Name: Chaz Hebert
DOB: September 4, 1992
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Cutter, Slider.
Fastball. Hebert didn't throw a pitch in an official game in 2016 but prior to the injury he mostly threw big league average fastballs velocity-wise in the 89-92 mph range but ones that played to an above average level with the movement it generated. His four-seam fastball -- he's armed with a sinking two-seamer but doesn't throw it all that much, mostly just to give batters a different look -- gets a lot of natural run and tailing action, and he had learned to control it extremely well right before his injury. What nobody really knows now is how long it may take him to regain that top-notch control once he returns from his Tommy John surgery as usually command is the last thing to come back. Given the amount of arm and shoulder exercises he is about to go through during his rehab it's not beyond the realm of possibly that he could come back throwing harder than ever too, especially given the fact there is still some potential good weight to be added to a still rather slender frame. His fastball may not have reached its peak just yet.
Other Pitches. What also allows Hebert's seemingly rather average fastball to play at a higher level is his plus big league chagneup. Just just like his fastball, his changeup, a mirror image of his heater but only slower, gets a bunch of natural fade and depth and he can also command it with relative ease. It is his better strikeout offering and it's a pitch that has come an extremely long way since his earlier days. The changeup though isn't the only pitch to make marked progress over the years; the same can be said of his curveball. He's added nearly ten miles per hour to his curveball over the years and it's now a power strikeout offering, one that sits in the high-70s, and one that he can command quite well too. It's yet another above average pitch. His relatively new cutter is an above average offering as well, sitting mostly in the 86-88 mph range, and it gives him a deadly one-two punch against right-handers with his changeup. Where his Tommy John surgery could really hurt Hebert the most stuff-wise both short-term and long-term is with his still developing slider. It was the only below average pitch in his arsenal prior to the injury and it's probably the pitch he'll re-introduce last once he's healthy enough to pitch again so it could take some additional time to develop.
Pitching. Prior to his Tommy John surgery in April, Hebert was the epitome of 'pitcher', mixing in four average or better big league pitches he could throw for strikes with command at any time and adding in a still developing fifth pitch [the slider]. A cerebral hurler, he knows how to set up batters in chess-like fashion, throwing certain pitches to various locations earlier in counts only to open up spots for later in the at-bat. He also has one of the absolute best pick-off moves in all of baseball so even when batters are able to reach base their running impact is still pretty limited. All of that, the high level pitch-ability, extremely deep arsenal of pitches, and big weapon holding runners in the running game, had his confidence and no-fear pitching mindset soaring prior to his injury.
Projection. The only thing that hasn't changed much over the years since his selection in 2011 is his long-term big league projected; he has always and still best projects as an eventual big league middle to back-end starting pitcher, with the latter his most likely role and the former is more his ceiling. What has changed is the likelihood of fulfilling that potential as the stuff has begun catching up to his advanced level of pitch-ability and command. He will need to get back to where his game was pre-injury once he makes a successful return from his Tommy John surgery and that could muddy things in the short-term role-wise as he regains his confidence and command -- he could theoretically break in initially in a more limited role -- but the smart money says his long-term prognosis still hasn't, nor will it, change much. He still compares favorably to former Mets' southpaw Jonathon Niese, somebody who provide some valuable innings as a starter or some long-relief depth if need be.
ETA. 2018. On track to be big league ready at least by this coming season, Hebert's Tommy John surgery has obviously pushed back his ETA by at least a year. In an ideal world he would be given at least two more minor league seasons to make a full recovery but he might not be afforded that opportunity seeing that he'll be Rule 5 Draft eligible in December of 2017. He's on pace to return to the mound in April of 2017 and while it's not out of the question he sees some big league time at some point next year the safer bet has him getting to the 'bigs' in 2018.