Johnny Be Good
Cueto's dazzling debut little surprise to scouts
Posted: Friday April 4, 2008 12:07PM; Updated: Saturday April 5, 2008 2:15AM
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Johnny Cueto allowed just one baserunner against the Diamondbacks in seven innings Thursday and became the first Reds pitcher since 1900 to strike out 10 batters in his debut, a 3-2 Cincinnati win. It was a stunning coming out party ... unless, that is, you've been scouting Cueto for years.
"He has a big-time arm,'' said one scout from an American League team who's seen Cueto at least a dozen times.
Cueto, a 5-foot-10 right-hander, is known for a fastball that's 95-96 mph and a superb changeup. Cueto drew decent reviews this spring, then threw a game where he walked five batters and didn't get out of the first inning. So his gem Thursday, where the only blemish was Justin Upton's solo home run in the sixth inning, almost seemed to come out of the blue for the Reds. Though, not to the scouts who've been following him.
Scout's take: Cueto
(At least once a week, I'll provide a scout's in-depth look at a player.)
"His arm action is as clean and loose as you can get. When you see this guy, you think he can be a guy who goes deep into a game or [can] be a closer. He has a better arm than Homer Bailey, who was a No. 1 pick. He's legit. He's where he should be. A lot of scouts will say he's a little on the small side. But that arm is big. He has an explosiveness to his fastball that's a treat to watch.''
My Top 10 Rookies
1. Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs outfielder. He's already off to a nice start (4-for-8), confirming what scouts saw in Arizona. "He only looked overmatched on one or two at-bats,'' one scout said. "He has a nice approach at the plate.'' So far he's the best thing about the Cubs.
2. Joba Chamberlain, Yankees reliever. He created a little stir with a victory dance after whiffing Frank Thomas (though, Thomas said he was OK with it) and looks ready for more eighth-inning domination. New Joba rule: no radio show, which was canceled by GM Brian Cashman.
3. Evan Longoria, Rays third baseman (in minors). A tremendous hitter, he should be with the Rays. Some aren't really sure why he isn't. A Rays' person said the decision was only partially financial (having to do with starting his arbitration-eligible clock), but the scouts think that must be the part that counts. Because they are sure he's ready.
4. Colby Rasmus, Cardinals center fielder (in minors). To a man, every scout in Florida loved him. They also think he should also be in the bigs, especially since he's left-handed and could handle a majority of pitchers. The Cards could use him, too.
5. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox pitcher. He's already thrown a no-hitter, so you know he has great stuff. There were questions about his maturity when Boston made him a sandwich pick in its great 2005 draft, but it has no regrets.
7. Manny Parra, Brewers pitcher. Left-hander who threw a perfect game in the minors last year was the talk of Brewers camp.
8. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox center fielder. Speedster starred last October, turning Coco Crisp into trade bait.
9. Geovany Soto, Cubs catcher. Hit .389 with three homers in a cameo last year and extends the powerful Cub lineup.
10. Daric Barton, A's first baseman. Whenever I saw him this spring, Barton, who came to Oakland in a trade for Mark Mulder after the 2004 season, was crushing the ball.
Some others: Ian Kennedy, Yankees pitcher; Cameron Maybin, Marlins outfielder (minors); Andrew Miller, Marlins pitcher; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers pitcher; Edinson Volquez, Reds pitcher; Jayson Nix, Rockies second baseman.