Not that I should be surprised, being that it’s promotion season and all, but dude. This is fun.
After learning today that Kris Bryant was finally getting his promotion to AAA, Jesse Rogers reports that he won’t be alone:
Triple A going to be loaded now. P Armando Rivero and Arodys Vizcaino headed there with Bryant. Ill be on ESPN 1000 at 3:45 to discuss
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 18, 2014
Vizcaino, 23, was the big component of the Cubs’ Paul Maholm trade back in 2012, as he recovered from Tommy John surgery earlier that year. A setback in Spring Training and a follow-up surgery in 2013, and we didn’t actually get to see him pitch for the Cubs until Spring Training of this year. Since then, it’s been a very cautious, measured return to action for Vizcaino, who worked his way back at Daytona and then Tennessee. Across those stops, he’s posted a 1.99 ERA over 22.2 innings, striking out 26 and walking 7. Vizcaino very clearly has a Major League arm, and it’s just a matter of ensuring his recovery is complete before bringing him up.
As for his future, you can still bank on Vizcaino being a back-end reliever long-term. There was always hope that he could start, but, given the durability concerns, the ability to max-out his fastball as a reliever, and the two recent elbow surgeries, it just seems wise to not expect more than a bullpen arm at this point. But, by all accounts, he’s got the upside of an elite back-end reliever.
Rivero, 26, was one of the Cubs’ big-ish Cuban signings last year, netting a $3.1 million bonus. He didn’t arrive until later in the year, and dominated the low minors in relief before pitching in the AFL. This year, it’s been more of the same for Rivero, who’s posted a 1.56 ERA over 34.2 innings at AA Tennessee, mostly serving as the closer there. He’s struck out an absurd 54 batters in that time, walking 16.
Each pitcher will now pitch in the late innings at AAA, getting their final test before coming up to the big leagues, potentially as soon as later this year. The Cubs’ bullpen, as we’ve seen, is already flush with quality power arms, so let’s hope this is the first step in having the bullpen strength turn into an embarrassment of riches.
(And, when Vizcaino and Rivero do arrive, there’s a fair chance that having them will provide the Cubs cover if they want to try and stretch out guys like Neil Ramirez and/or Justin Grimm to be starters next year.)
These promotions, if and when they become official, will obviously displace two arms at AAA Iowa. There are actually a lot of quality arms there right now – good problem to have – so we may have a twinge of sadness soon. But this is what happens in strong organizations.