Written by: Adam Tulley (@AdamT_Prospects)
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Oviedo’s 2018 Stats: 57 IP, 2.05 ERA, 67 Ks (12.6 K/9), 17 BB (2.7 BB/9), .190 BAA, 0.98 WHIP, 2.76 FIP
Looking for a starting pitcher outside of most top-100 lists with a very good chance to be top-50 by the end of the 2019 season? Look no further than Luis Oviedo.
The young right hander has all of the makings of a high-upside, up-and-coming pitcher: success against older competition, command of a fastball and changeup, progress toward developing two breaking pitches and, perhaps most importantly, projection.
Signed in the 2015 international signing period for $375,000, Oviedo wasn’t much of a highly regarded arm when he inked with the Indians. At that time, he was a tall and skinny kid with a massive amount of projection. He’s already filled out some, but the right hander is STILL extremely projectable. At 6’4 with still plenty of room to add muscle to his frame, Oviedo should continue to gain fastball velocity throughout his minor league career. With a high waist and long arms, Oviedo gets exceptional extension towards the plate. This extension allows for his arsenal to play up, especially the fastball.
Oviedo already has an impressive repertoire despite being only 19 years old; as he matures and continues to develop his arsenal, he’ll likely become a true, four-pitch-mix guy. In a day and age where pitchers are not expected to go as deep into games as they once did, a lot of pitchers can successfully get away with three pitches. The thought of a fourth pitch is a bonus, and it’s a crucial ingredient that allows pitchers to maneuver their way through a lineup a third time.
Oviedo’s four pitch mix includes an already average-above average fastball with late life, a changeup that has good shape and depth that he can already command, a slider that flashes plus but lacks consistency and a developing curveball. With the remaining projection left in Oviedo’s frame, it’s not completely ridiculous to expect another 3-5 mph on his fastball at maturity.
Once he’s fully developed, Oviedo can be a starter with a fastball sitting in the 95-97 mph range WITH life and above average command. That’s a pretty solid starting point. With impressive arm speed that will only get better with added strength, I anticipate the right-hander’s changeup to become even more effective, even if it gains a couple ticks of velocity. The 19-year-old also projects for two average-or-better breaking balls. I think the slider might eventually become a strikeout weapon, and the curveball will develop nicely into a pitch that Oviedo can throw in any count. The final product can be an imposing arm with a devastating fastball-changeup combination with two above average breaking balls to boot. That seems good.
Here’s a video of Oviedo pitching for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the short season New York Penn League last summer before his promotion to Low-A Lake County.
Oviedo’s delivery oozes athleticism. This can be seen in his smooth actions and effortless extension and arm speed. His mechanics are truly efficient.
From the windup, he starts square to the plate and positions himself on the right side of the mound. Upon leg lift, Oviedo is very balanced and creates tilt and momentum towards the plate by sinking into his back leg and loading his weight onto his back heel. This allows him to use his lower body efficiently and explode toward the plate with intent. As he drives down the mound, he keeps his front side closed and creates a nice scap load (pinches shoulder blades together), which is conducive to arm speed and pitch velocity.
Upon foot strike, we see his hips engage and fire as his shoulders stay closed and his arm stays back and loaded. As his arm starts to move forward, we see the front leg lock out and his front elbow shoot back behind his body, which allows for maximum power and extension from his three-quarter arm slot. From the stretch, we see a very similar approach, though he comes set into a preloaded stance. By this, I mean he begins his motion in tilt, thus eliminating any unnecessary motion and letting his body work. This efficient, athletic delivery is repeated well, which leads me to believe he will be able to reach his ceiling in terms of velocity and command.
The sky is the limit for Luis Oviedo. In my personal top-100, Oviedo is included at the back end; in my eyes, he is on a short list of pitching prospects who are at least 60 future value players.
I have no doubt he will remain a starter in his journey to the major leagues. Oviedo’s 2019 season will likely begin back in Low-A Lake County, with a promotion to High-A Lynchburg on the horizon sometime this summer. Either way, I could see Oviedo working his way to Double-A as a 20-year-old and impressing people as he ascends (think Deivi Garcia).
If he’s as good as advertised this season, he’ll likely earn a Major League Spring Training invite next season. There, he’ll learn from veterans Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. This is obviously all speculation and a solid season away from becoming reality, but I think Oviedo could prove to be a rare, young right-handed pitcher on the fast track.
Cleveland is absolutely loaded with young talent. I’m likely in the minority here, and feel free to call me crazy, but I wholeheartedly believe that Oviedo is the second-best pitching prospect in this system (yes, over Ethan Hankins). During the 2019 season, watch the right-hander every chance you get. Track his stat lines. With continued success against older competition, I think he can push himself into a late-2020 big league debut.
Grab Oviedo in your fantasy leagues before he becomes a mainstream pitching prospect who’s dominating older competition in Double-A. You’ll thank me later.
Follow P365 staff writer Adam Tulley on Twitter! @AdamT_Prospects
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Featured image courtesy of photographer Joseph Coblitz and BurningRiverBaseball