|Couldn't find a pick of Rafael DePaula, so I will represent him with his native Republica Dominicana flag.|
Many people have been wondering about Rafael DePaula lately. There are a ton of questions about him since he represents an intriguing option who, given his age and stuff, could be a very quick mover through the Yankees system and could bolster our minor league system and help to fill the void that Jesus Montero left. Since signing with the Yankees November 19, 2010, DePaula has not thrown a single pitch for any of the affiliated minor league teams. This is because the contract he signed is dependent on a resolution to his visa issues, which have been ongoing since he gave a fraudulent birth certificate to the United States government on his arrival here. He was signed for $700,000, and has been waiting on his visa since signing, probably before that. It seems that the US government is intent on making an example out of him, although recent reports have been saying that his lawyer believes the situation will be resolved before this season starts. If that is the case, DePaula could take the organization by storm, as no one seems to know much about him. He has spent the last year or so working out of the Yankees baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. I have not confirmed this but according to a friend of mine, he may or may not already have his visa. The major thing he is waiting on now is the MLB investigation. I would have to imagine that getting his visa from the US government would expedite the process of the investigation, so maybe we will see him this year.
Rafael DePaula is 6'3, 212 lbs, 20 years old, and he has a fastball that sits from 92-94, while scouts say he has been known to dial it up to 97. The fastball has good life on it. His three secondary pitches are a curveball, slider, and change up. The curveball has good spin on it. I'm sure that when he comes stateside his arsenal will be tinkered with by Yankees coaching, but scouts believe that these three pitches are actually very polished based on his level of experience. His mechanics are consistent, smooth, and fluid. According to scouts, his control is also impressive.
Here is a video showcasing his stuff. He does seem to be a bit wild though. http://vimeo.com/10406016. Here's another video as well, which to me shows how fluid his delivery is. http://vimeo.com/5265661
Based on his repertoire, he profiles as a 2-3 starter with a ceiling of a number one starter. This projection, however, hinges on the scouting reports being accurate. Accuracy is no guarantee when so few scouts have really had the opportunity to look at him. A 20 year old kid with polished secondary offerings to go along wiht a fastball that reaches 97 is destined for the starting rotation. The question remains whether all of this is true or just legend.
His estimated time of arrival would depend on a lot of things. He might skip short season ball altogether at this point given his advancing age, so Charleston is certainly not out of the question. If he were to start 2012 there, we would be looking at one of the most exciting groups of players ever to come through the Yankees farm system all on one team. Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Ben Gamel, Dante Bichette Jr., Jose Campos, and Rafael DePaula might trump the 2007 Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Jose Tabata et. al. Anyway, I digress. He is a prospect that could move very quickly if he is as polished as scouts say. It's not out of the question that he could move up to High A Tampa before the end of the season and then up to AA to start next year. That would put him on target for a possible 2014-2015 major league debut.