Pittsburgh Pirates: Luis Oviedo Could Be An Underrated Arm In 2021

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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After being acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2020 Rule 5 Draft selection Luis Oviedo could be an under the radar arm for the team in 2021.

During the Rule 5 Draft, the New York Mets selected right-handed pitcher Luis Oviedo from the Cleveland Indians with the 10th overall pick. Shortly after their selection, the Mets traded Oviedo to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations. Although he was not the top selection in the draft, which belonged to the Pittsburgh Pirates who selected Jose Soriano, Oviedo could be a very underrated player next season.

The right-hander made his presence known during the 2018 season. Through 57 innings between the Indians’ Low-A and High-A teams Oviedo pitched to the tune of a 2.05 ERA, 2.44 FIP and 0.98 WHIP. Oviedo punched out batters at a 29.9% rate while showing solid control, walking them at a 7.6% rate. Oviedo allowed just three home runs, all coming from his time at Low-A where he had a 50.4% ground ball rate.

By the end of the season MLB Pipeline ranked Oviedo as the team’s 10th best prospect. FanGraphs placed him at number seven. When Baseball Prospectus released their top 100 prospect list, they placed Oviedo at #93. Although FanGraphs and Pipeline didn’t rank him as high to start the season, both still placed him as one of the organization’s top 10 prospects at number eight.

Oviedo did struggle in 2019. He pitched 87 innings at the High-A level where he had a 5.38 ERA, 4.41 FIP and 1.37 WHIP. Oviedo saw his strikeout rate drop to 18.9% and his walk rate rise to 10.5%. Still, Oviedo showed he could suppress home runs with a 0.62 HR/9 rate. Some of his struggles can be chalked up to luck with a 62.5% left on base percentage.

Still, going into 2020, FanGraphs still saw him as one of the Indians’ best pitching prospects ranked at number 11 in their organization. Although Oviedo hasn’t gotten the bottom line results, he definitely has the stuff to be a good pitcher.

Oviedo’s fastball is considered his best pitch. Oviedo sits in the mid-90s with it, but has been clocked at 98 MPH. Although he only tosses it with 2250 RPM, his fastball has been given a 55 future grade by FanGraphs and a 60 grade by Pipeline. Pipeline also describes the pitch to have some sinking action which makes up for the lack of spin.

His next best pitch is, or at least was, his change up. FanGraphs sees this as a future 55-grade pitch. However, according to Pipeline, his curveball is now his second best pitch. He threw his curveball more often in 2019 which led to it improving. Now, Pipeline sees his curve with a 55 grade with FanGraphs still giving it a 50-grade. His last pitch is his slider. Although it doesn’t get as much praise as his other three pitches, it still has potential to be at the very least an average pitch.

2021 will be Oviedo’s age-22 season. Although a Rule 5 Draft pick, Oviedo has a future value on FanGraphs of 45 currently. MLB Pipeline says in his current state, he could be a solid mid-rotation starter but would be much more effective out of the bullpen. His stuff would play up out of the pen, but given his potential, the Pirates should give him some opportunities to start. Potentially placing him in a swingman role would maximize his value.

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The Bucs must leave him on the 26-man roster the entire season, or risk losing him to the Indians so he’ll definitely be given a chance. Though he might fly under the radar because he was a Rule 5 Draft pick, Oviedo has the potential to be a quality major league arm for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021.

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