Prospect Profile: Roberto Novoa

The Randall Simon trade is finally starting to pay dividends for the Tigers at the big league level, with Roberto Novoa debuting in the Detroit bullpen last season. Will the 2005 season bring more prgoress for Novoa, and better results for the Tigers?

Roberto Novoa
Position: Right Handed Pitcher Height: 6-5 Weight: 200
Born: 8/15/1979 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Background
Novoa came to the Tigers organization as one of the main components in the Randall Simon trade of 2002. Signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1999, Novoa has experienced success at nearly every stop of his professional career. Working primarily as a starter in the low minors, Novoa posted an overall 3.94 ERA and a .267 batting average against in four minor league seasons. The 2004 season was Novoa's first as a full-time reliever, and the results were no different. In 41 appearances with the AA Erie Seawolves, Roberto tossed 79 innings, posting a 2.96 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and a dominating 7-0 record out of the bullpen. After a dominating stint in the Eastern League, Novoa was called upon to help settle a combustible Detroit bullpen. Aside from a rough stretch in August, Novoa was a dominating force in the Tiger pen, and may have solidified his spot for 2005.

Scouting Report
Novoa is the proud owner of a dominant two-pitch arsenal, which includes a mid-90s fastball and a hard, sharp slurve. Novoa has been working with little success at adding a split-finger fastball to his repertoire. Roberto's fastball as a starter was consistently in the 93-95 range, but as a reliever, he has regularly dialed it up to 97 mph. Combining this fastball with his devastating breaking ball and reasonable control, Novoa has taken well to his role as a late inning, high leverage reliever. Even without further development of his splitter, Novoa has enough to become a very good major league reliever. His large frame still has room to add muscle and potentially more velocity, and his composure on the mound lends well to pitching in tight spots. The only thing holding Roberto back from dominating his competition is his occasional bouts with wildness, which have become less frequent with increased maturity.

Performance

Year

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

2004

Erie

7-0

2.96

41

0

4

59

18

79.0

1.03

2004

Detroit

1-1

5.57

16

0

0

15

6

21.0

1.48


Health Record
Roberto has been healthy throughout his career to this point.

The Future
After demonstrating his ability to get Major League hitters out consistently, Novoa has a very good chance at breaking camp with the Tigers in 2005. With bullpen upgrades sitting atop the offseason priority list, Novoa's presence for a full season could be just another piece to that improved relief corps. As a hard-thrower who does not give up a lot of homeruns, Roberto could be Ugueth Urbina's successor in the set-up role in front of newly signed closer Troy Percival. Look for Novoa to try and distinguish himself this spring, hopefully heading north to Detroit for Opening Day. It is possible he could start the season with Toledo of the International League, but he won't be there long if he continues to pitch well.


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