In conjunction with my friend Colin Garner over at The Redbird Daily, we present to you our combined list of the Top 30 Prospects in the Cardinals organization! Every other day for the next two months, From January 28th until March 29th, we will be presenting you with an exhaustive evaluation on each of the top 30 prospects in the organization starting with prospect #30 and counting down to prospect #1. This is our combined list, not our own individual lists. For additional information on how we came these rankings, CLICK HERE. Without further delay, we present...
Prospect #22, RHP Johan Oviedo
Age At The Start Of The 2018 Season: 20
Signed Out Of Cuba In July Of 2016
Rookie Level FIP: 4.04 A- FIP: 3.81
Kyle Reis (Prospect #21 On Personal List, Prior To Combining Lists With Colin Garner)
What I like about Oviedo, other than his name, which I think sounds like the ultimate pitchers name, is his size. He's a big boy with a body meant for professional athletics. He stands 6'6 and weighs, at least, 220 lbs. There are some durability questions (we'll get to that soon enough), but I think those will go away as he gains experience.
Entering the 2017 season there was nothing but excitement surrounding Oviedo. He was able to dial his fastball into the mid-to-high 90's. His off speed offerings were advanced for his age. He showed plus command. He appeared to be on track to rise fast through the minor leagues.
Oviedo's changeup has shown signs of being a solid offering and there's reason to believe that it can be an average to above average pitch with enough refinement. His curveball has shown signs of being a monster for hitters to deal with and the continued evolution of that pitch will be imperative for him to have sustained success.
While his 2017 season ended up being a bit of a set back, there are still plenty or reasons to stay on the Oviedo bandwagon. First, hitters hit .262 against him over two levels spanning 14 starts. That isn't exactly dominant, but it's respectable. His ERA was high at Johnson City before he was promoted to State College, but he was holding batters to a batting average against of .220 and an OPS against of a somewhat high but respectable .658.
I really love the 70 strike outs in 75 innings pitched. Even more, I love that he did all of that K-ing while only allowing 3 HR. You can really start to imagine his potential when you add in a ground ball rate of 54%.
What I don't like about Oviedo is how almost everything that he did well in 2016 seemed to disappear in 2017. His command got worse and the velocity on his fastball dipped a great deal. It went from the high to mid 90's in 2016 to living in the high to mid 80's in 2017. That is a seriously alarming development.
When you watched Oviedo pitch at State College you could see him tipping his pitches. He was changing both his mechanics and release point to throw his off speed stuff. The MiLB.TV camera angle for most of the State College games is miserably high in the air and offset behind home plate, but even from that angle those mechanical glitches were obvious. That's a serious cause for concern, as well.
As a matter of fact, nearly everything about his time at State College calls his prospect status into question. Hitters put up a batting average of .285 against him and an OPS against of .746. In 47.1 innings pitched he walked 18 and struck out 39. Oviedo possesses too many tools and is too talented of a pitcher to have a 2:1 K to BB ratio.
I wanted to make sure that I included as much media for Oviedo in this article as possible. I wanted everyone to get a chance to see this young man and the size he possesses. While I love his frame, you can tell that he has a bit of a sloppy body style. He’s going to need to whip himself into better shape. It’s a small complaint, all things considered, but it’s important that he gets in better shape. Committing to a healthier life style was one of the things that help push Jack Flaherty to the next level. Oviedo would benefit greatly from following Flaherty’s example.
I don't know what level Oviedo is going to start the 2018 season at, but all signs point to Full-Season Peoria. He has the tools to really excel there, but he'll need to clean up nearly everything to march his way up this Top 30 prospect list. Again, all of the tools are there, he just needs to put it together.
If I'm comparing what we saw out of Oviedo in 2017 to anyone it's RHP Chris Young. If he continues on the path that he laid in 2017 he has an ultimate ceiling of RHP Trevor Cahill. That being said, I want to make it clear that his tools and potential is MUCH higher than that. This kid has the potential, if he can put it all together, to be a top of the rotation arm. If he finds his way back on the path that he was paving in 2016 then there's Jeff Samardzija potential there.
As always, these articles can't be done without Fangraphs and Baseball Reference. They are equally as reliant on the skills of Cardinalsgif's and NChill17. It's a pleasure to do this list with my friend Colin Garner at The Redbird Daily.
Thanks For Reading!
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