Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2020: Alexander Vizcaino (RHP, #7)
Today we continue our Yankees Top-30 Prospects Countdown for the 2020 season with RHP Alexander Vizcaino.
After signing for only $14,000 out of the Domincan Republic as part of the Yankees the 2015/16 IFA Class, Vizcaino was much older than most of the other talent available and because of that not as highly regarded. While he spent three seasons from 2016-2018 in Rookie ball working on his game, in 2019 Vizcaino developed into a true prospect as he added velocity to his fastball to sit in the mid- to high-90s (topping out at 100 MPH) as well as a truly great curveball. Questions on if he can develop a third pitch are closely tied with his future as a three-pitch, mid-rotation starter or a two-pitch, high-leverage reliever.
(Screenshot From Jason Woodell Video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fMcClX96kA)
Alexander Vizcaino, RHP (#7):
Age/Date of Birth: 22 Years Old (05/22/1997)
2019 Team(s): Tampa Tarpons (Class A Advanced), Charleston RiverDogs (Class A)
2019 MiLB Statistics: 6-6 Record, 4.38 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 115.0 Innings, 128 Strikeouts, 38 Walks, (21 Games, 21 Games Started)
Height/Weight: 6’2”/160 Pounds
Acquired: Signed by the Yankees during the 2016 IFA Class.
MLB ETA: 2022
Yoendrys Gomez Scouting Grades (20-80 Scale):
What to Know:
Coming out of the Dominican Republic, Alexander Vizcaino signed for only $14,000 and wasn’t very highly regarded considering how he was much older than most top prospects during the 2015/16 International signing period. Signing late in the period in May, he signed just in time to make his professional debut in the same season. As with our prospect from yesterday with Yoendrys Gomez, Vizcaino was not seen as much of a promising star, but instead a piece to work on and hope around.
Nearly 19 years old when he began in professional career in 2016, Vizcaino spent the season with in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) and the Yankees 1. Pitching in 11 games and recording 6 starts, Vizcaino went 0-5 with a 4.89 ERA over 35.0 innings. He didn’t flash put-away stuff (K:BB of 27:13) and he got hit hard (GO/AO of 1.67), which wasn’t promising. But, even though the stats weren’t there he was making improvements.
In 2017, Vizcaino was bumped up to making his American professional debut with the Pulaski Yankees, and while his stats continued to climb with a 5.79 ERA and 1.79 WHIP over 51.1 innings, he did start more games (11), won some games (3-5 record), and was hit to an incredible batting average against (BAA) of .321, which is incredibly unsustainable and should indicate an outlier season.
The Yankees didn’t give up on the starting pitcher, sending him back to Pulaski to begin 2018 and where he would stay for all but one appearance in the season. While he didn’t shine bright, he did lower his ERA to a then-best of 4.50 over 11 starts and 54.0 innings. While his K:BB rate didn’t go up too much (55:21), he did limit his GO/AO to 1.29 and had a much better BAA of .239. His overall numbers were inflated a lot as he had a quick one-game stint with the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A) where he pitched 4 innings and allowed 6 earned runs, but improvements were being shown.
Starting 2019 back in Charleston after a terrible 1 game showing the season prior, this is where Vizcaino started to make himself a player to watch, as he didn’t stick around one level for the whole season. After 16 starts to a 4.41 ERA with the RiverDogs and great numbers (K:BB of 101:27, WHIP of 1.22, GO/AO of 1.31), he earned a promotion up to the Tampa Tarpons for 5 games. While his numbers did go up with a 1.61 WHIP and 2.07 GO/AO, his ERA did drop to 4.28. Overall, it was his first season eclipsing 100 innings pitched, as well as his first without a losing record as he went 6-6 across both teams. These performances also moved him from being an unranked prospect all the way to #13 in the Yankees farm system, and the #7 on the preseason list for 2020.
Overall, Alexander Vizcaino has become a promising starter. With time he went from a low-90s fastballer to sitting comfortably between 94-98 MPH (and topping out at 100 MPH) during his 2019 campaign. He also commands a low-90s changeup with splitter action that may be his best pitch, yet his third pitch, a “slider” acts more like a “slurve” and has a lot of work to be desired. With a refinement to command that should continue to come with age, Vizcaino could develop into a mid-rotation starting piece if he is able to wield a three-pitch arsenal. If not, a promising career in the bullpen as a high-leverage arm and a two pitch combo could be a good fit.
.What Will the Future Hold?
Vizcaino, after only pitching in 5 games with Tampa Tarpons in 2019 should be expected to continue playing their going into the 2020 season. Continuing another season at a level he has experience with could go a long way in helping him continue to gain control and maybe also help him continue to develop his third pitch more. I would also expect him to stay with Tampa for all of 2020 given the shortened season and personal feelings about his needing more time to develop. This would still allow for a timeline where in 2021 he would be with the Trenton Thunder and 2022 with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, allowing an easy (in theory) debut in the MLB coming in that latter season.
As a prospect, Alexander Vizcaino seems to be ranked a little high. While his upside seems to be reachable, his topping out as a #3 starter does not scream that he should be so highly ranked. Echo that for his high-ish floor with becoming a high-leverage reliever. Those pitchers tend to sit more the mid-teens in a good to decent farm system, which the Yankees have. Unless he absolutely destroys competition in 2020, I would expect a move down the prospect ranks as scouts realize they got a little too prospect happy about his future.