Scouting Mets' Prospect #39: Rafael Cova

The New York Mets signed Rafael Cova out of Venezuela in 2003 after being released by the Philadelphia Phillies' organization. Cova, who entered the 2005 season with a 17-7 record and a 2.33 ERA in three seasons in international summer leagues, has some of the filthiest stuff and raw potential in the Mets' system. Ranking #39 among the Mets' top 50 prospects, here's a scouting report on Rafael Cova.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Rafael Cova
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: March 5, 1982
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 180
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

One of the first blips on the radar regarding Mets pitching prospect Rafael Cova came during the club's 2004 Instructional League session in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

There always seems to be a selection of players who will jump out of these camps and impress someone, somewhere, with unreported skills and talent.

Last year, Cova – a 23-year-old righthander from Cariaco, Venezuela – became the latest addition to the 'diamonds in the rough,' whipping a mid-90's fastball by Instructs batters while snapping off solid curveballs and changeups.

"[Cova] has some of the dirtiest stuff I've ever seen," Mets minor leaguer Michael Devaney raved after the Instructs. "He just needs to get more experienced and become more polished, but he's really good."

Signed by the Phillies as a non-drafted free agent on Mar. 8, 2002, Cova spent three years in Philadelphia's farm system, bouncing between rookie league clubs in the Venezuelan Summer League and the Dominican Summer League.

Filling roles as a starting pitcher and a reliever, Cova put up decent numbers for Mariara of the VSL (2002, 2003) and the DSL Phillies (2003, 2004).

But Cova's breakout campaign was arguably his '04 season in the VSL, after being released by the Phillies and picked up by the Mets on Jan. 12, 2004. Cova rewarded New York by joining Tronconero 2 of the VSL, going 6-0 with a 1.33 ERA in 11 games (10 starts), allowing 37 hits and striking out 50 batters in 54.1 innings.

He started 2005 with the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League, appearing in 24 games (five starts), going 5-6 with one save and a 4.60 ERA. Though prone to wildness (and allowing roughly a hit per inning, Cova also averaged nearly a strikeout per inning.

He was especially hittable to lefties, who battered him at a .329 clip (27-for-82), but like many in the SAL, Cova showed enough raw promise to impress.

"He throws real hard and he's got a lot of movement," said catcher Aaron Hathaway, who worked with Cova early in the 2005 season. "He's got a lot of promise, I know that."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2005

Hagerstown

5-6

1

62.2

62

33

61

4.60



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Cova's fastball is a plus Major League pitch for him. He's able to bring his fastball in the 94-96 MPH range with excellent movement. While Cova's fastball is one of his biggest assets, at times, it can be his downfall. Despite completing four professional seasons - albeit three of them in international summer leagues - Cova still has problems with his command of his fastball. When he's locating his fastball, he's nearly unhittable. But the inconsistent command conjures up images of former Met Armando Benitez.

Other Pitches. Cova throws a developing curveball in the 78-82 MPH range and a developing changeup, both with tremendous movement to them. Again, like his fastball, Cova has a hard time locating his secondary pitches. He tends to leave his curveball and changeup high up in the strike zone, which tends to be the majority of his hits allowed. Once Cova learns to consistently keep his curveball and changeups on the lower half of the plate, he could become a very good pitcher.

Pitching. As previously mentioned, improved command of all three of his pitches is the only thing holding Cova back from becoming an intriguing pitching prospect in the Mets system. He currently is more of a fly-ball pitcher, but has shown the potential to drastically turn that around in the future. Cova's tendency to leave his secondary pitches up in the strike zone is a big reason why lefties have hit him so well thus far.

Projection. The Mets believe Cova projects to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in due time. However, his ability to consistently locate pitches in the lower half of the plate, keeping the ball down, will be the ultimate test if he's to remain in the rotation in the Mets' organization. As hard as he throws and the way he dominates right-handed batters (.224 average in 2005), Cova truly projects more as a possible setup man or closer down the road. His ceiling projects to be more of an Armando Benitez type, but the Mets will give him every opportunity to develop as a starting pitcher over the next couple of seasons.

ETA. 2008. Cova skipped the short-season leagues in his U.S. debut and appears destined for St. Lucie in 2006. The Mets will most likely keep him in the rotation, at least in the short term. If that's the case, Cova's ETA of reaching the Major Leagues should be right around 2008, when he'll most likely make his immediate mark with the Mets coming out of the bullpen.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Rafael Cova
\r\nPosition: Starting Pitcher
\r\nDOB: March 5, 1982
\r\nHeight: 6'2\"
\r\nWeight: 180
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nOne of the first blips on the radar regarding Mets pitching prospect Rafael Cova came during the club's 2004 Instructional League session in Port St. Lucie, Fla.\r\n

\r\nThere always seems to be a selection of players who will jump out of these camps and impress someone, somewhere, with unreported skills and talent. \r\n

\r\nLast year, Cova – a 23-year-old righthander from Cariaco, Venezuela – became the latest addition to the 'diamonds in the rough,' whipping a mid-90's fastball by Instructs batters while snapping off solid curveballs and changeups.\r\n

\r\n\"[Cova] has some of the dirtiest stuff I've ever seen,\" Mets minor leaguer Michael Devaney raved after the Instructs. \"He just needs to get more experienced and become more polished, but he's really good.\"\r\n

\r\nSigned by the Phillies as a non-drafted free agent on Mar. 8, 2002, Cova spent three years in Philadelphia's farm system, bouncing between rookie league clubs in the Venezuelan Summer League and the Dominican Summer League.\r\n

\r\nFilling roles as a starting pitcher and a reliever, Cova put up decent numbers for Mariara of the VSL (2002, 2003) and the DSL Phillies (2003, 2004).\r\n

\r\nBut Cova's breakout campaign was arguably his '04 season in the VSL, after being released by the Phillies and picked up by the Mets on Jan. 12, 2004. Cova rewarded New York by joining Tronconero 2 of the VSL, going 6-0 with a 1.33 ERA in 11 games (10 starts), allowing 37 hits and striking out 50 batters in 54.1 innings. \r\n

\r\nHe started 2005 with the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League, appearing in 24 games (five starts), going 5-6 with one save and a 4.60 ERA. Though prone to wildness (and allowing roughly a hit per inning, Cova also averaged nearly a strikeout per inning. \r\n

\r\nHe was especially hittable to lefties, who battered him at a .329 clip (27-for-82), but like many in the SAL, Cova showed enough raw promise to impress.\r\n

\r\n\"He throws real hard and he's got a lot of movement,\" said catcher Aaron Hathaway, who worked with Cova early in the 2005 season. \"He's got a lot of promise, I know that.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

Year

Team

W-L

\r\n

\r\n SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2005

\r\n

\r\n Hagerstown

\r\n

\r\n 5-6

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 62.2

\r\n

\r\n 62

\r\n

\r\n 33

\r\n

\r\n 61

\r\n

\r\n 4.60


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Cova's fastball is a plus Major League pitch for him. He's able to bring his fastball in the 94-96 MPH range with excellent movement. While Cova's fastball is one of his biggest assets, at times, it can be his downfall. Despite completing four professional seasons - albeit three of them in international summer leagues - Cova still has problems with his command of his fastball. When he's locating his fastball, he's nearly unhittable. But the inconsistent command conjures up images of former Met Armando Benitez.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. Cova throws a developing curveball in the 78-82 MPH range and a developing changeup, both with tremendous movement to them. Again, like his fastball, Cova has a hard time locating his secondary pitches. He tends to leave his curveball and changeup high up in the strike zone, which tends to be the majority of his hits allowed. Once Cova learns to consistently keep his curveball and changeups on the lower half of the plate, he could become a very good pitcher.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. As previously mentioned, improved command of all three of his pitches is the only thing holding Cova back from becoming an intriguing pitching prospect in the Mets system. He currently is more of a fly-ball pitcher, but has shown the potential to drastically turn that around in the future. Cova's tendency to leave his secondary pitches up in the strike zone is a big reason why lefties have hit him so well thus far.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. The Mets believe Cova projects to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in due time. However, his ability to consistently locate pitches in the lower half of the plate, keeping the ball down, will be the ultimate test if he's to remain in the rotation in the Mets' organization. As hard as he throws and the way he dominates right-handed batters (.224 average in 2005), Cova truly projects more as a possible setup man or closer down the road. His ceiling projects to be more of an Armando Benitez type, but the Mets will give him every opportunity to develop as a starting pitcher over the next couple of seasons.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2008. Cova skipped the short-season leagues in his U.S. debut and appears destined for St. Lucie in 2006. The Mets will most likely keep him in the rotation, at least in the short term. If that's the case, Cova's ETA of reaching the Major Leagues should be right around 2008, when he'll most likely make his immediate mark with the Mets coming out of the bullpen.
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