Scouting Report: LHP, Chaz Hebert

The New York Yankees selected left-handed pitcher Chaz Hebert in the 27th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Breaux Bridge High School in Louisiana. He spent the majority of his first two seasons pitching at the Yankee minor league complex and, seemingly stalling there, he finally got his long-season league opportunity last year and wound up having a breakout season.

[Photo by Mark LoMoglio]

Vital Statistics:
Name: Chaz Hebert
Position: Pitcher
DOB: September 4, 1992
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 180
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"The entire season was a bit of a surprise to be honest with you," Hebert said. "I started off in Spring Training and it went really well. I ended up staying in Extended Spring Training and I was obviously a little upset about that. I kept my head up though and kept working and wound up getting a shot to pitch across the street for high-A Tampa.

"I did alright, not too bad, and told me to stay there one more time. It went really well. It was really fun and had one more outing after that and after that I got the call to go to Charleston, and that was fun. I worked my butt off and it went well. The season went good for me and I think I learned a few things, a lot of things actually just being able to see different hitters in different leagues.

"It was fun, it was a great experience. It was a much needed experience to be honest with you. I was stuck in the GCL for two years and in Extended for a third year so last year was definitely a big leap for me."

He admits that the lack of change in scenery in his first two and half seasons was difficult to say the least. As one can imagine, not getting promoted for so long had him questioning his abilities on the mound.

"The first year I was in the GCL I had just gotten drafted [the previous year]," he said. "I was all excited for it and I worked pretty hard, and I had a pretty good year.

"The next year when I was in Extended [Spring Training] and then in the GCL again, I was asking questions; why am I here? Why are other people moving ahead of me? I performed well so I got down on myself a little bit which was obviously the wrong thing to do and I paid for it my second season. I kind of went downhill.

"In the third year I kept my head up. Even though I was in Extended [Spring Training] again I was doing everything I could to get better and just get the opportunity to show what I can do to prove myself. Somebody got hurt in Tampa, I got the opportunity, and I took advantage of it."

He actually took full advantage of it. He shook off a disappointing 2013 campaign that saw him post a 5.40 ERA in his repeat Gulf Coast League season by posting a combined 2.76 ERA between high-A Tampa and low-A Charleston last season.

He admits that a big part of his breakout season last year was the mental leap made. He wasn't doubting himself anymore and was finally pitching with some confidence again. Throw in the fact he was finally pitching in front of fans and having all of the adrenaline that goes along with that made a huge difference.

It wasn't just all mental maturing either. He physically began maturing as well. Once a scrawny 170 pounds when he was first drafted, he got up to 190 pounds at the start of last season and saw a spike in his velocity. He also improved both of his secondary pitches and then added a third one.

"Physically I put on a good amount of weight last offseason. I put on like ten pounds and my velo went up. I was throwing in the low-90s so that was a plus. What really helped me though was the major improvements to my changeup. I got out of a lot of big situations last year with that pitch.

"I also learned to throw a cutter. I started throwing that when I got to Charleston and that helped out tremendously, having a whole 'nother pitch. It made it that much easier being able to mix in another pitch."

His first couple of professional seasons were spent improving his curveball, making it less loopy and throwing it harder. After he got that pitch to where he wanted he went to work on his changeup and that pitch in particular took a major step up in 2014.

"I always liked my changeup but I never really got to experiment with it," he said. "I never really took the time to improve it. I was always trying to do my curveball, my curveball, my curveball.

"Finally once I got that figured out I moved on to my changeup and get it the best that I could. I worked on a few grips. Carlos [Chantres] and I worked on a few things, changed my finger placement, and I found a grip that I like. It became one of my best pitches."

He had always had depth to his changeup but last year he added fade to it and as a result it became his main strikeout pitch. Adding a cutter once he got to Charleston last year, that offering gave him another out-pitch.

"I would get like ten ground ball outs a game with my cutter," he revealed. "It was hard for me to figure out at first what I was doing. I then got out in front and I was able to bump up the velo and it had a much shorter break, just four or five inches and that's where I wanted it.

"I was trying to make it cut and not just letting the ball do its thing. I was trying to actually make it move instead of throwing it like a fastball and just cutting through the ball."

Just like he had with his curveball and changeup, Hebert finally got his cutter where he wanted it to be and it made a huge difference in his game. It took him a while to figure out his game all of those years at the minor league complex but now his confidence is beginning to really spike.

"I think I was starting to let it get to me, constantly looking at the rosters of who was in Extended [Spring Training]," he admitted. "I began questioning myself; am I just not good enough? Did they just not see what they wanted to see in me? I didn't know what it was but I kept pitching.

"I'd ask what I was doing wrong and the coaches said 'just keep pitching and you'll get your opportunity'. And finally when I got it and with how I pitched in those games in Tampa it was just a big confidence booster.

"I figured out I could to pitch to these guys, I could pitch to whoever. My confidence was there and having that through the season helped out a lot."

Coming off of the season he just had and spending his current offseason getting even stronger, Hebert, now armed with an assortment of quality big league pitches, no longer questions if he belongs. In fact, he believes he belongs being mentioned among the top pitching prospects now in the Yankee farm system.

"I definitely think so. I've watched a lot of top prospects come in through here and I definitely think I can hang with them, and pitch alongside them. I'm definitely excited for this coming season just to see what I can do," he concluded.





























Staten Island









GCL Yankees









GCL Yankees








Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Cutter.

Fastball. Hebert still isn't a big velocity guy. However, once averaging 87-89 mph when he first signed, he bumped up his average velocity to the 89-92 mph range over the past two years. What has Hebert and the Yankees excited though was he was beginning to average 92 mph with his fastball towards the tail-end of the season last year, leading many to believe he could still add a tick or two in the coming years. He throws primarily four-seam fastballs right now. He's been working on incorporating more two-seam fastballs, a pitch that gets a ton of movement, but he needs to learn how to control it better before it can become a reliable weapon for him.

Other Pitches. Where Hebert has made the most progress is with his secondary pitches. His curveball was once a loopy 67-70 mph years ago and now it's a quality above average big league offering, sitting in the 76-78 mph range. While it is a strikeout pitch at times, there is still some room for more improvement. His main strikeout weapon now is his plus changeup. Once a non-existent pitch for him, it has become his best pitch. Sitting 80-81 mph, it shows excellent fade and depth, and it's the pitch he can throw in any count and in any situation. He rounds out his repertoire with an average big league cutter, sitting mostly in the 86-88 mph range. He can get around it at times and have it be more of a slider which isn't the desired result, but for the most part it's a reliable out-pitch. Like his curveball, it has room to get better.

Pitching. Hebert never had a problem throwing strikes or showing pitch-ability. His biggest issue earlier in his development was his lack of strength and he has taken major steps forward in that regard. Both his curveball and fastball have added power over the years, and with that added zip has come an ever-increasing confidence on the mound. Throw in some vast improvements to his changeup and the addition of a fourth quality pitch in his cutter, Hebert has blossomed into a more powerful four-pitch hurler who can still throw strikes and mix in his pitches. Extremely coach-able, he shows a good pick-off move too.

Projection. Hebert has always had the ceiling of a middle to back-end big league starting pitcher and not much has changed in that regard. What has changed, however, is the likelihood of him potentially realizing that kind of ceiling. He now has four average or better big league pitches, including one in the plus category [his changeup], average or better control and command, and growing confidence. Further developing his relatively new cutter and beginning to control his sinking two-seamer better would go a long way towards aiding his ability in tapping his potential, and there's also the distinct possibility that he could add a tick or two to his fastball in the coming years as well as improve his already above average curveball. There's a Jonathan Niese-like ceiling that is becoming more and more viable with each passing year.

ETA. 2017. Hebert got his big break in his cup of coffee with high-A Tampa last season and that's where he should begin the 2015 campaign. He could use a full season there to further refine his game but don't be surprised if he gets a late season call-up to Double-A Trenton if he continues to progress. He seems poised to make up for lost time.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories