Arodys Vizcaino came into pro ball as a Yankees J2 signing in 2007 out of the Dominican Republic. Nobody seems to have his signing bonus listed anywhere, so let's assume it was a pittance. He went straight to the Gulf Coast League in 2008 and began moving up the prospect ranks, finishing the 2009 season as the Yankees' third best prospect according to BA, wielding monster velocity on his fastball and a devastating curveball. He was sent to the Braves in December of 2009 in a trade that sent him, Melky Cabrera, and Mike Dunn to Atlanta in exchange for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. He continued as he always had, dominating the Sally League before getting promoted to the Braves' Carolina League affiliate.
It was after a short stint in the Carolina League that Vizcaino's injury woes first began to turn up, suffering a partial tear of an elbow ligament after just three starts and getting shut down for the remainder of the 2010 season. He returned in 2011 after a winter of rehabbing, and went back to beating up minor league foes and racing to the big leagues, posting a 3.06 ERA with 100 Ks in 97 innings across high-A, AA, and AAA ball. He got his first taste of the big leagues in August of that season, appearing in 17 games out of the Braves' bullpen and posting a 4.67 ERA while striking out a batter an inning.
In March of 2012, Vizcaino's torn elbow ligament finally gave out, and he underwent Tommy John surgery. He was traded to the Cubs in the Paul Maholm deal while still on the disabled list, and, due to setbacks in his recovery, has yet to throw a pitch for any level of the Cubs organization at this point.
Before he got hurt, Vizcaino was one of baseball's top pitching prospects. He had a 93-95 mph fastball that topped out at 97, and it might be his second-best pitch. The only negative about his sharp curveball was that he threw it too much. Refining his changeup and improving his fastball command were on his to-do list. Assuming Vizcaino regains full health, the biggest question will be his future role. Chicago sees a potential No. 2 starter while his detractors think his track record indicates that he won't hold up in a rotation, even if his mechanics are fine. At worst, the Cubs think they have a closer.
The setbacks this season certainly haven't helped his projections any, and have given added volume to voices outside the organization that see his future in the bullpen. The Cubs are sending Vizcaino to the Arizona Fall League in order to get him facing hitters and, hopefully, prepare him to be a contributer in some way to the 2014 club. Fastball command has been a weakness for him up to this point, and the Tommy John recovery won't help it any in the short-term; as such, the walk totals may not be pretty as he gets re-acquainted with getting outs. The biggest question, though, remains how close Arodys can come to his pre-surgery form on what has been a difficult, setback-filled road back to pitching.
Assuming he gets a decent workload, Vizcaino's AFL performance should provide a good deal of insight as to what to expect from him in 2014. If the velocity is down, the curveball lousy, and his elbow balky, Vizcaino could spend next season going the way of Ryan Madson. If the signs are more encouraging, one would think the logical step for next season would be to start with Vizcaino in the bullpen and let him get some major league innings under his belt. If he performs well, stays healthy, and showcases the electric stuff he had pre-injury, perhaps he would be an intriguing rotation candidate for 2015 and beyond. Until then, let him find his footing and prove he can be successful and get outs.
2013 Cubs Prospect Reviews