Before 2009: Nova was signed by the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic as an 18-year-old in 2005. After spending his first season in the system in the Dominican Summer League (0-1, 2.29), he made his debut on American soil in 2006 when he was sent to the Gulf Coast League after a stay in extended spring training. He went 3-0 with a 2.72 ERA in 10 games, including five starts. His 7:36 BB/K ratio remains the best of his career, albeit in a small sample size.
Nova would spend the next two years of his career at the Yankees Single-A affiliates; 2007 in Low-A Charleston and 2008 in High-A Tampa. Neither season was particularly impressive — he went 6-8 with a 4.98 ERA in 21 starts with Charleston and 8-13 with a 4.36 ERA with Tampa — but he continued to progress through the system and generated some buzz around the big leagues despite his sub-standard numbers.
2009: Nova was picked in the Rule 5 draft by the San Diego Padres, but was most likely selected a year too early considering he hadn’t pitched above Single-A at that time. Returned to the Yankees after struggling, Nova started the season at Double-A Trenton at the back end of their rotation. He pitched somewhat surprisingly well, posting a 5-4 record and 2.36 ERA in 12 starts before being promoted to Triple-A Scranton in the middle of June. He made 12 starts there as well, but didn’t do anywhere near as well, going 1-4 with an ERA over five. His 59:90 BB/K ratio for the season is somewhat alarming, but he was never really known for getting deep into games, often working deep into counts, so that’s not particularly surprising.
After 2009: Added to the Yankees 40-man roster prior to the start of the 2010 season, Nova has no realistic chance to crack the Yankees roster out of camp. However, a September call-up wouldn’t be particularly surprising. He’d have to pitch quite well in Scranton to be at the front of the line for a promotion any time before then, however.
Had you asked me to name Nova’s Thunder numbers without looking, I wouldn’t have had them as good as they ultimately were…I didn’t remember him being terribly consistent, but he ultimately never took too much damage. Nova’s english wasn’t too great, so I didn’t get to speak with him too much, but he was always pleasant to chat with. Thought he was pretty confident in his abilities, perhaps a bit too confident…but we’ll see how things go for him this year.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com