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Thread: First look at Johnny Cueto

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    First look at Johnny Cueto

    First look at Johnny Cueto
    BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM

    SARASOTA, Fla. – Johnny Cueto is this year’s Homer Bailey. He’s got the big arm. He’s got the great minor league stats.

    But until he took the mound Monday for a bullpen session at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, a lot of people in camp had not seen him throw.

    Cueto lived up to his scouting report. His motion is effortless but his fastball has good zip on it. He’s right around the plate with all of his pitches.

    Cueto, a 22-year-old Dominican, is one of the five pitchers competing for the two open spots in the starting rotation.

    “He’s definitely close,” Reds Hall of Famer Mario Soto said. “Look at what he did at Triple-A. It all depends on how fast the team wants to move with him. He could help the team now.”

    Cueto started last year in Single-A Sarasota. He moved all the way up to Triple-A, and he got better as he moved to higher levels.

    He was 4-5 with a 3.33 ERA at Sarasota, 6-3 and with a 3.10 ERA at Double-A Chattanooga and 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA at Triple-A Louisville.

    It’s going to take a good camp for Cueto to win a spot. Bailey went 0-1 with a 19.54 ERA in three spring outings last year and got sent out early.

    The same could happen to Cueto or he could pitch his way onto the Opening Day roster.

    The Reds think enough of him that they refused to trade him this winter. He was reportedly the key to getting Joe Blanton from Oakland, but the Reds wouldn’t include him in a deal.

    Rick Sweet, the manager at Louisville, raves about Cueto.

    “He impressed me, very much so,” Sweet said. “He has very good stuff, and he has command of it. He’s young, so he gets a little emotional. But overall, this guy has a chance to be a very good pitcher.”

    Between the minors and winter ball, Cueto was 16-10 with a 3.07 ERA. The year before, he went 15-3 with a 3.00 ERA.

    “He’s a very good competitor,” Sweet said. “He knows how to win.”

    The one concern with Cueto is his size. He’s 5-foot-10, 183 pounds – not the prototypical size for a right-handed starter.

    But Soto, who was dominant at 6 feet, 185 pounds, doesn’t see that a problem.
    “He’s strong,” Soto said. “That’s what you look for. He works hard at it.”

    Cueto called catcher Alvin Colina over to interpret for an interview because he doesn’t speak English well.

    “Only a little bit,” Cueto said.

    Does he think he can make the team?

    “Yes, I do,” he says.

    What does he have to do to do that?

    “Keep my pitches down in the strike zone,” he said. “I throw a lot of fastballs. Sometimes I elevate my pitches. I’ve got to keep the ball down.”

    That’s classic pitcher-speak, which is fitting because even though he’s young Cueto is considered a pitcher not a thrower.

    “He commands all three pitches,” Soto said. “Fastball, slider, change-up.”
    Cueto is not overpowering on every pitch. But he can be.

    “He has a tendency – he’ll be pitching along (then) all of the sudden a couple hits, maybe an error – he’s a got another notch that he can turn it up to,” Sweet said. “That’s something you don’t see.

    “To me, that is what makes him so good is the discrepancy. When I say 88-92 (mph), he’ll pitch at that – not throw – and use all his pitches. Then he’ll turn it up at times. A lot of good pitchers in the big leagues can do that.”

    http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.d...T04/302180097/

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  3. #2
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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    The Reds think enough of him that they refused to trade him this winter. He was reportedly the key to getting Joe Blanton from Oakland, but the Reds wouldn’t include him in a deal.
    If true, that's very interesting. I'm glad to hear that. If the Reds are still allegedly the front runner for Blanton, I wonder if Beane is willing to lower his demands?

    Good read at any rate.

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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    What does he have to do to do that?

    “Keep my pitches down in the strike zone,” he said. “I throw a lot of fastballs. Sometimes I elevate my pitches. I’ve got to keep the ball down.”
    Yep. My guess is that he can elevate the fastball and dial it up to the mid-90s situationally, but he doesn't pitch there, so to speak. In his normal pacing, he's got to keep the 89-92 down because he does not have that downward plane the taller pitchers do.

    As I've said before, the difference between Cueto's heater and Bailey's may have been underestimated on this board, with all the attention given to secondary stuff. I suspect Homer can get away with more off his fastball than Cueto can, and the fastball is, after all, the best pitch in baseball.

    Which is not to say I'm not real excited about Cueto -- I am.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    ...he's got to keep the 89-92 down because he does not have that downward plane the taller pitchers do.
    Well, to a degree you have a point but the logic is flawed. How do you explain 6'6" Jon Garland or Derek Lowe not throwing that hard? How do you explain Guidry, Pedro or Oswalt?
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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by Spitball View Post
    Well, to a degree you have a point but the logic is flawed. How do you explain 6'6" Jon Garland or Derek Lowe not throwing that hard? How do you explain Guidry, Pedro or Oswalt?
    I think he was just saying the pitch location needs to stay low or else it has a better chance of getting crushed bc there is no downward plane.

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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by fearofpopvol1 View Post
    If true, that's very interesting. I'm glad to hear that. If the Reds are still allegedly the front runner for Blanton, I wonder if Beane is willing to lower his demands?

    Good read at any rate.
    Maybe Beane will take Stanton and Freel for Blanton......right!

    If this is true.....and I doubt it is, then this front office is looney-tunes.
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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by red-in-la View Post
    Maybe Beane will take Stanton and Freel for Blanton......right!

    If this is true.....and I doubt it is, then this front office is looney-tunes.
    Not trading Cueto for Blanton makes them looney-tunes?

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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Not trading Cueto for Blanton makes them looney-tunes?
    Not using SOME prospects for a proven starter at a time when they may actually be able to compete in the worst division in baseball is loney-tunes.

    Over valuing your own prospects is the worst kind of management blindness.....or haven't I mentioned that before?
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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by red-in-la View Post
    Maybe Beane will take Stanton and Freel for Blanton......right!

    If this is true.....and I doubt it is, then this front office is looney-tunes.
    Yeah, the Reds are idiots for not giving away top prospects. Maybe next we can trade Jay Bruce for Jack Wilson.

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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    Yeah, the Reds are idiots for not giving away top prospects. Maybe next we can trade Jay Bruce for Jack Wilson.
    Come on.....who said that?

    OBM, don't use obsurd statements unless you are properly qualified. I spent years learning my craft.
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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by red-in-la View Post
    Not using SOME prospects for a proven starter at a time when they may actually be able to compete in the worst division in baseball is loney-tunes.

    Over valuing your own prospects is the worst kind of management blindness.....or haven't I mentioned that before?
    Sure, some prospects.... but there is a large difference between some prospects and top 25 prospects.

    You have mentioned over valuing your own prospects before, and I agree with you. Its just not happening in this case.

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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Sure, some prospects.... but there is a large difference between some prospects and top 25 prospects.

    You have mentioned over valuing your own prospects before, and I agree with you. Its just not happening in this case.
    Lokk at it from Beane's point of view. Do you trade 27 year old, successful starting pitchers for anything else?
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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    How do you explain Guidry, Pedro or Oswalt?
    More heat than Cueto's got. Probably more movement, too.
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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    Cueto probably should be moved to the pen if he can thit 95-97 there regulary. Having another high leverage bullpen arm would be nice and IMO just as critical as starter depth.

    A low 90's fastball won't cut it with his less than awing stuff in the majors.

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    Re: First look at Johnny Cueto

    No thanks. I don't like taking polished pitching prospects with #1/2 starter potential and moving them to the bullpen for the hell of it.


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