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Yates Thrives in New Role
A player you did not expect to be a top level prospects suddenly has an outstanding season. It happens every year, and 2005 was the year for the unknowns to make themselves known in a dramatic fashion. One of the handful of minor league players that splashed on the radar in 2005 was Kyle Yates. The right-hander was a product of the 2004 draft, a draft that currently is looking to be an outstanding one for the Blue Jays. Yates was a 13th round selection in the 2004 draft and was signed to his first professional contract on July 21. The Blue Jays sent the University of Texas product to the NY-Penn League to pitch for the Auburn Doubledays. Yates made nine appearances out of the bullpen and went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. The 22-year-old, however, was not happy with his role and was looking for a chance to prove himself. "I told the organization from the beginning that being a starter was something I wanted to try" Yates told InsideTheDome yesterday. "I feel more comfortable as a starter. I throw in the low 90s and I feel I can set up my pitches well and throw strikes with all three of my pitches." Yates throws a fastball in the 88-91 MPH range and has an effective changeup. His best pitch and his strikeout pitch is a curveball, and one American League scout who saw Yates on two occasions this season believes his curveball is on its way to being a major league pitch. Yates entered spring training with the mindset as a starter. As he showed positive results the organization allowed him to assume the starters role, a decision that currently looks like a no-brainer. "I am grateful that the organization gave me this chance to start. I believe I will be much more successful in this role." The right-hander had a rough first outing as he allowed five runs in five innings of work. He settled down over his next six starts to throw six quality starts. Yates had seven starts under his belt and was 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA but the conversion to a starter still had flaws to be worked out. In two of his next four starts Yates issued nine runs in those outings and saw his numbers take a big hit. "I started out slow with Lansing, and that was mostly because I was getting myself acclimated to the starters role. I was not a starter for several years and towards the second half of the my season with Lansing, I started to get a feel for it and settle in." "My main goal was to get stronger as the year went on, and I feel like I did. I was a better pitcher toward the end of the season." During his last three starts with Lansing, he threw nineteen innings, allowing just three runs, issuing three walks and striking out twenty-eight batters. Fourteen starts into the season, Yates received a promotion to the Florida State League. "He made me look like a fool" said Dawn Church, a follower of the minor league system and a special assignment writer for InsideTheDome. "He had an ERA of almost five when he received a promotion and I was surprised that he did, but that just goes to show you can't always take the numbers seriously." Yates also made fourteen starts with Dunedin and finished the season 7-3 with a 1.91 ERA. His worst start with Dunedin was his Florida State League debut, when he allowed four runs in five innings of work. Yates would go on to allow three runs just once, and two runs only twice. In ten of his fourteen starts he allowed either one run or less, while recording ten strikeouts on two occasions and five or more strikeouts seven times. "As a starter you try to get into a role and be consistent with everything you do, and I feel I achieved that at the end of the season." Yates will not be pitching this off-season so his could give his arm some rest. The organization told him he will remain a starter in 2006 and the right-hander is looking to improve more this winter. "I want to build more arm strength" said Yates. It would be great if I can just pick up more velocity, but that does not always come naturally. I will focus on working the lower half of my body, which will enable me to be more explosive on the mound." Yates has one thing in mind for the 2006 season and that is to be challenged. When asked at which level he believe he will start off in 2006, Yates said that is a decision the organization will have to make but he is hoping to be given a challenge. "I'm not saying I believe I am too good for Dunedin, but I hope and want to get challenged next season. I hope the organization presents me with the challenge to begin at Double-A and I am anxious to show them how I can perform"
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