teams do this to other teams all the time, because “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

      =========================================

      A paradigm of this is the Marlins trade for Justin Ruggiano, who hit like Matt Holliday last year in his half-season-plus for the Marlins. They “heisted” him from the Astros in a trade for a grade B catching prospect. The Astros had signed him as a minor league free agent after he was released by the Rays. The Rays had gotten him from the Dodgers as a throw-in in the Dioner Navarro-Toby Hall trade in 2006. The Dodgers had drafted Ruggiano in the 24th round in 2004.

      This means:

      1) 29 teams “missed” on Ruggiano at least 23 times each in 2004.
      2) The Dodgers, who could’ve used Ruggiano at some point last year, when their outfield went down with injuries, “didn’t know what they had” when they threw him into the Hall-Navarro deal.
      3) The Rays could’ve used a good bat in an outfield corner spot at least a couple of times in the past several years, “didn’t know what they had” when they let him go free agent last off-season.
      4) And the Astros, whose OF was declared a National Disaster Area last season, “didn’t realize what they were giving up” when they traded him.

      So, are all these teams run by fools? Hardly. No one is better regarded in the business right now than Friedman, and Luhnow has an excellent reputation from his time with the Cards.

      No, the real truth is that Ruggiano has most likely had his time to shine, and toward the end of the season, his star was already starting to burn out. (1.072 OPS through July 31st. .758 for the rest of the season. .676 in September.) These sorts of flare ups happen to just about every team, every year (both good and bad), and very rarely is there substantial long-term gain or loss.

      Call it luck, kismet, random chance, whatever. Lots of players have enough talent to play well at the major league level for a short burst of time; tons more players than there are major league jobs available for them, in fact. Only a few can sustain it, let alone improve over time.

    2. March 24th, 2013 | 9:02 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Call it luck, kismet, random chance, whatever. Lots of players have enough talent to play well at the major league level for a short burst of time; tons more players than there are major league jobs available for them, in fact. Only a few can sustain it, let alone improve over time.

      That’s why I think it’s silly to give Cashman credit for the Smalls and Chacon’s, etc.

    3. Greg H.
      March 25th, 2013 | 8:31 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      That’s why I think it’s silly to give Cashman credit for the Smalls and Chacon’s, etc.

      I think that was the point – he doesn’t get credit for the Smalls and Chacons, but he also doesn’t get blasted for “dumpster diving.”

    4. Raf
      April 28th, 2014 | 7:34 am

      Fangraphs’ David Laurila had a little writeup about Nuno
      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/sunday-notes-marlins-yankees-killer-vs-king-kong/

      ——

      Vidal Nuno has experienced a lot at a relatively young age. The 26-year-old southpaw went from California to Kansas before Cleveland took him in the 48th round of the 2009 draft. Two years later he was pitching in the independent Frontier League. Last week he replaced the injured Ivan Nova in the New York Yankees starting rotation.

      How did Nuno end up at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas?

      “It was about opportunities and needing to see the world a little bit, see the United States,” explained Nuno. “I talked to family members, and a couple of scouts told me the best way to get my name out there was to move on from San Diego. I had options – I could have gone to San Diego State – but I needed to get out and meet new people, have some new connections.

      “I wasn’t drafted out of high school. I was a small kid, barely throwing 82, but I had good command and a heart that made me compete. I had that going for me.”

      Those attributes were enough for Nuno to excel at the small-college level and get drafted. They weren’t enough to keep him in pro ball. The Indians released him after a nondescript first full professional season in low-A. I asked the stocky lefty if he feared his career might be over when he was let go.

      “Oh yeah,” admitted Nuno. “That’s always a question when you get released, or even when things aren’t going your way. It was a little downfall for me. What they told me was there weren’t enough innings where I was at. They’d drafted a lot of pitchers the last two years and there is always going to be a depth chart. Teams are going to give the chances to the guys who got the bonus money. It’s about getting an opportunity, and when I’ve gotten an opportunity I’ve done my best to take advantage of it.”

      That’s exactly what Nuno has done since the Yankees signed him off the scrap heap. Despite a fastball that averages just 89 mph, he’s pitched himself onto a big league staff. How did he do it?

      “It’s been heart and work ethic,” opined Nuno. “I also added a changeup and a cutter from Double-A to now. I’ve always had good command, but instead of having two pitches, I have five or six. I use all of them. I have to.

      “It’s all about pressure points and arm action. I’m not a flamethrower. I’m a crafty guy. I have to be crafty and make the ball move. If I do that and locate in and out, it’s going to be a good day.”

      ——

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