Born February 13, 1990 in Alvin, Texas. Drafted in the 11th round of the 2008 First Year Player Draft. Listed at 6'3 and 195 lbs. Bats and throws right-handed.
Split his debut between the Gulf Coast Dodgers and the Ogden Raptors. Made 6 appearances in the GCL, allowing just 1 run in 8.2 innings. Walked 3 and struck out 9. Made 1 appearance for Ogden, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings. Allowed a hit and struck out 2.
Pitched the entire 2009 season with the Great Lakes Loons. Posted a 3.27 ERA in 26 appearances, including 16 starts. In 96.1 innings, allowed 95 hits, 2 home runs, walked 46 and struck out 71.
Spent 2010 between three clubs, rehabbing with Ogden and the AZL while pitching mostly in the Cal League for the Inland Empire 66ers. Made 16 appearances, 14 starts, for the 66ers, posting a 4.45 ERA in 85 innings. Walked 33, allowed 3 home runs and struck out 58. In his 4 rehab starts, he allowed only 5 earned runs in 13.1 innings, walking 4 and striking out 14.
Pitched all of 2011 with Chattanooga, setting a career high in innings with 103. Allowed just 76 hits, 3 homers and 46 walks while striking out 99. Had the second lowest batting average against in the organization among pitchers who compiled at least 400 plate appearances (.203).
Coming out of Alvin, Texas automatically garners un-enviable comparisons to Nolan Ryan. And while Eovaldi shouldn't be held to those lofty expectations, he fits the bill as a physical, hard-thrower with a good deal of upside.
Nathan starts off with one of the better fastballs in the system, sitting in the mid 90s with good movement. The ball explodes out of his hand and even major league hitters had trouble squaring it up. When he moved to the bullpen to limit innings at the end of the season, he threatened to touch triple digits. While he holds the velocity deep into his starts, coaches could be intrigued by 100mph heat coming out of the pen.
Eovaldi backs up the fastball with an inconsistent yet promising slider. When it was around 90, it was more of a cutter with softer break. When it was a little slower, the pitch showed some snap and could be a weapon. He also shows a curveball in the mid 70s and is still experimenting with changeup grips with were actually surprisingly effective.
A Tommy John survivor, Nathan doesn't have a perfect delivery but he has the build to pitch 200 innings a year. The slider and change still have to develop but it would be premature to call him a closer. Nevertheless, if he did move to relief, it would be fun watching him light up the radar gun.
Average. For a guy who threw pretty much nothing but a fastball 4 years ago, Eovaldi has come a long way and had success in spite of the odds being stacked against him. Breaking out as a 21 year old in Double A is mighty impressive.
That said, he's still raw. He needs to throw more strikes. He needs to work on his secondary pitches. And there's the ever-present injury concern. But given the fact that he's just 22 and has already had a modicum of success in the majors gives me hope for his continued development.
I would liked to have seen Nathan compete for a starting job with the big club this spring, but he's going to be blocked by the likes of Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. I'd rather send him back to Chattanooga than subject him to the pitching abyss that is the Pacific Coast League. If the club wants him to help sooner, he could be up for a spot in the pen. For now, though, I'd like to see him developed as a starter.