Virgil Vazquez starts for Bonderman Sunday

Vazquez,4-2 with a 2.88 ERA through seven starts for Triple-A Toledo, will make his
major league debut Sunday in place of Jeremy Bonderman, who’ll miss at least
one start with a blister problem on his throwing hand. The 24-year-old was the choice
based on advice from the farm and he’s had some success in 2007 leading the International
League in strikeouts at present posting a 50/10 K:BB ratio in 40 and two-third
innings.

 

The
right-hander was a seventh round NCAA pick in 2003 and has always been profiled as a set up man, or middle inning reliever, for his lack of stuff; a three-pitch repertoire —
fastball, changeup and slider — best described as underwhelming without one
outstanding pitch to build off of.  Both
his college and minor league numbers support the scouting report and he posted
a 4.31 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and a lackluster 6.30 K9 rate in the four pro seasons
coming into this year, noting a better than 3-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and an
ability to hold his own through the level increases.

 

It’s
seems he’s built off a strong Arizona Fall league last year, an early sign that
a light or two may have turned on. His Triple-A batting average against this
season is .265, a similar number to his history.  He does get hit — a common trait in the type
of pitcher he is — and needs to avoid the long ball and any overage in walk totals,
as he can implode readily without the stuff-ability to get out of jams.

 

A similar
young pitcher in stuff who is currently having a degree of major league success
would be Astros’ Chris Sampson, remembering Aaron Harang was thought of in
similar terms coming up through the Oakland system. Vasquez, like the others mentioned, needs to really locate his fastball, continually changing the batting eye, if he’s to have any chance as a major league pitcher.

 

The odds
of this occurring on Sunday are not great, but should be elevated with the
knowledge he’s been doing what is necessary all season; my full stat analysis
indicating the early results are not a fluke. Whether he sticks around long
enough to show he’s capable of doing it against major league hitters is dependant
on how fast Bonderman heals and which version of Chad Durbin takes the mound for
the rest of the month.

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