Let’s Get to Know Nathan Eovaldi


I’m halfway through writing a “reasons to watch the rest of the season” post, and included in it is a look at what prospects we might see recalled when rosters expand on September 1. There’s the usual assortment of A.J. Ellises and Jamie Hoffmanns, but I also mentioned the slight possibility that some of the outstanding arms currently residing at AA Chattanooga could get a quick look.

Well, that “slight possibility” may have just gotten a little larger, based on this tweet from ESPNLA’s Tony Jackson, who generally knows what he’s talking about:

Educated guess on my part, but I’m predicting Nate Eovaldi will start next Tuesday night against Phillies.

Maybe Jackson’s right about Tuesday, and maybe he’s not, but it’s as good an excuse as any to take a closer look at Eovaldi, who is enjoying something of a breakout season in AA and is expected to challenge for a spot on the 2012 Dodgers.

First, Eovaldi’s superficial line:

Year Age Tm Lev ERA G GS IP H R HR BB SO WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9
2008 18 2 Teams Rk 0.84 7 0 10.2 7 1 0 3 11 0.938 5.9 2.5 9.3
2009 19 Great Lakes A 3.27 26 16 96.1 95 48 2 41 71 1.412 8.9 3.8 6.6
2010 20 3 Teams A+-Rk 4.30 20 18 98.1 108 52 3 37 72 1.475 9.9 3.4 6.6
2011 21 Chattanooga AA 2.62 20 19 103.0 76 41 3 46 99 1.184 6.6 4.0 8.7
4 Seasons 3.30 73 53 308.1 286 142 8 127 253 1.339 8.3 3.7 7.4
Rk (2 seasons) Rk 2.25 11 4 24.0 16 7 0 7 25 0.958 6.0 2.6 9.4
A (1 season) A 3.27 26 16 96.1 95 48 2 41 71 1.412 8.9 3.8 6.6
AA (1 season) AA 2.62 20 19 103.0 76 41 3 46 99 1.184 6.6 4.0 8.7
A+ (1 season) A+ 4.45 16 14 85.0 99 46 3 33 58 1.553 10.5 3.5 6.1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/2/2011.

If there’s one thing that stands out there to me, it’s his apparently impressive ability to keep the ball in the park, having allowed just 8 homers in over 300 innings. That doesn’t necessarily mean it translates to the bigs – I don’t have to remind you the varying level of competition he faces in the lower leagues – but impressive nonetheless.

Eovaldi didn’t make Kevin Goldstein’s Top 20 Dodger list at Baseball Prospectus – in the comments, he referred to him as a “middle reliever” – though when I asked him if his 2011 had changed his opinion at all, Goldstein replied, “absolutely“. Eovaldi’s step forward this season has really turned heads, as Mike Newman of Scouting the Sally has been gushing about him all year. In June, he posted this scouting report from an April start:

  • Excellent size; Eovaldi looked closer to 210 lbs. than his listed weight of 195
  • Well-proportioned frame; Size through the quads and shoulders; Athletic pitcher’s frame
  • Fluid delivery with good pacing; Generates easy velocity
  • High 3/4 arm slot; Limits movement on his fastball
  • 94-96 MPH 4-seam fastball
  • 4-seamer lacked movement; Worked pitch in-and-out effectively
  • Maintained velocity throughout the start; Still touching 95 MPH in the 5th
  • 91-92 MPH 2-seam fastball; Some arm side run
  • 84 MPH slider; Best breaking ball; Used as out pitch
  • Pitch featured late cut; Depth improved throughout the course of the game
  • 78 MPH curveball; Threw sparingly; One CB was thrown behind RHH to backstop; Below average offering
  • 83-84 MPH Changeup; Threw sparingly; Slowed arm action

From a velocity standpoint, Eovaldi nearly matched Rubby De La Rosa pitch-for-pitch. As impressive as that statement is, Eovaldi’s fastball lacked the movement to make the offering elite. Add to this a plethora of breaking pitches in need of further refinement, and Eovaldi is on his way, but not ready for Los Angeles yet. As one of the youngest pitchers in the Southern League, he has plenty of time to improve and become more than a fastball/slider pitcher.

He followed that up with this report on July 19 at RotoHardball:

Since the pick, Eovaldi has admittedly had a couple of shaky starts, but I attended one of those starts in which he was clearly working on his secondary pitches which lag behind his potent four seam fastball. After a first inning which saw Eovaldi work 94-96 MPH, touching 97, he spent the rest of the game throwing 2-seam fastballs, sliders, and changeups, often throwing four or more of the same pitch consecutively. And although I prefer watching prospects work on mixing pitches effectively throughout a game as they would in the big leagues, I can also see the value in forcing a pitcher like Eovaldi to attack hitters with secondary pitches he may not have complete confidence in. Strike out a hitter like Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt (Eovaldi’s opponent in the outing) using a “baptism by fire” approach can do wonders for a pitcher’s confidence.

At minorleagueball, John Sickels ran an “Alternate Universe” draft in May, trying to see where high schoolers drafted in 2008 may have fit in the 2011 draft if they’d went to college:

Nate Eovaldi, RHP: 11th round pick in 2008 by the Dodgers, bought away from Texas A&M for $250,000. Erratic track record but has a live arm, power sinker, and is pitching well in Double-A this year. I’d mark him as a third-round candidate in the 2011 class.

When neither Goldstein or Sickels included Eovaldi in their top 20 prospects before the season, it’s hard to think that Eovaldi has “star” written on him, though he may profile as a solid mid-rotation starter if his 2011 progression is for real. Sounds like we may see for ourselves sooner than later.

******

The lineup for tonight’s game in San Diego, which just started a few minutes ago, may pique your interest:

Gordon SS, Blake 3B, Miles 2B, Kemp CF, Rivera RF, Loney 1B, Navarro C, Gwynn LF, Kuroda P

That’s right; Andre Ethier is out, and Aaron Miles is hitting third. Joe Block reports that there’s nothing wrong with Ethier, saying:

Mattingly said Ethier getting routine day off, since he seemed frustrated last night and his poor numbers vs Latos

Ethier has three hits in 16 PA against Latos, which doesn’t seem like a large enough sample size to matter. While I don’t mind Ethier getting a breather now and then, it does seem very odd to do so against a righty, when Ethier’s struggles against lefties are so well chronicled.

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  1. [...] Shawn Tolleson, or Steven Ames could get a cup of coffee in the bigs. (Though if Tony Jackson is to be believed, we might see Eovaldi as soon as next [...]

  2. [...] did not know much about Eovaldi until I read an introductory post about him on Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.  MSTI relayed a scouting report by Mike Newman [...]

  3. [...] with John Ely headed back to AAA. Kudos to ESPNLA’s Tony Jackson on that one, since Tony predicted this seemingly out of nowhere earlier in the [...]

  4. [...] with John Ely headed back to AAA. Kudos to ESPNLA’s Tony Jackson on that one, since Tony predicted this seemingly out of nowhere earlier in the [...]

  5. [...] Eovaldi was indeed recalled to join the rotation in early August, forcing me to write a “let’s get to know Nathan Eovaldi” post for my own benefit as much as yours. Eovaldi’s first impression was generally a [...]

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