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August 2012 Prospect Profile: Pitchers in the GCL

08/20/2012 1:10 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

After missing 2011 with an injury, Giovanny Gallegos has been dominant in 2012.(flickr.com/BeGreen90)
Although it’s technically a “Rookie Ball” league, the Gulf Coast League is often the first stop for pitchers rehabbing from long-term injuries; just this year alone, David Aardsma, Joba Chamberlain, and Pedro Feliciano have spent time with the GCL Yankees, with the trio combining as of August 21 for 12 scoreless innings and 18 strikeouts over nine appearances.

Even though they’re at less than 100 percent, it’s no surprise when Major League pitchers like the above trio overpower the youngsters who populate the GCL – but the youngest group of Baby Bombers also has a few freshman sensations who have been just as dominant in 2012.

Chief among them is Giovanny Gallegos, a 2010 signee who missed all of 2011 with a knee injury. The 21-year-old Mexican righty has jumped onto the prospect radar in a big way, pitching to a 1.80 ERA in 11 appearances through August 22 – with all five of the earned runs he’s allowed coming in the same outing against the GCL Pirates on August 14 – and striking out 20 over 25 innings.

As untouchable as Gallegos has been, righty Jordan Cote, the Yankees’ third-round pick in 2011, has been even better. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound 19-year-old is 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA through August 22 – having allowed just three earned runs in 27.2 innings pitched – and has struck out 25 against just four walks. After starting the season in relief, he moved into the rotation in mid-August, and through his first two starts had posted a line of 9 IP, 0 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, and 8 K.

Behind Gallegos and Cote, at the end of the GCL Yankees’ bullpen, Edison Mejia has also had a strong season. Through August 21, Mejia, a four-year veteran of the Dominican Summer League, had made 18 GCL appearances, finishing 15 games and recording 10 saves. The 22-year-old also has also struck out 19 in 19.1 innings pitched, and has pitched to a 3.26 ERA (seven ER allowed in those 19.1 IP) so far.

A few other pitchers of note, with stats through August 22: DSL vet Rony Bautista (3-1, 3.66 in 11 games) has struck out 48 in 39.1 IP, 2011 27th-round pick Chaz Hebert (1-1, 2.74 in 10 games) has 29 K in 23 IP, and 2012 top pick Ty Hensley (0-2, 3.00 in five games/four starts) has 14 Ks in his 12 IP but has been victimized by bad defense at times.

The GCL slate ends on August 25, and the Yankees were two games out of a post-season berth with four to go. Even if they do advance, the GCL Playoffs will be concluded by Labor Day weekend – so don’t be surprised if any or all of the hurlers mentioned above also get a quick look at Staten Island, as the NYPL’s Yankees don’t conclude their season until September 5.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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