Just days prior to his 19th birthday, unheralded Dominican pitching prospect Alexander Vizcaino finalized a deal with the Yankees for a $14,000 signing bonus. A late bloomer by international free agent standards, Vizcaino spent almost all of his first three professional seasons at the various Rookie-ball levels of the Yankees system.
Then in 2019, while pitching in the same Low-A Charleston rotation as highly-regarded Yankees prospects Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Matt Sauer, and Roansy Contreras, the lanky right-hander began to display big gains. Two of his three pitches attracted the eye of numerous scouts and evaluators along the way.
Vizcaino finished seven innings four times, more than any other member of the Yankees’ organization in 2019. Now a member of the 40-man roster and less than a month away from his 24th birthday, Vizcaino is primed to reach the upper levels of the Yankees’ system and could even be in line for his major league debut this coming year.
2019 Stats (High-A Tampa): 27.1 IP, 4.28 ERA, 3.20 xFIP, 8.89 K/9, 3.62 BB/9, 51.9% GB
2019 Stats (Low-A Charleston): 87.2 IP, 4.41 ERA, 3.16 xFIP, 10.37 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, 46.3% GB
Prospect Rankings (Yankees System): 11 (FanGraphs), 9 (MLB), 7 (Baseball America)
The pitch that improved the most and caught everyone’s attention in early 2019 was Vizcaino’s changeup. By many accounts, it is the best changeup in the Yankees system, and is rated as a nearly-elite pitch already. It comes in around 90 mph with a splitter action that allows it to simply drop off the table.
Vizcaino’s improved fastball velocity also helps that changeup become a more effective weapon. In 2019, he was able to sit 94-98 mph throughout his starts and touched triple digits on occasion. The impressive fastball and elite changeup give him a two-pitch mix that leads evaluators to see his floor as an effective reliver.
In order to remain a starter, Vizcaino will have to show an improved slider as he reaches the upper levels of the minor leagues. Developing a more effective slider was the focal point for Vizcaino’s time at the alternate training site in 2020. Working with Yankees pitching coordinator Sam Briend, Vizcaino had a dedicated training environment to improve his slider. The Yankees reportedly tweaked Vizcaino’s mechanics while he was at the alt site in order to improve his ability to throw the slider.
After finishing the 2019 season with High-A Tampa and then spending time at the alternate training site facing upper-level hitters, Vizcaino could start the 2021 season as high as Double-A Somerset. It is also possible that the Yankees would assign Vizcaino to High-A Hudson Valley for a period of time with the anticipation that his performance will force a quick promotion.
As a member of the 40-man roster who will also be spending his entire season a short drive from Yankee Stadium, it is possible that timing could result in Vizcaino receiving his first promotion to the major leagues. Several players have been promoted straight from the Double-A level to the majors in the past to fill a short-notice gap. It is also completely possible that if Vizcaino’s slider shows improvement, he might be the Yankees’ best internal pitching option at any given time this coming season.
Alexander Vizcaino has risen from a prospect with modest expectations of success as a professional to one of the best pitching arms in the Yankees system. This coming season, he will be challenged with facing upper-level hitters, and his ability to execute his third pitch will determine what his ceiling can be.