Braves Pitching Prospect Arodys Vizcaino Battling Injury And Timidity

It was a tense night for Atlanta Braves prospect watchers yesterday as one of the organization's top pitching prospects, Arodys Vizcaino, was pulled from his start in the fourth inning with an unknown injury. Hillcats beat writer Chris Lang brings us up to speed on the extent of the injury:

Three pitches into the fourth inning Monday at City Stadium, Arodys Vizcaino had had enough.

The Hillcats pitcher, who missed a chunk of the 2009 season with a strained muscle in his lower back, told the coaching staff he felt a tweak, a small spasm. And with his command all over the map, Vizcaino was pulled in the middle of Joey Lewis’ second at-bat after throwing three straight balls.

The durability of Vizcaino has been a question since he was acquired as the prospect centerpiece in the 2009 trade with the Yankees that sent Javier Vasquez to New York. Lang describes Vizcaino's injury history:

One of the biggest concerns about Vizcaino is his durability. He’s never pitched more than 86 innings in a season as he’s dealt with a slew of nagging injuries, including a partially torn ligament last year and the 2009 back injury.

The real shocker in this story, though, is the way in which Lynchburg pitching coach Derek Botelho talked so candidly about the issues he is working on with Vizcaino. Coaches in the Braves organization usually aren't this up front about the problems facing their top prospects:

"He’s going soft too much," Botelho said. "He’s not going out there and establishing his fastball right now. His back wasn’t bothering him in the first and second inning. He’s got to pick it up a notch, to me. He’s got to establish his fastball off the bat. He’s not a guy that throws 88-89. He throws 94, 95 mph. I think in the future when he’s out there, and we talked about it when he was taken out, that he’s pitching a little passive, and he needs to pick it up and pitch aggressively and establish his fastball. Then the other two pitches (changeup, curveball) will work off of that.

"Hitters right now are taking too good of hacks off of him."

Don't get me wrong, I like that he's this candid, especially on the record. The culmination of these quotes lead me to believe that Vizcaino is somewhat injury shy and that may lead to a timid approach to pitching. This is understandable considering his history with injuries, but it's something he's going to have to get past to be successful as he moves up the ladder.

This is a situation that we'll have to keep a close eye on going forward. Good work by Chris Lang to get the full story on a guy that a lot of Braves fans are interested in hearing about.

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