Name: Jose Oyervidez
DOB: February 18, 1982
There are few pitchers in the major leagues that can boast an assortment of four different pitches that can be above-average at times. Oyervidez lays claim to that boast. The problem: "at times".
Consistency has been something lacking for the right-hander and he has twice been injured, claiming a year of development each time.
Oyervidez' problems stem from a lack of command. While each pitch has natural movement that makes them near impossible to hit when they are in the zone, his location of those pitches has never been stellar.
The right-hander has flashed an above-average curveball, slider and fastball with a changeup that is generally used only against right-handed hitters.
His fastball sits in the low-90s and his two-seam heater offers late sink. His four-seamer can hit 95 MPH when he keeps his arm angle up and elbow in line.
The curveball has tight spin and shows two-plane movement dropping down on a hitter. His slider/cutter is used primarily against left-handed hitters, showing good tilt as it migrates from the outside corner into their back foot.
When he hits his spots and works down in the zone, batters are rolling over on his pitches and failing to get good wood on the baseball. Left-handed hitters have a tough time picking up his pitches because of the appearance that he is coming out of his shirt with his delivery, making them late on offering.
There is, however, an element of trust missing from his approach on the mound. He does not have the presence that implies he owns the bump, and he fails to work consistently on the inside corner of the plate. Batters are not afraid to lean out and get extension on the ball, often leading to big innings that begin with a walk.
"He's got good stuff; all of his pitches are quality pitches," pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "His biggest problem is believing in himself. He's like a lot of young pitchers, and the clubhouse is full of them. We can talk to them, but when you go across that line it's about trusting what you have."
Oyervidez made it through 28.2 innings in 2007 with Double-A San Antonio before his season was cut short. Arm troubles that began during the spring could not be foiled.
He ended up with an 0-1 record and a 5.65 ERA during that stretch, lacking faith in many of his offerings.
After a two-inning stint in early May, Oyervidez felt soreness in his throwing arm and was diagnosed with inflammation. He flew to San Diego for an MRI and underwent surgery to move a nerve weeks later.
"His injury was more of a transposition of the nerve instead of Tommy John, basically moving the nerve," Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "He has come back good. He should be ready to go in camp."
Over his career, spanning 404 innings across five seasons, Oyervidez has walked 208 batters. That equates to 4.6 batters given a free pass per nine innings of work. While hitters have been limited to a .237 average against during that same span, the big inning has been his undoing. Once the walks begin, Oyervidez has trouble curtailing the damage – once again leading back to the lack of confidence in spotting his pitches and leaving them up in the zone.
When he is on, Oyervidez can be nearly unhittable. He has undeniable talent but has yet to harness it over his minor league career.
"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."
"He has been a tough one for everyone (to evaluate)," Fuson admitted. "His stuff is good. He has a good arm, had good breaking stuff, developed a changeup but he has always been fighting command.
"His record has always been skewed because of the inconsistency going deep into games and giving up the big inning. We will see how he is when he comes back."
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2002, the Texas native has ranked in the top-five in his respective league in walks and strikeouts for two straight years prior to the injury.
ETA: The injury has hampered his development – more mentally than physically. His stuff has never been questioned but this was supposed to be a year to show his temperament and poise has improved. Now, there is no telling how he responds or comes back. He can't feel sorry for himself. The time has come to show what he can do, and it begins with believing he will be even better and executing his pitches. If he is able to accomplish that, a 2009 look from San Diego will be in the cards.