Game Report: Arodys Vizcaino, P, Atlanta Braves
As a key piece in the deal which brought Javier Vazquez back to New York, Arodys Vizcaino arrived in Rome with high expectations and plenty of fanfare. Paired with Julio Teheran, the Rome rotation could boast two of the highest ceiling arms in all of minor league baseball. And while Teheran dominated, Vizcaino disappointed leaving Robinson Lopez as the second best Latin-American arm in the rotation in my mind.
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Physique and Athleticism: With a thick, well-developed core and strong legs, there’s no mistaking Vizcaino as a power pitcher. He creates very easy arm whip from a 3/4 slot which allows for excellent velocity despite a lack of leg drive. His present build limits future physical projection, but his learning to better incorporate his powerful legs could provide a couple of additional ticks on the radar gun. Other areas for improvement include his secondary offerings and increased fastball movement. His ultimate role is more than a bit murky in my mind as I am not comfortable slapping a starting pitcher projection on him based on the outing I was in attendance for. In fairness to Vizcaino, the runs he surrendered in Savannah were the last runs he gave up to South Atlantic League opponents as he reeled off 33 2/3 scoreless innings earning a promotion to Myrtle Beach.
Mound Presence: An intimidating presence,Vizcaino looked to be more of a thrower than pitcher at this point as he consistently worked around the zone, but did not locate particularly well. However, he did not hesitate to throw inside and attacked hitters relentlessly challenging them to square up on his fastball. In this outing, Sand Gnats hitters did just that as he allowed 6 R (3 ER) and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. To Vizcaino’s credit, he seemed unfazed when in trouble and continued to attack opposing hitters.
Fastball: At 92-94 MPH, touching 95 on a handful of occasions, it’s amazing to think Vizcaino was just the third hardest thrower on his own staff. What the pitch had in velocity, it lacked in movement and he left the pitch up in the zone a number of times leading to hard base hits. Vizcaino also had an inconsistent release point which can be clearly seen when Vizcaino throws from a side view. With his finishing tall and to a stiff front leg, he created little downward plane which could become an issue as he continues to move up the ladder. In speaking to scouts about plane, it is very difficult for a pitcher to become a viable starter with a flat fastball no matter how impressive the radar gun readings are.
Curveball: Inconsistent at this point in his development, the 81-82 MPH offering had its moments, but was not a consistently “tight” pitch considering its velocity. For every well-placed curveball on the outside corner, two hung over the heart of the plate. On one occasion, he threw a slower variation of the pitch at 75 MPH which would give him a distinct third speed offering as his current offspeed pitches are both in the low-80′s.
Changeup: His least developed pitch, but one with considerable potential, Vizcaino’s 83 MPH changeup left plenty to dream on. Like many young pitchers, he lets up on the pitch slightly tipping it off which should iron itself out as he throws it more. With a 9-12 MPH velocity separation, his letting the pitch rip at 85-86 MPH without having to guide it into the strike zone would really unlock the offerings potential.
Vizcaino’s performance highlights the importance of seeing a prospect as many times as possible. My sources were disappointed in his early performance and his sudden turnaround struck many as a surprise. His transition to high-A will be fascinating to watch as he is not nearly as advanced as Julio Teheran, the prospect he is constantly compared to for obvious reasons. It’s a similar situation to what happened in 2008 when Freddie Freeman posted a better stat line than Jason Heyward in Rome, yet was not nearly as impressive from a scouting standpoint which led to unfair prospect comparisons. Vizcaino is a quality prospect in his own right and I see less than a handful of arms per year with his pure arm strength. However, expect him to take his share of lumps as he progresses through the system. Unlike Teheran, Vizcaino will require a period of adjustment to each level as he works out the kinks.