Name: Chaz Hebert
DOB: September 4, 1992
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Cutter, Slider.
Fastball. Not one to light up the radar gun at all, averaging more in the 89-92 mph range, Hebert's fastball, while merely big league average velocity-wise, plays to an above average level for the most part with the natural run and tailing action it generates [and that's with his four-seamer]. He throws a better sinking two-seamer these days than he had in previous seasons but it's more of a pitch to give batters a different look; he's still mostly four-seamers. What he has done a much better job of in recent seasons is learning how to control and even command that movement on his fastball. He can now paint the fastball where he wants it. He has slowly gotten stronger over the years and bumped his velocity up from the 87-89 mph range and, with a frame that can still support some more useful mass, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that could still add a tick or two as he continues to mature.
Other Pitches. Hebert's best secondary pitch [and really his best pitch overall] is his plus big leaguge changeup. Like his fastball it has a ton of movement, showing excellent fade and depth, and he can paint that pitch where he wants too. The progress he has made with his changeup since he first signed has been nothing short of staggering as it once was essentially a non-existent pitch. Just like his changeup Hebert has slowly developed his curveball into a very reliable offering. Once a lot loopier and sitting in the high-60s to low-70s, it is now a relatively power pitch, sitting more in the high-70s. It's yet another pitch he can command much better as of late and it is another strikeout weapon for him. While the progress with his curveball and changeup have been huge in his development, what has allowed him to take his game to another level has been the introduction and rapid refinement of what is now an above average big league cutter. Sitting 86-88 mph, it is a huge weapon against right-handers and lefties alike. He is also now working on further developing his still below average slider to give hitters another shape but considering how far his other pitches have come over the years most scouts believe it will at least be an average big league pitch when it's all said and done.
Pitching. 'Pitching" is an apt description for Hebert. He had always shown innate pitch-ability and an uncanny ability to throw a lot of strikes but never really had the necessary command of his pitches let alone the kind of stuff to baffle batters; he now does. He now boasts four big league average or better pitches that he doesn't just throw for strikes but throws with command. Never one to issue a lot of walks anyway, he doesn't hurt himself because he pounds the strike zone early and often with an assortment of pitches that batters can't sit on and now has the stuff to put batters away when he gets ahead in counts. An extremely hard worker and very coachable, it stands to reason that he will be a five-pitch hurler by the time he reaches his prime once he gets the slider going more. With one of the better pick-off moves to first base too he excels in controlling the running game. Perhaps more importantly than anything, however, his confidence has grown leaps and bounds over the years; he pitches with no fear now and that was not the case earlier in his development.
Projection. While the power, stuff, command, and confidence have all really come a long way over the years not much has changed in his long-term big league projection; he still projects best as a middle [his ceiling] to back-end [more likely] big league starting pitcher because of his ability to throw a ton of strikes and overall pitch-ability. What all of his progress between his changeup, curveball, cutter, command, and brimming confidence has changed is the likelihood of him potentially realizing that kind of ceiling. Armed with four to potentially five big league average or better big league pitches he compares favorably to former Mets' southpaw Jonathon Niese, somebody who could slide in nicely into the back-end of a big league starting rotation and provide some valuable innings. Like Niese Hebert won't be a big league world-beater but his proclivity for getting right-handers out nearly as well as lefties gives him viable starting potential.
ETA. 2017. Considering he spent the majority of the 2015 season in high-A Tampa the smart money would be on Hebert opening up in Double-A Trenton to start the 2016 campaign. However, pitching very admirably in his three-game trial late in the year last season in Triple-A, it's not out of the question that Hebert picks up where he left off and bypasses Trenton entirely. His game is pretty close to being big league ready right now.