Vidal Nuno could step up for Yankees

Updated: April 28, 2013, 2:18 PM ET
By Buster Olney

The Yankees' victory Friday was costly, as Jorge Arangure writes, because they lost catcher Francisco Cervelli and starting pitcher Ivan Nova. Austin Romine will be called up from the minors to replace Cervelli, and it's possible that the Yankees could use David Phelps for their rotation, or maybe Chien-Ming Wang.

But every season, there are players who seem to come out of nowhere to play important roles. Think about Lew Ford with the Orioles last year, who opened the year in independent baseball and wound up in the American League playoffs. Think about Dan Johnson, who has bounced around baseball as a part-time player and yet has twice served as a crossroads in history, with home runs for the Rays in crucial moments.

With that in mind, we present Vidal Nuno. He is 5-foot-not very much, weighs 100-and-not very much, and his fastball velocity is 80 mph plus not very much. He was a 48th-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2009, and was released after failing to advance past Class A. He signed with the Yankees and was assigned to Class A ball, because he isn't very big and doesn't throw very hard.

But it turns out there are two things that Vidal Nuno does very well. First, he has a tremendous changeup, which one evaluator compared to that of longtime big leaguer Chris Hammond. Second, he throws strikes. Like a machine.