In nearly 600 minor league innings, Ivan Nova never posted impressive numbers until the 2010 season in Triple-A, and even then, he was strong but not eye-popping.
In just under 400 minor league games, Brett Gardner was a slap hitting fourth outfielder, right up until he posted a .345 OBP, helping the Yankees to a championship as part of the center-field platoon. After that, the Brian Cashman and Co were confident enough in Gardner to trade away Melky Cabrera.
Who's to say what David Phelps will bring to the team when the 25 year-old takes his first turn in the Yankees' rotation? His minor league numbers look better than Ivan Nova's (fewer BB/9, more K/9) over 500 innings of work. On the other hands, Phil Hughes' numbers look worlds better than Nova's, yet few Yankee fans would give Hughes the ball.
I've been thinking about prospects, hype, and the MLB learning curve a fair amount lately. Hughes seems to be pitching his way back to the bulpen; uber-prospects Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are back in the bigs; Delmon Young's attitude is making more headlines than his bat.
I could run through the numbers, but the generalities are fairly common knowledge: after the first 10-15 players in a draft in any given year, who's a superstar and who's average and who's a bust becomes a crap shoot.
So, don't be surprised if David Phelps becomes the latest underrated anchor in the Yankees' rotation.