Great 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.