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Observations of Johan Oviedo

What does his future hold?

St Louis Cardinals Summer Workouts Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

One of the best parts of this gig is people reaching out to me to ask my thoughts on certain players. I love it. Usually when it happens on my Twitter I want to expand upon the 280 character limit. Sometimes I remember, I have a platform for such things.

So this all started with a question about Johan Oviedo from @MoeBigs on Twitter.

The short answer is that yes, Oviedo does have starter upside. Between his size and stuff there’s a lot to like. In fact, my colleague here at VEB, Blake Newberry, recently wrote about the buzz surrounding the big righty.

Per usual, Kyle Reis of Birds On the Black does a really good job going in depth on Oviedo during his Dirty 35 writeups. One part that stands out about Oviedo is the bit about him filling out. As Kyle points out, the size has never been the issue, but he slimmed down, which is what is being construed as him ‘filling out’.

As much as I would like to just keep translating Kyle’s thoughts to sound smart, that’s not what we’re doing here.

So to answer the question more in depth, I watched a handful of his starts, all from Springfield in 2019, all with one question in mind: Is Johan Oviedo a starter?

The obvious pro is that he’s huge. His MiLB profile lists him at 6’5” and 245 pounds. When evaluators talk about a body able to handle a ‘starters workload’, well lets just say he has that in spades. This is a big dude.

Raw stuff is the other clear plus with him, but it’s more than that. In watching his starts, I like the confidence he has in his breaking ball. He throws that thing in any count, really. Keep in mind that he has two breaking balls though. His curveball is the one that he throws in any situation, though the slider is the pitch with the higher potential. There is electricity in the way the ball dances.

Truthfully there is one big con at the moment, and that is consistency in his delivery, but I’ll get there. Right now, I want to actually praise some of the work he’s done to improve upon his mechanics. This time with visual aids.

These two screenshots are from Twitter thanks to Lance Brozdowski in 2018 (top picture) and from the Palm Beach Cardinals 2020 (bottom picture).

Disclaimer: These are slightly different angles on the video, and I’ve used my lack of artistic ability to mark them up.

The minors is all about development, so it’s good to see that happen. The difference in camera angles does mean that my eyes could be playing tricks on me here, but truly it appears as if Oviedo is staying back over his back leg more at this point of the deliver instead of diving out with his upper half. In the top video, his front shoulder appears to immediately dive out once he lifts his leg. That’s why his body looks a little more forward on the arrow. This is very small, but it’s the first thing I noticed different in the delivery. Again, the camera angle plays a part in this, but I made sure to get more eyes then mine and there was agreement here.

Small adjustments like that will go a long way to making his mechanics more consistent, which is the biggest knock on him. Any evaluation of Oviedo will talk about the inconsistencies in his finish. When he gets over his front leg on the finish, his stuff plays well and he is the dreamboat version of himself.

The Answer

So, the final answer to the original question, is absolutely he has the makeup to be a rotation guy. His repertoire and raw stuff is something to dream on. What’s holding him back is the command numbers and inconsistency in his delivery.

I can’t ignore the numbers any loner, he did have a BB/9 over 5 in his 113 innings in AA last year, but his K/9 was over 10. The command is going to be a big factor in his outcome, obviously. Finishing over his front leg more often will help that a ton. He’s also 22 and will need to be protected from the Rule 5 this offseason.

To project him long term is tough. Truly, I tend to be optimistic about things like this. Oviedo has so much talent that I am ever hopeful he figures it out. The other side of this coin is opportunity. St. Louis is loaded with young talent that he will have to rise above. But it’s a good problem to have. At the end of the day, here’s to hoping the talent shines through because Oviedo can be a TON of fun.

Keep asking questions @HoothTrevor, they could turn into a whole article!