San Francisco Giants: Prospect Raffi Vizcaino is piling up strikeouts
San Francisco Giants pitching prospect Raffi Vizcaino is striking out everyone in sight. How long before we see him in the majors?
The San Francisco Giants brass made the decision to move Raffi Vizcaino to the bullpen during the offseason.
The 23-year-old had turned in back-to-back mediocre seasons as a starter, posting a 4.98 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 77.2 innings at Single-A in 2017, and a 4.65 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 79.1 innings at High-A in 2018.
A spike in his walk rate from 3.2 to 5.9 BB/9 last season likely played a major role in the front office’s decision to pull the trigger on moving him into a relief role.
What a decision that has been.
The burly right-hander was sent back to High-A to begin the 2019 campaign and he responded by posting an utterly dominant 1.69 ERA and 0.69 WHIP with an eye-popping 30 strikeouts in 16 innings or work before he was promoted to Double-A.
Since arriving in Richmond, he has been lights out.
In seven appearances, he has tossed 9.1 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out 13.
FanGraphs ranked him as the No. 27 prospect in the San Francisco Giants system on May 17, 2019, and wrote the following:
"“Vizcaino has been hurt for long stretches during the last few years and was moved to the bullpen this spring. He’ll touch 98 but sit mostly 91-95, and he has an above-average changeup, as well as two lesser breaking balls.”"
His curveball is ahead of his slider as far as his two breaking pitches are concerned, and it has a chance to play up when used more sparingly in a relief role.
So how long before we see him in San Francisco?
With a major sell-off likely coming this summer, a number of roster spots figure to open up, both in terms of the active roster and the 40-man roster.
Guys like Williams Jerez, Melvin Adon and Ray Black will likely get the first crack at any bullpen spots that are opened up by trades, so there’s no guarantee that Vizcaino will make his MLB debut this year.
However, since he signed all the way back in 2013, he will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason, which means the Giants will need to add him to the 40-man roster or risk losing him to another team.
Since he will need to be given a 40-man roster spot anyway, the Giants may be more willing to give him a shot down the stretch.
For now, he’ll continue to mow down minor league hitters at a staggering rate.