Scouting Yankees Prospect #42: Zach Nuding

Nuding gives the organization some options

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Zach Nuding in the 30th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Weatherfield College. Always known for his power arm, he has slowly and steadily been developing the other areas of his game over the past two years to the point where he has become more of a pitcher and not a pure thrower.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Zach Nuding
Position: Pitcher
DOB: March 29, 1990
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 250
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He has always been known for his strong stature and even more powerful arm, one which could hit as high as 98 mph on any given day. But he has been working diligently on improving his secondary pitches since signing with the Yankees two years ago and the hard work is beginning to pay off.

"We've been trying to tighten the [slider] up with him this year," Tampa pitching coach Jeff Ware told earlier this season. "We have been trying to keep the pitch velocity in the mid-80's and have some tilt on the pitch.

"Instead of the pitch breaking on a flat plain, we are getting him to keep his arm speed, stay behind the baseball and get tilt with his quickness. That's so we don't get a slider with a hump on it, like we have seen in the past as well as earlier this year."

It still isn't quite the swing-and-miss pitch that Nuding and his coaches would like it to be, but the right-hander continues to make it a priority in his bullpen sessions and actual games.

"I'm heavy with both right now," Nuding said mid-season. "Since I have been throwing it consistently lately in bullpens, flat ground and game situations, it has become a pitch I can throw for strikes when I need to or as a ground ball play or strikeout pitch. I would say the slider has made me more versatile."

The slider has at least given opposing batters more to think about than just the fastball and Nuding, once primarily just a fastball pitcher, has his third pitch developing into a more reliable offering lately as well.

"I want to throw [the changeup] more so I can become comfortable with it and throw it for strikes, and I want it to be just as good as my slider and fastball in terms of a strikeout pitch," Nuding said.

"I just want to work on changeup command as well as command in general with my fastball inside and out on the plate, and just overall being consistent on the mound and taking that from start to start."

No longer a one-trick pony, Nuding has steadily improved his game to the point where he isn't just a grip it and rip type power arm -- he has learned to improve his overall pitch-ability and setup batters better.

"I think it's a real big deal [the changeup]," Ware said. "Right now he has a fastball and slider, and as a starting pitcher you need at least three solid pitches and if he wants to move up to Double-A, he will have to do that.

"We have been stressing that to him duand he's going to keep throwing the change more and more."




















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Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Nuding is a physically strong presence on the mound, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in at a svelte 245 pounds. And it certainly helps that while he can crank up the fastball to 98 mph at times, the fastball itself is a heavy ball so even if batters get the barrel on the ball it's almost like clubbing a bowling ball. He sits mostly in the 91-94 mph range with his heater and he has very good command of his fastball, especially in the lower-half of the strike zone lately.

Other Pitches. Nuding's best secondary pitch is his slider. It sits mostly in the 83-85 mph range and it can be a good strikeout pitch at times, but it isn't a consistent swing-and-miss pitch just yet and that's because the break can be not so late-breaking like it needs to be. Once a non-existent pitch, it has come a long way and still has room to get better. His changeup is also an inconsistent pitch for him. It gets some decent fade and he can throw it for strikes, but it's also a pitch that can be hit the hardest among his three offerings.

Pitching: Nuding is a pain to hit off of because the secondary pitches aren't overwhelming and the fastball doesn't generate a ton of movement either, making it seem like he could be hit hard. However, all of his pitches are difficult to muscle up because of the heavy feel to them, even his mistake pitches. Naturally strong too, all he does is throw strikes, maintain his velocity, and pitch deep into games. He can get a little fastball heavy at times though and that can make him a bit predictable over the course of a game, an aspect that may or may not get exposed facing more experienced hitters. The one area of his game that has gotten consistently better has been his ability to keep his pitches down in the strike zone.

Projection. Nuding is a bit of an enigma. His physical presence is that of Joba Chamberlain on the mound, one who can attack batters with a power fastball that hits the mid-to-high 90s with regularity in shorter stints and the fastball can be even better than Chamberlain's because it's a bit heavier and more consistently in the lower-half of the zone. However, he doesn't have the knockout secondary pitch to get batters to miss more and that clouds his projection as late-inning reliever type right now. The slider-changeup combination is average enough though to keep hitters off-balance a couple of turns through the lineup, giving him some middle to back-end starting pitching potential even though he seems physically better suited for the bullpen. Watch the further development of his slider closely. Should that make another leap or two in the breaking action department, he could and should be better served as a potential setup man.

ETA. 2014. Nuding is all set to join the Double-A Trenton rotation in 2013 and he should be able to offer the Yankees a couple of in-house role options at the big league level at some point the following year.

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