Name: Jose Oyervidez
DOB: February 18, 1982
While Jose Oyervidez has yielded fewer hits than innings pitched every year he has pitched in the minors, the right-hander has also been in the top five in the league in walks in successive years.
He shaved seven walks off his walk total of 2005 in 4.1 fewer innings – not exactly the kind of progress that he was hoping for. He has also thrown 19 wild pitches over the last two seasons.
In his Southern League leading 28 starts, Oyervidez surrendered three or more walks 16 times. Six times on the season, he gave a free pass more than or equal to the amount of hits he allowed.
Big innings weren't a common occurrence against Oyervidez. He limited the opposition to a .229 average with runners in scoring position – his ERA may have been well over 5.00 had he not been successful in that arena.
"He is a great worker," 2006 Mobile pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "He has good commitment. For me, he just needs the confidence and believing in himself. I don't really think he trusts himself. When things happen he just tries to guide it."
The right-hander has placed fifth in the league in strikeouts in consecutive seasons, whiffing 131 this year after 130 last season.
His 14-29 record over his minor league career isn't indicative of the kind of stuff he has. He has a .234 average against in his minor league career.
His second tour in Mobile resembled the first. When he was on, Oyervidez induced a better than 2-to-1 groundout-to-fly out ratio. He has 11 outings where he surrendered two runs or less.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2002, Oyervidez throws a fastball and changeup and is one of only a few to hurl both a curveball and slider.
He has a live arm that produces a lot of movement on a two-seam fastball that runs up o 93 MPH with late sink. He also hits 95 with the four-seam fastball but it does not produce the movement of his two-seamer. He sports an above average curveball with tight spin and nice drop and combines that with a cutter/slider that he drops in to left-handed hitters. The changeup is a pitch he saves for right-handed hitters to offer a different look.
"This kid has four above average major league pitches," Padres' roving pitching coordinator Mike Couchee said. "He might have the best overall stuff of anyone in our system. Now, is it refined and does he command it well enough now, no. But this kid, as far as throwing guys, he is one of the more exciting kids to me."
When he is hitting his spots with his fastball, hitters are often topping the ball into the ground and making easy plays for the middle infielders and third baseman.
Left-handed hitters are oftentimes late picking up his pitches, leading to an increased flow of activity to the left side of the field.
The biggest question, though, has nothing to do with his pitches. They are each quality major league pitches but there is an element of trust that is forgotten. That killer instinct, and perhaps it is partly due to him skipping two levels that has his control going awry, is missing from his repertoire.
And once the walks begin they often continue to hamper his outings.
"Jose did a nice job," 2006 Mobile manager Gary Jones said. "Jose has good stuff. He really progressed from the beginning of the season in April to the end in September. He is a guy that probably has as good of stuff, stuff-wise, as anybody we have had on the team. Sometimes his command gets erratic and maybe he tries to do a little more than usual. I think the biggest thing that he needs to get over is that he just needs to trust his stuff a little bit more and not give the hitters too much credit. I think at times he gives the hitters too much credit and doesn't trust his stuff and as a result he gets his own self in trouble. When he throws strikes he is lights out. He gets himself in trouble by putting guys on base with the walk."
Along with the lack of control came an inordinate amount of stolen base attempts against him. He led the Southern League with 34 thieves attempting a stolen base. Opponents challenged him to throw a strike and present the catchers with a chance to throw out the runner. Eleven of the 34 attempting to steal off him were caught – good for 34 percent.
ETA: The Portland pitching staff appears to be stacked at this early stage, leaving Oyervidez, 24, repeating Double-A for a third year. That isn't necessarily a bad thing for the righty. He still has control problems that must be curtailed and only then will be elevated to the ranks of Triple-A. With four major league pitches, Oyervidez' success is tied to his control. Strikes will get him to where he wants to be and his timetable is ultimately tied directly to it.