Name: Nestor Cortes
DOB: December 10, 1994
Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Curveball, Slider.
Fastball. Averaging mostly 87-90 mph, Cortes gets knocked by pundits for the lack of plus velocity on his fastball but even though he doesn't light up the radar gun he generates a ton of deception with his big league average heater due to the effortless motion in his delivery and late explosion when it crosses the plate. Batters simply hack at it like it's coming in a lot quicker than it actually is and considering he is quite masterful as using all four quadrants of the plate with his fastball hitters can't really sit on a particular zone. While he isn't tall he does have broad shoulders and is well put together so it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that he could add a tick or two in the coming years and get his 92 mph top velocity up a tad.
Other Pitches. What aids Cortes' merely average fastball velocity to play up a level is his advanced big league changeup. An above average pitch with long-term plus potential, it is the mirror image of his fastball delivery-wise and from an identical release point, and it shows the kind of devastating fade and depth that can make batters look foolish. It is and can continue to be his primary strikeout pitch. He also throws two average or better breaking balls, one a slower curveball that he'll throw in any count and a harder slider to bust righties inside or pitch away to power lefty swingers. Both are srikeout weapons for him. In fact, all three secondary pitches, while currently quality big league offerings and strikeout pitches for him, still have room to get better.
Pitching. Cortes defines the term 'crafty lefty' because he can paint the strike zone with an array of four big league pitches and he's all about mixing up speeds and locations; he is the epitome of pitch-ability. With a very easy pitching motion and given his strong frame, stamina, and pitch efficiency, he is also one who can pitch deep into games, especially given his innate strike-throwing ability and adeptness at limiting walks. He is a very good athlete too, one who can field his position well and repeat his delivery consistently, and hold down the running game. Throw in great makeup and a high level of competitiveness, he has 'moxie' in spades.
Projection. Where Cortes falls a little short prospect-wise is in his projection. He simply isn't very tall and the likelihood of the now 21-year old adding considerable power in the coming years isn't very high. While that will most likely prevent him from becoming a top overall prospect it doesn't mean he can't still pitch like one on any given day; he absolutely can. With stellar fastball command and an already established three-pitch big league secondary arsenal, not to mention enormous makeup intangibles, Cortes has nearly all of the makings of a future starting pitcher someday, one who could slide in nicely in the middle to back-end of a big league rotation [most likely the latter]. Stuff-wise he compares very favorably to former Mets' southpaw Jonathon Niese and like Niese he could potentially help out a big league staff in a number of ways.
ETA. 2018. Cortes has very few weaknesses in his game right now, if any, and therefore has the opportunity to move rather quickly up the minor league ranks. He should open up in low-A Charleston next season and a mid-season promotion to high-A Tampa not only seems reasonable but very likely.