Ivan Nova, Right Handed Pitcher
Ranked 8th Best Yankee Prospect
|AAA (2 seasons)||3.57||35||35||212.0||207||89||84||14||76||158||1.335||8.8||0.6||3.2||6.7||2.08|
|A (1 season)||4.98||21||21||99.1||121||64||55||8||31||54||1.530||11.0||0.7||2.8||4.9||1.74|
|AA (1 season)||2.36||12||12||72.1||65||27||19||3||31||47||1.327||8.1||0.4||3.9||5.8||1.52|
|Rk (1 season)||2.72||10||5||43.0||36||13||13||5||7||36||1.000||7.5||1.0||1.5||7.5||5.14|
|A+ (1 season)||4.36||26||24||148.2||168||81||72||6||46||109||1.439||10.2||0.4||2.8||6.6||2.37|
|162 Game Avg.||4.50||40||28||168||176||88||84||16||68||8||104||96||1.452||9.4||0.9||3.6||5.6||1.53|
At this point, Ivan Nova is probably New York’s #4 starter. That’s important because even if the Yankees go out and sign a reclamation project or innings eater (or Andy Pettitte), Nova will still probably edge out Sergio Mitre in the Yankee rotation. He will be an important piece of the 2011 team. I’ve never been Ivan Nova’s biggest fan, but I finally caved in and ranked him the #8 overall prospect in the Yankee organization. I acknowledge the two major things that Nova brings to the table: he is a healthy, MLB-ready starting pitcher, and he’s got the ability to get hitters out fairly consistently. There’s a lot of value there – Nova’s a pretty sure bet to hang around the majors in some capacity for some time. I think (mainly due to his very strong fastball) that he’s got a better than average chance of being a mid-4s ERA type pitcher, who pitches a decent number of innings while keeping the team in the game. I recently compared him to Joe Blanton in that regard.
Unlike Blanton, who mixes his pitches, Ivan Nova mostly relies on a really good fastball to get hitters out. It averaged 93 mph last season according to Fangraphs, spiking as high as 97. Both his 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs move pretty well, and when Nova is doing well he generates ground balls from that movement. He also throws a curveball – a robust 25% of the time last season – even if its fairly lackluster. He doesn’t get any serious number of strikeouts from it, and doesn’t really throw it for strikes much. Nova’s bread and butter will always be throwing hard, moving fastballs, and at this point there’s not much hope of changing that. However, I think that marginal improvements in control, his curveball, and possibly his changeup could have big impacts on his performance.
I think that small improvements can have a big impact for one main reason: Nova’s biggest problem is that he threw too many pitches in the major leagues. In a season where he averaged 6.3 innings per start at Triple-A, Nova failed to pitch 6 innings in 6 of 7 starts. He ran pitch counts up high in part because he was afraid to throw strikes to batters – something that he only sometimes struggled with in the minor leagues. Despite not striking out a ton of batters, Nova has always been generally hard to hit hard. If he can grow a little more efficient, he’ll give up 3 or 4 runs a game, but if he pitches into the 7th inning no one will notice too much.
If Nova can find a way to pitch 6 innings per start on average, he should be able to put up something like 200 innings (Shouldn’t be too hard – he pitched 187 in 2010) and a 4.40-4.70 ERA per season. That’s valuable. He’d be the best starter on the Royals right now, and better than AJ Burnett was last season. If he’s a little worse than that, the Yankees may want to consider a bullpen conversion. He’s a flame thrower, and his fastball would play better in short stints. Still, we’re not anywhere near that point right now. The Yankees have a cheap, young, flexible option who has never had a hint of health issues right now ready to pitch in the major leagues.