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Scouting Report: Emiliano Fruto

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on April 28, 2006

Compiled through inquiries from three scouts, none the M's organization, Dwight Bernard the Rainiers pitching coach, and Rafael Chaves, who was Fruto's PC last summer, as well as my own observance of the pitcher himself.

Emilaino Fruto is a well-built 21-year-old with a great arm and really solid stuff. Standing 6-2 and weighing 235 pounds, the right-hander has the physical frame to bring it at full velocity for extended innings, which is why the Mariners have not ruled out Fruto as a starting pitcher.

But simply put, he's better suited for the bullpen, where his 91-94mph fastball, plus change and above-average curve ball can present major problems for any lineup in the late innings of a ball game.

Fruto was signed as non-drafted free agent in 2000, which is deceiving because had he been draft eligible he'd have been an early selection. He was scouted as a starter with plus stuff and has moved swiftly through the system, splitting his time as a starter and setup man, and was San Antonio's closer for a portion of last season.

He's always faced more experienced bats and done well, specifically after a short period of adjustment time as he dons a new level.

His Achilles heel has been his control from day one, walking 4.4 batters per nine innings pitched, which is detrimental to a starter's scheme. In relief he's experienced the same issues, but made strides in Double-A last year, posting a decent 2.97 BB/9 ratio.

He struggled in Tacoma, walking 11 in 11 frames and posting an ERA of 13.09 but after a few big-time bumps in the road he settled down, including a few solid postseason appearances.

He has to learn to tryst his stuff and not pick at the corners and he's currently doing that in Tacoma, with just one bad outing when he walked three batters. Through games of Friday night, Fruto has allowed just seven hits in 12 2/3 innings, walking seven (just four in six appearances) and striking out 15.

The Colombian has big-league stuff and with a little more seasoning in Triple-A is just about ready to take a spot in the bullpen in Seattle. They could certainly use the help, and because Fruto can go two innings at a time, he might prove to be extremely valuable.

Strengths: Fruto is a very aggressive pitcher but could stand to pitch inside more often. His fastball has good life and if he used his low-90s heat to establish the inner half of the plate, his off-speed stuff would be even more effective. His versatility is very valuable, as the M's learned with Julio Mateo and Ryan Franklin. Not many middle relievers have the stuff Fruto has, which is setup stuff.

Weaknesses: It's pretty simple with Fruto. If he's throwing strikes, he's good. If he's walking batters and pitching with runners on a lot, he's forced to back off his heater and serve up a hittable pitch. It's critical for him to get ahead. It's the difference between Fruto being a late-inning reliever or a long man. He must command his pitches and trust that his stuff will get him outs.

Tools – Now/Future

Fastball: 60/65

Curve Ball: 55/60

Change: 60/70

Control-Command: 45/55

Delivery-Mechanics: 50/60

Staying Power: 50/60

Overall Future Potential: 56

Fruto throws from a short-armed 4/5 slot, but doesn't fully short arm his pitches. His delivery simply has a safe hitch at the top (think George Sherrill without the angle), and it's raised no red flags for future injuries.

But it may explain his command issues a bit. The M's aren't tinkering with it, as Bernard and Rice are just pushing Fruto to repeat his delivery and find a consistent release point.

Fruto's MLB Comps include Julio Mateo, circa 2003 (Fruto has better stuff and his plus change makes Fruto a much better bet to sustain long-term success), Juan Rincon of Minnesota and Cleveland's Rafael Betancourt and Guillermo Mota.

If Fruto can sharpen his command, there's nothing stopping him from being an effective relief arm in the big leagues. Expect him to make his major league debut this season, and he could hold his roster spot if he throws strikes.

In the end, he needs more time to get his mechanics in line to allow him to stay away from falling behind in counts. He's not ready for the big time yet, but the M's often call for a player who needs more time in the minors.

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13 Responses to “Scouting Report: Emiliano Fruto”

  1. dnc said

    If he really has 3 above average pitches, it makes no sense not to start stretching his arm out for the rotation.

    After reading your report I’m more intrigued by this kid than I’ve ever been. Hopefully he can get his command under control and be dominant.

  2. He doesn’t have good command, so starting him when his future is most likely in relief makes little sense.

    The idea once guys get past their first year or two is to start putting them in position to succeed WHILE they are developing.

    As Fruto got through the lineups the second and third time around, his command got even worse.

    As a reliever, all he needs to do is throw strikes for 8 or 10 batters at most and is unlikely to see the same guy twice.

    But, the reason he’s not closing is because they do want him getting more than one inning per outing so he can actually work through the command issue.

    He’s been good this season, I really like him.

    I think he should have never stopped starting, because by now the club would already know whether he can do it against the better hitters in the minors.

    AFTER a guy gets to AAA and is on the brink of the bigs is NOT the time to try him in the rotation again.

    You can always toss a kid into the pen after he fails as a starter. But he never started regularly above A ball, so… how do they know?

    They don’t, which is why they say they haven’t ruled it out…

    Same with Soriano. At some point he’ll be given the opportunity to start again, barring an injury or a huge hole in the pen.

  3. dnc said

    Man I hope you’re right about Sori. I keep dreaming of a Felix, Daisuke, Sori, Lincecum, Washburn rotation.

    Pipe dream, I know.

  4. I don’t know that that is a pipedream.

    Unlikely? Perhaps, but I know for a fact that they WILL go hard after Matsuzaka and WILL give Raffy a shot to start again unless there’s an obstacle in the way, such as the bullpen not being able to take the hit or Soriano’s health being a question.

    As far as the draft goes, Lincecum will take his biggest jump in projections once teams get to talk to him more. Because it’s then that they will learn he’s a dude to be reckoned with and has a great, tough attitude to go with the best curve ball college baseball has seen in 10 years. Yes, it’s better than Prior’s.

    I don’t know this for fact, but I believe the M’s are just waiting to see if he’s going to be aan easy sign because he’s a Seattle kid.

    If he even hints that he might be, three things WILL happen.

    1. He’ll probably only hint that to Seattle if they promise to pay him what he wants at the fifth slot, considering he might be pulling the wool over the eyes of KC, Tampa, Colorado and Pittsburgh. Who’d want to sign a contract with KC or Tampa right now, and Colorado is pitcher’s hell.

    Pitsburgh is just going nowhere fast and the ONLY plus to signing there for TL is that his buddy Brent Lillibridge is in their system, though he’d probably never play with him unless BL went on a tear and made the bigs at some point.

    2. Seattle would start to talk a lot about wanting Miller, Lincoln and Morrow, to help their stock.

    3. In the end, TL would be a Mariner, because Pitt and KC can’t afford to take the risk of a kid that a lot of the right people see as a high injury risk, and is going to be tough to sign, at least in the way of dollars.

    I can see it happening.

    But it’s probably up to Tim himself. If he wants to go fifth and maybe lose a little bit of money, maybe 500 grand at most, to stay home and pitch for the Mariners, it’ll happen. All he has to do is start talking about big huge dollars and how hard it’s going to be to sign him and how long he’s willing to sit out.

    DM is going to come down to NYY and Seattle, unless DM already has a preference for someone else.

    Having Johjima here is aboslutely enormous in the hunt for Matsuzaka. HUGE.

  5. So, back to Fruto…

    With the whole Nageotte and Livingston thing, and bringing up two of Tacoma’s starters to fill in for the heavily-used bullpen, I’m still baffled why the M’s didn’t just promote Fruto and call it good. The M’s wanted a guy who throws strikes, which, again, baffles me why they called Nageotte up first (since he’s still working out the control issues). Calling up Nageotte or Livingston only makes sense if the M’s wanted to replace someone in the rotation.

    Since all three of these guys could use some more ripening on the Tacoma vine, I just don’t understand why the M’s would fill a perceived need in the bullpen with two of the guys who really didn’t need to have their development as starters interrupted. Fruto could’ve and should’ve been called up. The M’s don’t need four left-handers in the bullpen.

    I’m “cornfused!!!!”

  6. Allen Jacobs said

    M’s probably want Fruto to get more AAA innings as he is only 21. I would like to see him get challenged by a callup at some point this season.

    I would also like the M’s to challenge guys like Lowe and Kahn plus Williams and Guarmato to SA and INL respectively.

    M’s mgmt seems more interested in advancing player more rapidly and the guys mentioned above have interesting talent.

  7. 2quarters said

    Hey JAC –

    Felix throwing that slider a lot today huh?

  8. JasonAChurchill said

    Felix did throw his slider today… bout 9 times i think.

  9. slim said

    It seems like only a couple weeks ago Lincecum was a late first rounder or even a third rounder and it seemed questionable that the M’s would reach for him in the second round.

    How far is TL from being major league ready? Aren’t his mechanics really sloppy? Will the M’s (or some other team) just let him go with what he’s doing or will they want to rebuild him?

    Soriano seems to be the heir apparent at closer. Take him out of the pen and you’re left with Putz and Sherill as a the only reliable bullpen arms. I would think the M’s would have to see an influx of bullpen talent before they switch Soriano back to a starter.

    And isn’t Matsuzaka elgible to be posted this offseason? He wouldn’t be a free agent until after 2007. If he does get posted, does he really have that much say in which team he gets to pitch for?

  10. It’s still questionable, but the more they get to interact with him versus just watching him pitch, the more they’ll like him – as is with other clubs as well, but the M’s are so close they’ll always be there in droves.

  11. Both my wife and I noticed (and that we noticed is somewhat of a big deal, since neither of us are really polished scouts) that Fruto seems to pitch from his upper-body and arms, moreso than his legs.

    Here’s a few examples:

    example 1

    example 2

    example 3

    (The entire set of pix I published from yesterday’s game can be found here)

  12. He does, Paul, which is why Bernard is trying to get him to lengthen his stride to the plate and get his body into it more.

    But since he’s a reliever there isn’t much concern for injury, though he could probably add velocity and better command.

  13. […] Right-hander Emiliano Fruto was called up on Sunday and went the final 3 2/3 for the save in his first major league appearance and has the stuff to be a mainstay in the Mariners pen. […]

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