Once one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, Arodys Vizcaino has had a very tough past two seasons. In fact, the talented 23-year-old RHP has not thrown a pitch in a competitive baseball game since 2011. The Chicago Cubs have been very patient with Vizcaino as he has struggled to come back from an elbow injury, but he now finally appears to be ready to go.
The Cubs acquired Vizcaino in a mid-season trade in 2012 when they sent Paul Maholm to the Atlanta Braves. Vizcaino was recovering from Tommy John surgery at the time of the trade, but with the Cubs’ lack of impact pitching prospects, they decided to take a chance on him. The Cubs patiently waited for Vizcaino to recover in 2012, but he had a setback before the 2013 season and had another surgery on that elbow. Vizcaino sat out all of 2013, but he is now apparently healthy and ready to go.
Since he has not pitched for two seasons, it is almost impossible to predict what Vizcaino will look like this season. Before the injuries, Vizcaino was a hard throwing righty with deceptive stuff. His fastball sat in the mid 90s and had some nice movement, and he also threw a great slider that had incredible late break. He was a pure strikeout pitcher who struggled with his control a little bit, but the talent was obvious.
Early reports out of Cubs’ Spring Training have been extremely positive about Vizcaino. He threw a bullpen session on Saturday, and members of the organization raved about his stuff. It appears that Vizcaino still has the raw talent to be a dominant pitcher in the big leagues. Hopefully, the injuries were just a bump in the road at the beginning of a great career.
Vizcaino pitched as a starter throughout the minor leagues, but he came up with the Braves out of the bullpen. Because of his arm issues and durability concerns, most scouts now believe that Vizcaino is strictly a relief pitcher, although one with huge upside. Obviously, the Cubs would love for Vizcaino to become a starter once again. For now he appears to be coming out of the bullpen, but if all goes well I would not be surprised to see the Cubs stretch him out as a starter eventually.
Right now, the most important thing is that Vizcaino stays healthy. Obviously he would love to get a spot on the opening day roster, but he just needs to be on the mound consistently this season. Because of a numbers crunch in the pitching staff, I would be surprised to see Vizcaino start out the season in Chicago. That being said, he can certainly go down to triple-A and prove that he belongs.
2014 is an incredibly significant season for Vizcaino. If he shows the stuff that he had back in 2011, Vizcaino instantly becomes one of the most important players in the organization.