(Courtesy of Perfect Game.org)
If you're a left-handed starting pitcher, you're automatically going to get more attention as a young draft pick/prospect than your right-handed counterparts. It's why I included Vidal Nuno in this year's AB4AR Top 30 over guys like Jose Ramirez and Branden Pinder, and why Matt Tracy was the focus of the first "Not A Prospect Yet" post this week. Daniel Camarena, despite not making any kind of noise in this year's Top 30, is an even more intriguing potential prospect than Nuno or Tracy because of his status as a young, high school pitcher. Camarena is fresh off his 20th birthday in November, and even with an extremely small 2012 sample size to evaluate, is the type of pitcher who could quickly make his way onto next year's Top 30.
Drafted out of high school in the 20th round of the 2011 draft, Camarena stands 6'0" tall, 200 pounds, and is a 3-pitch pitcher who relies heavily on command. His fastball won't blow anybody away, sitting high 80s-low 90s, but he commands it well and throws it for strikes consistently to set up his best offspeed pitch, his changeup. Camarena's change is very advanced for a pitcher so young, and has some movement on it, and combined with a solid curveball gives him 2 above-average offspeed pitches to work with. It's rare to see a high school pitcher with offspeed stuff this advanced, and even more rare to see a HS pitcher with the type of command and smooth mechanics that Camarena possesses, so it's easy to see why the Yankees overpaid him with a 6-figure signing bonus.
Camarena didn't pitch in any pro league after signing in 2011, and made a short 5-appearance debut for the GCL Yankees in 2012. He pitched just 17.2 innings in those 5 appearances, 3 of them starts, but showcased the advanced command and offspeed stuff for his age group in striking out 15 while walking none and only allowing 2 ER. Camarena's best outing was his last one, a 5-shutout inning relief appearance in which he allowed just 2 hits and struck out 4.
He's almost certainly more advanced than the competition level he'll face in short-season leagues, but Camarena is likely to start 2013 back in either the GCL or Staten Island after getting some work in Extended Spring Training. He was a 2-way player in HS and not just a dedicated pitcher, so he has a long way to go in terms of building up innings. I'm sure there are also some mechanical tweaks coaches will want to make to try to draw some more velocity and movement out of his fastball and curveball, and working from an already mechanically-sound delivery makes me think that's a strong possibility. If Camarena gets a full season's worth of work in the GCL a/o Staten Island, I think that would be excellent progress and a good foundation for consideration in next year's Top 30.