Name: Euclides Viloria
DOB: September 9, 1989
Euclides, pronounced ‘Yee-ow-clee-dees', Viloria has been a bit of a mystery since bursting onto the scene. He pitched in winter ball following 2007 and injured himself while throwing in his native Venezuela.
After trying to pitch through pain, Viloria underwent surgery. That cost him the entire 2008 season. He was thought to be on track to return in 2009 but suffered continual setbacks on his journey.
"He was throwing great and then during the time off in early June he had some problems with his shoulder again," Padres director of player development and international scouting Randy Smith said. "He was throwing 90 and above right at the end of extended spring. I was encouraged – and I think everybody was."
He reached a point where his fastball was sitting 90 mph – up a few ticks from the 86-88 it was previously – and topping out at 92. Just about then, the shoulder ailments resurfaced and caused another shutdown.
Two years removed from competitive action, Viloria, now 20, is an unknown.
"It is hard for me," Viloria said. "I see everyone else pitching and I have to sit on the bench. It is hard."
With 12.09 strikeouts per nine innings during his debut season, Viloria bested the marks of nearly every prominent prospect in 2007. And the southpaw was the youngest of the bunch.
While he fanned an impressive 73 in 54.1 innings at the Arizona Rookie League level, Viloria also had his share of angst – namely the walk. The Venezuelan native issued a free pass to 34 batters on the year, walking three batters or more in eight of his 14 starts.
While the excitement of the strikeout was genuine, the walk totals meant runners on base and long innings. Instead of working to contact to pitch deep into games, Viloria was petering out by the third frame.
His impressive strikeout numbers, therefore, were impeding his progress. With each at-bat taking more than the three pitchers that the Padres preach, his pitch count was elevated by the time he hit the third inning. As a result, he reached the fifth inning just three times during his tenure with the Arizona Rookie League Padres.
From a mental standpoint, taking a step away from the game could be a blessing. Viloria has a chance to refocus and work on changing the mindset in his approach to hitters. A cocky player when originally signed, his demeanor has calmed to a mere confidence because of the missed time. That may assist him in the future.
"I am seeing plays and moves that I have not seen before and trying to incorporate them into my game," Viloria said. "I see the other guys release point and try and learn as much everyday."
On the physical side, however, losing out on experience hurts tremendously. There is no telling where his command is at today and that was the prevailing question lingering on his head.
Viloria has a plus-plus changeup and that can make young hitters eager to prove their worth look silly. He uses the same arm speed as his fastball and gets tremendous late break on the offering. Hitters commit to the pitch before realizing the slip is on the way.
As stated previously, his fastball had gained a few ticks and was reaching the low-90s while sitting at 89-91 mph. That will only aid him moving forward. The biggest concern, however, has been the control of the pitch. He has not been able to consistently throw it for strikes. Until that is rectified, Viloria will continue to work deep into counts and get into trouble, especially as the hitters improve.
The southpaw has a working breaking ball – a pitch that needs refinement. It is loopy and lacks consistency within the zone.
"I have worked hard on my legs," Viloria said. "I run a half hour every day before practice and am working on my core. I will be in shape when I do come back. When I come back, I will be strong so I can pitch more innings."
"The changeup is great, the velocity has gotten better, the breaking ball is better," Smith said. "He is a guy who has matured. His English is good, he is in shape – all the things we have talked to about he has done. Now, he just needs to get out and do it on a regular basis."
Conclusion: Repeatable mechanics was one issue he faced and finding a comfortable delivery will aid his overall control. Viloria is a smart kid with a terrific grasp for English and could blossom with experience. Losing any more time will seriously hamper his future in baseball.
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