This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July, we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today, we have #22, Johan Oviedo.
22. Johan Oviedo – RHP
Signed on July 2, 2016
Entering his age-20 season
|2017||19||-2.1||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A–Rk||STL||4||3||.571||4.68||5.64||14||14||0||0||0||0||75.0||75||47||39||3||36||0||70||5||4||11||333||1.480||9.0||0.4||4.3||8.4||1.94|
What I Like
It’s easy to see the similarities between Johan Oviedo and our #28 prospect, Alvaro Seijas. Both were signed on July 2nd (albeit a year apart), both had healthy strikeout rates, poor walk rates, and really high ERA’s. Before we get too deep into the Oviedo scouting report, I’ll reiterate what I said about ERA’s at short-season clubs:
When considering a minor league pitcher’s ERA, particularly at a short-season level, don’t put too much stock in it. The game isn’t at a major league level, and that includes playing fields, defenders, hitters, and umpires. An ERA is dependent on those factors more than any other statistic, so while it’s nice to see a low ERA, it isn’t a be-all-end-all statistic.
Oviedo’s strikeout numbers were right where you’d want them to be, considering he’s 6’6” with plus velo (two other things I like, by the way). He struck out over ten hitters an inning at Johnson City, but they ticked down to 7.4 K/9 after being promoted to State College on July 26. Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of that drop in strikeouts. He was at a higher level, but dropping over three strikeouts per inning is a huge drop.
He finished strong in State College, where he went over 7 innings in three of his last five starts. When you look at his game logs, two starts stand out: eight earned runs allowed on July 19, and seven earned runs on August 5. After that start, he ERA stood at an astronomical 7.84. Over the next month of the season (six starts), he got his ERA all the way down to 4.25 before a not-so-great final start.
What I Don’t Like
The first is his walk numbers. They were crazy high at Johnson City, and while he improved in State College, he still handed out too many free passes. It’s a concern I had with Seijas, too and it’s not exactly a unique concern for such a young pitcher.
The second is his velocity. According to Eric Longenhagen over at Fangraphs, Oviedo’s velocity dipped from 97 when he signed to 89-92 at the end of last season. If true, that’s an incredibly concerning trend that needs to turn around immediately. Velocity can fluctuate more than most think, so I’m hoping his velocity ticks back up and all is not lost.
He’s still physically imposing and creates some tilt, but it’s not always effective, as you can see in the video above. Oviedo’s at a point in his development where he could shoot up the list next year or slide off. His 2017 was too much of a mixed bag to make a determination.
Thanks for reading! As always thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs for their statistics databases. Be sure to check out Kyle’s post tomorrow at Birds On The Black, and check out Prospect To Be Named Later for even more minor league content.