25. Breiling Eusebio (222 points, 20 ballots)
Eusebio’s case as a prospect rests on scouting reports, which have in the past said he clearly had the best stuff in the system among left-handed starting pitching prospects. While that may not still be the case in the wake of signing Ryan Rolison, the scouting consensus is that Eusebio remains a potent arm in the system. Unfortunately, Eusebio could do little in 2018 to bolster those opinions, as his season was limited to just 9 1⁄3 innings with Low A Asheville (he struck out 11, walked three, and allowed five runs on 11 hits) before he suffered an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery.
The 22-year old Dominican, who signed for $100k in 2013, was largely under the radar as a prospect until mid-2017, where in a repeat in Boise he showed a demonstrable uptick in stuff for scouts. A promotion to Asheville ensued, and while Eusebio’s 4.46 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 6.9 K/9 rate in 40 1⁄3 innings was hardly elite, his youth (1.9 years younger than league average) and continued glowing scouting reports provided excellent momentum for the southpaw’s prospect stock.
FanGraphs provides some video of Eusebio from 2017:
FanGraphs ranked Eusebio 12th in the system back in May 2018 with a 40 FV grade:
He’s a quick-armed lefty with a vertical arm slot who will touch 96 and show you a plus curveball and changeup. It’s a high-maintenance delivery, and Eusebio’s arm slot makes it tough for him to work east/west effectively, but his stuff plays better up/down, so perhaps that won’t matter. He’s unlikely to grow into any more velocity but has a three-pitch mix that fits in a rotation if it can be harnessed.
Prior to getting hurt, Eusebio showed signs of developing a plus fastball and curveball, though both offerings need more consistency. He worked at 92-94 mph and tops out at 96 mph with good sink on his heater and his curveball featured power and depth. His changeup had its moments too, though it wasn’t as effective as his top two pitches.
Eusebio has a very compact delivery and is learning to repeat it efficiently. He should have at least average control but his command isn’t yet as advanced, so he’s more hittable than a lefty who can provide three solid pitches should be. If he can return to health and make the necessary refinements, he could be a No. 3 starter.
For a perspective written on Eusebio before his injury, Kyle Glaser of Baseball America told the story of Eusebio’s breakout in Late July 2017, including some video of him in Asheville:
The issue for Eusebio wasn’t stuff, or his control in the purest sense. The problem was his lively fastball had so much movement he had trouble ensuring it ended up over the plate, even if his delivery and release point were clean.
This year, after extensive work in extended spring training, he’s figured it out.
Eusebio ranged from 90-95 mph with his fastball in his latest outing and sat 93-94. At times his fastball went straight, at others it cut, and at others it ran. But in all cases, it was in the strike zone and miserable for hitters to try and get a read on.
The other weapon Eusebio has developed is a dastardly changeup. Thrown consistently at 81-83 mph with identical arm speed as his fastball, the pitch drew foolish swings throughout from baffled Grasshoppers batters. Most importantly, it was consistent, another developmental step Eusebio has taken.
Entering 2019, the Rockies will face significant questions around Eusebio as a prospect. Not only will Eusebio need to fight back to full health and effectiveness, but the Rockies will need to figure out his 40 man roster status. Eusebio was eligible for the most recent Rule 5 draft and will need to be protected if he is both healthy and effective in 2019. The issue is that Eusebio may still not even be in High A ball when that occurs, meaning Colorado runs the risk of Eusebio not even having any minor league options when he is ready for action on the big league club in a few years.
While the above decision is vexing for the Rockies, if I’m evaluating Eusebio on his current prospect status, Eusebio clearly belongs as one of the organization’s top 30. I placed him 27th on my list with a 35+ FV, marking him down for health and proximity concerns as a risk but realizing that Eusebio has the ceiling to be in the top 15 if he proves successful this year.