Thursday, February 3, 2011

#3 Prospect: Arodys Vizcaino

Arodys Vizcaino was the prize of last winter's Javier Vazquez trade. At the time of the trade I was unsure of how I felt about it*, but with the benefit of a hindsight that includes Vazquez' disastrous 2010 campaign with the Yankees and Vizcaino's strong showing for the single-A Rome Braves, Frank Wren is looking pretty smart for making this move.

Vizcaino brings a fastball that sits 92-94 and touches 95 (even 96, according to a Mark Bowman source), an effective but inconsistent 82 MPH curve, and a very raw 80 MPH change.

Vizcaino's 2010 season was very similar to that of Julio Teheran - except that Vizcaino is about a month and a half older and was doing it at a lower level. In 72 1/3 IP of A-ball, Vizcaino struck out 68 against 9 walks while giving up just 63 hits for a WHIP of less than one. Upon a promotion to High-A Myrtle Beach, Vizcaino continued to display solid command of the strike zone but got hit pretty hard (8 extra base hits) in a limited 13 2/3 inning run before succumbing to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and getting shut down for the season. Luckily, Vizcaino was able to avoid Tommy John surgery, but the risk of re-injury casts a shadow over his 2011 season.

For that reason I think hope the Braves will be very conservative with Arodys in 2011. I expect him to be placed with Myrtle Beach or maybe Double-A Mississippi, depending on how good he looks as a spring training NRI. But I'd put his chances of reaching the big leagues at "approaching 0%" simply because the Braves have pitching depth and there's no reason to rush him. Barring injury, I expect him to show up in the big leagues by mid-2012 or Opening Day 2013 (the first game the Braves will play with Derek Lowe's contract off of the books).

Check out this video of Vizcaino throwing last June:

*In the article that I link to, I mention that the trade looks a lot better for the Braves if Melky Cabrera ends up getting traded or non-tendered, which I only bring up because I find it amusing.

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