Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Meet A Prospect : Eduardo Nunez

Eduardo Michelle Mendez Nunez was born on June 15th, 1987 in Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic and spent his High School years at the American Military Academy in San Juan, Puerto Rico. With a 6'0" 185 lb frame you can see why the New York Yankees signed Eduardo as an amateur free agent back in 2004. He was known as the heir apparent to Derek Jeter at one point, granted that was 357 errors ago, so the the potential is there especially with the bat. Eduardo is not eligible to be a free agent until after the 2018 season so barring a trade the Yankees and their fans should get to see plenty of Eduardo before his time is up in pinstripes.

When Nunez signed in 2004 the Yankees introduced him to his childhood idol, Derek Jeter, and told him that he would be the eventual replacement for the Yankees captain. The Yankees brass showed extreme confidence in Eduardo from the start and it showed in that press conference. Eduardo would not make his professional debut until the 2005 season with the Staten Island Yankees while putting up a triple slash of .313/.365/.427 and his bugaboo consisted of 28 errors. Eduardo would split time between Charleston and Tampa in 2006 putting up a combined .214/.261/.308 with 37 errors in the field. Eduardo would split the 2007 season with the same two teams improving both his triple slash to .251/.305/.306 and dropping his error total to 33 in the field. 2008 would see Eduardo spend the entire season in Tampa putting up a triple slash of .271/.305/.383 and lowering his errors to a then career low 19 errors. Eduardo would spend the 2009 season with the Trenton Thunder putting up a career high .322/.349/..433 but the fielding side got the better of him once again while he committed 33 more errors in the field. Eduardo would make it all the way to Scranton in AAA in the 2010 season putting up a triple slash of .289/.340/.381 with only 14 errors in the field across three infield positions.

Eduardo Nunez would be called up in August of that 2010 season replacing Lance Berkman while he was placed on the 15 day disabled list. On August 19th he would make his major league debut replacing Derek Jeter in the seventh inning fouling out in his only plate appearance. Two days later on August 21st he would get his first major league hit as he hit a go ahead RBI single and a week later he would hit his first major league home run and steal his first base against the Chicago Whitesox. All told in 30 games for the Yankees Nunez hit .280 with one home run, seven RBI's, and scored 12 runs. Nunez would not see the minor leagues in 2011 as he won the teams utility infielder job out of Spring Training while occasionally filling in for injured stars like Nick Swisher, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez. In 112 games Nunez hit a .265/.313/.385 with a team leading 20 errors

Nunez would start the 2012 season with the Yankees as well straight out of Spring Training and started at a blistering pace with a .294 average but also had four errors in only 58 chances in the field. After making two errors in a single game against the Tampa Bay Rays the Yankees decided to send Nunez down to work on being a short stop only rather than being a utility infielder. Nunez spent time with three different minor league affiliates in 2012 including the Gulf Coast Yankees, the Tampa Yankees, and the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees while rehabbing a broken thumb injury. In 41 minor league games in 2012 he only committed five errors and they were all at short stop for the Scranton team. Nunez was called back up to the Yankees big league club when rosters expanded on September 1st and played occasionally until the playoffs. Nunez was added to the American League Divisional roster but left off the Championship rosters but replaced Derek Jeter after he fractured his ankle against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. Although the Yankees would be swept out of the playoffs Eduardo Nunez had a shining star kind of moment when he hit his first career post season home run off Justin Verlander.

Eduardo once again looks to come out of camp with the Yankees on the big league roster, hopefully with his mental blocks in the field behind him. As a short stop and second basemen only the Yankees roster looks a lot less flexible than it normally does but I think Nunez has the ability to hit for a high average and hit for power in the middle of that infield so whatever it takes to get his head on right. I look forward to seeing that million dollar smile more in the 2013 season.

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