The Cleveland Indians #4 prospect, right-hander Danny Salazar
, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006 when he was just 16 years-old. He's taken a slow path to majors, playing for eight different Cleveland affiliates en route to his Major League debut on July 11th. He picked up the win, going 6.1 innings and yielding one lone run. He struck out seven and walked one and threw 67 of his 94 pitches for strikes.
The Indians sent him back to Triple-A after the game where he made four appearances. In those 17 innings he struck out 29 and walked one. The only question remaining was when
he'd get his next opportunity in the Big Leagues. A finger injury to Corey Kluber answered that question, and Salazar was called up to start Wednesday against the Tigers.
Salazar was impressive once again, striking out 10 Detroit hitters, including Miguel Cabrera three times. It was Cabrera that had the last laugh though, sending Salazar's 103rd, and last, pitch deep to center for a two-run go-ahead blast. Let's take a closer look at Salazar's performance.
Standing just 6-foot tall, Salazar looks effortless on the mound bringing upper 90's heat. Salazar's fastball touched triple digits once in the 6th inning, his 87th pitch. He held velocity deep into the game, throwing 98 in his final frame. The pitch had average movement and Salazar, who pitches aggressive and confident, overthrew it occasionally. The command was average and needs some work. He missed badly a few times, wasting some pitches way out of the zone. He also missed over the plate when ahead in the count. This looks like a pitch that will miss a lot of bats, but occasionally will get hit hard. Fastball Grade
Salazar throws a change-up with a split grip. It flashes plus-plus at times, coming in 86-89 mph with a deep sink. There isn't a lot of lateral movement and the pitch sometimes hangs up in the zone. Salazar is comfortable throwing it to both right and left-handed batters. Below is one of his nastier ones:
That image speaks for itself, and it is a perfect example of a pitch flashing plus-plus. Split-Change Grade
At times, it is very difficult to tell the difference between Salazar's slider and split-change. According to Pitch/Fx, both pitches are thrown from 86-89 and have vertical movement within an inch. The slider sweeps away from right handed hitters at times, but sometimes it doesn't get a lot of horizontal movement. In Wednesday's match-up, Pitch/Fx showed the slider moved horizontally just 3.68 inches more than the split-change on average. That lack of separation means the hitter has less of an adjustment to make at the plate, making the pitches less effective. In the below chart, it is easy to see how the two pitches blend together.
The slider lacks plus horizontal movement, but could be an effective pitch. Slider Grade
Overall, Salazar has a ton of potential. He looks capable of stepping into the Indians rotation right now and being an average or better starter, with the strength and stamina to throw a lot of innings. His biggest weakness is a lack of a true third pitch. In order to reach his full ceiling he'll need to refine his command and get a little more efficient with his pitches. Overall Projected Grade
Thanks to BrooksBaseball.net for the Pitch/Fx image
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