chicago cubs logoGreat news – well, tentatively and relatively great news – on ever-rehabbing pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino.

Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein yesterday said that Vizcaino made six appearances in the Dominican Instructional League this year (I saw that he was showing up on a DWL roster, but that he wasn’t appearing in any games – I chalked it up to ‘net error, but this explains it). In them, Epstein said Vizcaino’s fastball touched 98 mph, and he showed good command (Carrie Muskat). It’s a modest success after Vizcaino was bumped from the Arizona Fall League roster in favor of instructionals (where he didn’t pitch much), but we’ll definitely take modest successes right now.

It’s been easy, and frankly reasonable, to discount the possibility that Vizcaino ever makes a meaningful impact on the Cubs, given two straight lost years full of surgery and rehab. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a 23-year-old (just turned 23) who was pitching in the bigs at 20 because his stuff was so electric. If he’s healthy and the command is there, I see no reason not to hope that Vizcaino could be part of the big league bullpen at some point next year.

A healthy Vizcaino, even in the bullpen, is an arm to dream on. Sure, you’d love it if he were able to start long-term, but there were concerns about his arm durability before his Tommy John surgery and subsequent bone spur surgery. In the near-term, let him work his way back in the pen, and if that’s where he stays, then so be it. Impact relievers are rare and valuable, and Vizcaino has the chance to be one.

  • Edwin

    He can be our next Angel Guzman!

    • Brett

      Aw … sigh.

      • terencemann

        You might make a Juan Cruz comparison. Cruz had great stuff but lacked the control to be a starter. 12 MLB seasons is not a bad career at all.

    • jsorensen

      That hurts but those were exactly my thoughts as well.

  • Robbo

    Great to see his health and velocity back in order. Could be a valuable piece to the pen. I’m still hoping he can stretch out and start long term, but regardless this is a very positive step.

  • woody

    This is fantastic news. Probably best to use him in relief this year. Maybe stretch him out next year.

    • Professor Snarks

      How about splitting the difference? For the first half of the year, have him and someone else do the 4 inning each piggyback starts. If that works out, they start stretching him out in the second half.

      • willis

        No way. IF he can stay healthy through ST, you give him an inning here and an inning there in AA or AAA. IF he makes it through that, then you bring him back as a spot reliever in the bigs and see if his arm holds up. Then next season we can chat about maybe stretching him out a little. Right now, he’s still very much an injury project. I’ve always loved his arm, but hated his china arm. He would be a serious A+ addition to this rebuild, but one wrong move or getting too eager, that arm blows up again. Ease it back.

  • RizzoCastro

    I like this type of news.

  • Mrs. Howell

    Or the next John Smoltz

  • Drew

    This would be great to see if Viz could come through spring training, hold up health wise and win a job in the pen. I’d be happy to see Stroop close, Viz/Russel combo with Wright mixed in for the later innings. Could be a very high power closing pen while having the ability to play match ups with righties and lefties too.

  • Ivy Walls

    Big Talent is always superior to average talent. Arodys has that kind of talent and it is a plus plus FB and a plus plus CB, something that could dominate late innings.

    To me a player with a brittle arm, but has electric stuff is born to the 8th and 9th inning.

    • Scotti

      I’m not sure he should be throwing anything but fastballs (and a straight change) for a while. If send him to AA and let him dominate with his FB then send him to AAA to work on the curve once his arm is ready. Once his FB/CB combination are on, bring him up but keep him on a strict pitch count, innings watch and keep several days between each outing. In 2015 I’d let him relieve with fewer conditions (but never 3 days in a row and keep his innings under 55).

  • Featherstone

    It feels like every team these days has Gas coming out of the pen (sigh, Cardinals). It certainly would be nice to have some of our own in the 8th/9th with Vizcaino and Strop.

    If Arodys only becomes a pretty good setup man for a while, how does everyone feel about the Maholm trade to ATL?

    • terencemann

      I’m already fine with it. Sometimes you make the right move but it doesn’t turn out well. The potential for this to be very good for the Cubs is still very real.

    • ssckelley

      Even if Vizcaino never pitches a game for the Cubs I am fine with that move. You add a few wins to that 2012 team and you might have lost out on Bryant. Maholm was not going to figure into the Cubs long term plans so you might as well take a chance on Vizcaino.

    • Kyle

      If he becomes a useful reliever? Still pretty good.

      • Rebuilding

        Indeed. With his stuff, if he can just stay healthy, he could be a dominant closer. A dominant closer with 6 years of control is a major win for Dempster

    • JB88

      I feel great about the trade. You aren’t going to hit on all trades. The philosophy of this FO is to collect as much talent as possible so that you hit on a greater percentage of players. Trading Maholm who was never going to be part of the Cubs long-term plans for a guy who has the stuff of Vizcaino was a great trade. Whether the results match is still an unresolved question.

    • Stevie B

      Supposedly, he throws “easy cheese”….

      I just like the sound of that….

      In fact, I’ll say it again…

      “Easy Cheese”

      Yup, I like it.

  • AdamAE24

    Forget him being a starter, I’d just be thrilled with a solid bullpen arm. I’ve written him off because of injuries, hope I am wrong!

    • willis

      I had as well. And still am very skeptical, but this is a step in the right direction and having him in the pen would be a huge win for the cubs.

  • Voice of Reason

    Counting on Vizcaino to be a healthy contributor in the bullpen was like counting on Kerry Wood to be a healthy contributor on the rotation.

    Forget about it….

    • Luke

      It’s a good thing the Cubs aren’t counting on him.

      But it remains true that he could emerge as a very pleasant surprise.

  • Voice of Reason

    If he’s kissing 98mph on the gun then hurry up and trade him.

    • mjhurdle

      too late, everyone in baseball already read your previous post and have written him off as having no chance of ever competing.

  • Rebuilding

    In this day and age, when it seems most everyone has had an arm surgery, why would anyone give up on a kid that just turned 23 in November?

    • JB88

      Because waiting is not permitted if it takes more than two seasons. Or at least that seems to be the narrative that some want to espouse …

      • When the Music’s Over

        Curious. Since you appear to be the master of patience, what is the proper amount of patience each individual should display? Does greater than two years count for everything? Just baseball? Just a baseball gut rehab rebuild? Just Tommy John surgery recovery? Just an injured Arodys Vizcaino? Just Arodys Vizcaino after he’s had Tommy John Surgery?

        • JB88

          I’m a Cubs fan and have been a Cubs fan my entire life (nearly 35 years). In that time they have had 10 winning seasons and have made the playoffs 6 times. They haven’t been in a World Series since before my father was born and haven’t won a world series since a time before anyone I’ve ever known was born.

          So, I ask YOU this. If I’m a fan of a team with such a long history of mediocrity, why would I start to get impatient about two seasons? Or five? At the end of the day, if the current rebuild leads to sustained success for a period of time, then my patience will be well-rewarded. If it doesn’t, then it is really no different than the Cubs have been through my entire life.

          • mjhurdle

            well said :)

          • ari gold

            Post of the day!

            • cubmig

              “Post of the day!”

              Yeah, if you’re willing and ready to live out the rest of your life lovin’, hoping and waiting……otherwise…

          • When the Music’s Over

            I am 33, so we are in the same boat. First paragraph null and void.

            Second paragraph. Your level of patience is particular to you. Other people have other thresholds of patience, whether right or wrong. To simply blanketly rip on everyone that doesn’t share your exact threshold of patience is unfair and short-sighted.

            • hansman

              Your post above is also short-sighted and unfair.


              • When the Music’s Over

                Eh, I was fighting a snarky critical post with another snarky critical post.

                Fair reality (at least in my mind): I think many fans/people do have pretty unrealistic expectations, but I do definitely understand why people are starting to begin to feel the need to scratch the competitive itch. Waiting is hard. Waiting with/for unknowns is more difficult. I get that. Having a great level of patience is something I also get.

                What I don’t get is lumping every single person in the starting to get antsy or already antsy or even the questioning of the plan group into one you are ALL completely wrong (and I’m going to ignore all circumstances) category for not being on my side is short sighted and unfair.

            • mjhurdle

              umm, he didn’t really rip anyone. so your entire post: null and void

            • JB88

              You’ll note that I didn’t rip on anyone specifically or generally with my first post. Rather, I made a tongue-in-cheek snipe at the narratives being set up about what the Cubs should be doing this off-season. (And, for the record, that in my book is not “blanketly rip[ping] on everyone” nor is it “unfair and short-sighted” — though I will note that being told that I was “short-sighted” when trying to suggest patience is a new one …)

              I don’t think I’m by any stretch a “master of patience,” but I’d like to think my expectations are adjusted in such a way that I’m okay letting something play out before I deride or laud something too much.

              • When the Music’s Over

                I thought it was a backhanded comment. If I was wrong, I apologize.

                Overall, to give you some context, I’m just frustrated and sick and tired of the militant plan backers hating on anyone who questions or has opinions that deviate from the plan.

                • JB88

                  Dogmatic belief in any opinion is usually a problem. Doesn’t matter what side you are on …

  • itzscott

    Now if the Cubs can only do a Shark deal with the D-Backs that includes Delgado they’ll have the 2 Brave prospects they initially had their eyes on to begin with + Skaggs, etc.

  • Aaron

    Brett…thanks for sharing this positive news on Arodys Vizcaino. If he stays healthy, he could be a real asset to a bullpen that blew 26 saves last season.

  • Nate Dawg

    Finally, something concrete about Vizcaino’s arm strength.

  • dw8

    Vizcaino does not seem like a back and forth candidate. If he’s suited for the bullpen, so be it, if they want to try him as a starter, that’s fine too. I just don’t want the Cubs to jerk him back and forth and then he never does either well.

  • Kyle

    Any thought to Vizcaino being a starter should be over.

    If he ever gives you 40 innings out of the pen, be happy.

    • CubsFanSaxMan

      40 innings with 40 saves. Sounds good to me.

  • Jono

    Obviously it would be great to have Viscaino as a solid closer, but another nice impact would be to keep Strop in the set up role where his success has come from. I feel more comfortable with him in the 8th if there’s another legit option in the 9th. Strop-Viscaino in the 8th-9th could be pretty fun.

  • Aaron

    Jono…let’s see how Strop or perhaps Viscaino can actually handle the closer role. In my playing days I was a starting pitcher and tried to close a few games when the team needed me. It was a totally different feel. Got 1 save out of 2 chances. I needed the extensive warm up and pre-game preparation, unlike a closer who often doesn’t get that luxury. It will be interesting how this plays out and who steps up this season.

  • cubfanbob

    Strop walks too many to be the closer and Viscaino is too inexperienced. The Cubs need a dependable closer FFA inho. I cant live another April like last year with our closers.

  • Aaron

    I don’t think the Cubs will be signing an experienced and yes effective closer this off-season. Given the team will not be competing in 2014, they will attempt to use the players they have.

  • Bob from Salem

    This IS good news…..Would be great to see him throwing some heat and missing bats in the 8th or 9th inning…

    On another note— what happened to Gerardo Concepcion?? Is he still with the Cubs organization?

    • woody

      Don’t ask. he was a bust.

  • baldtaxguy

    Ooooo, that’s a bingo.

    • DarthHater


      • DarthHater

        Oh, crap. 😀