Name: James Pazos
DOB: May 5, 1991
Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Fastball. The metamorphosis of Pazos fastball-wise from when he first entered the professional ranks has been nothing short of staggering. Once primarily a power four-seam hurler who sat anywhere from 91-97 mph, he has changed himself into almost an exclusive sinking two-seam pitcher. He has been able to generate a ton of movement with the two-seamer and while the high-end velocity range saw a slight decrease initially it proved to be just temporary as he was once again bumping some 97s and 98s with his sinking two-seamer last season, and still sits mostly 91-95 mph. And while the two-seamer is harder for pitchers to control it really hasn't been an issue for Pazos; he can command his fastball relatively well despite it diving and dancing across the plate. The fastball shows a lot of deception and late life explosion too. A true plus big league offering, it's both a high contact out-pitch and a strikeout weapon as well.
Other Pitches. Pazos has also made a ton of progress with his secondary pitches too. Both his slider and changeup are above average big league offerings and both will flash plus potential on any given day. He relies mostly on his slider between the two these days. Once a loopier high-70s offering it now sits in a more powerful mid-80s range with better depth and late-breaking action. Like his fastball, it has become a very reliable strikeout weapon against both lefties and righties. His changeup has also undergone a major transformation over the years. Like his fastball, his changeup shows a lot of late fade and depth, and it is the mirror image of his fastball delivery. A short-inning reliever, however, as good as the changeup has gotten it is still his third pitch and he doesn't go to it quite as often but he does have it in his back pocket when the need arises.
Pitching. Despite being a high-strikeout pitcher, Pazos' approach is actually built to induce a lot of early count contact and get opposing batters to pound pitches into the dirt. In fact, ironically, he has become a better strikeout pitcher when he began focusing more on trying to get early contact. The change from four-seam hurler to two-seam pitcher has also allowed him to live predominantly in the lower-half of the zone so when he misses the strike zone he is actually missing down most of the time, and it's a huge reason that he's been so prevalent at keeping the ball in the yard [he's given up just one home run combined over the past two seasons]. He has a real bulldog mentality too, throwing a lot of strikes early and often. Because he does get so much movement with his pitches the command can run a little cold for stretches but he also has natural double-play inducing ability so he is very adept at limiting the damage when he walks batters. He employs a business-like approach on the mound and hardly ever shows any emotion.
Projection. Pazos' game has come a very long way in a relatively short period of time. All three of his pitches have made tremendous progress since he first entered the system and so has his approach on the mound, but what hasn't changed has been his long-term big league projection. He always projected best as a long-term big league setup man given his plus velocity and ability to get out both left-handers and righties and that projection not only still rings true to this day but it seems that projection is more likely than ever given how far his game has come. With virtually no weaknesses in his game he compares favorably to Pittsburgh Pirates' left-handed setup man Tony Watson. Like Watson, Pazos won't exactly be a household name among most fans but his value to a big league bullpen could be priceless given his propensity for consistency and his versatility to slide into any of the back-end bullpen roles the team asks of him.
ETA. N/A. We tabbed Pazos' big league arrival for 2015 and he got there last year, posting a 0.00 ERA in his first eleven big league appearances. Few organizations can boast the kind of left-handed relieving depth the Yankees now have, however, so it's quite possible that Pazos could begin the 2016 season back in Triple-A Scranton even though he's big league ready right now. He's certainly a big league option for the Yankees whenever the need arises.