#10 Prospect- Arodys Vizcaíno, Starting Pitcher
In 2007, the New York Yankees signed then 16-year-old Arodys Vizcaíno as an international free agent. Vizcaíno spent two years in the Yankees system before being traded, along with Melky Cabrera and Mike Dunn, to the Atlanta Braves for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. In 2010, the right-hander pitched a half season in Atlanta’s minor league system before being shut down with a partially torn ligament in his throwing elbow. Vizcaíno came back with a strong year in 2011 and earned his first call-up to the major leagues late in the season. Shortly after earning his third consecutive ranking in the Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list, Vizcaíno underwent Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the entire 2012 season.
Vizcaíno came to the Cubs at the trade deadline in 2012, on the heels of a botched trade (Ryan Dempster vetoed a trade to the Braves because Theo and Hoyer allegedly failed to present the deal to Dempster before releasing the terms to the media). In an attempt to mend fences with the Braves and GM Frank Wren, the Cubs agreed to trade Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to the Braves for Vizcaíno and Jaye Chapman. Vizcaíno spent the remainder of 2012 recovering from his Tommy John surgery. The injury kept Vizcaíno on the DL into the beginning of 2013, and early in the season he had a second surgery to clear out calcium build-up in his throwing elbow. Vizcaíno missed the remainder of the 2013 season.
After that incredibly long background, Vizcaíno is one of the more promising prospects in the Cubs’ system. While it may seem as though he has been in the minor leagues forever, Vizcaíno is only 23. In his career, the right-hander has thrown 268 2/3 minor league innings, posting a 2.91 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP and a K/BB ratio of more than 4:1 (for an explanation of what a good WHIP says about a pitcher, see Down on the Farm: Pierce Johnson). Vizcaíno has been clocked at over 100 MPH in the past, and earned recognition for his curveball while in the Yankees’, Braves’ and Cubs’ systems.
The combination of good velocity, good movement, and great control (just 68 walks in his 268 innings) suggest that Vizcaíno has the potential to be an excellent major league pitcher. The obvious concern with Arodys is his health. It would be very challenging to project what this righty is capable of based on previous statistics because he is already over two years removed from his last live action. One can argue that 2014 will be the make or break season for Vizcaíno. He will have to prove once again that he is capable of competing at the major league level and the first step towards doing that is staying healthy. As recently as December, Theo stated that Vizcaíno’s fastball is topping off at 98 MPH and that he has good movement on his breaking pitches. With such a live arm, and clearly an excellent track record in his previous minor league experience, Vizcaíno projects as a top end starter or back end reliever (possibly a closer?).
Again, all of this depends on whether or not Vizcaíno can stay healthy. If healthy, Vizcaíno seems to be every bit as exciting as CJ Edwards and could be ready to move up to the big league club between late 2014 (optimistic, but possible) and late 2015. If he cannot stay healthy, 2014 will likely be Vizcaíno’s last year as a top ten Cubs prospect.