Scouting Notebook: Vinnie Pestano, a sidewinder for success
One secret behind the surprising success of the Cleveland Indians this season can be found in the bullpen, where rookie right-hander Vinnie Pestano, a product of Cal State Fullerton and Anaheim Canyon High, has become a key contributor.
Pestano, 26, was a lowly 20th round draft choice out of Cal State Fullerton in 2006. He made it to the big leagues with a funky delivery that was easily classified as sidearm but was a little more complicated than that. Pestano is finding success not only because his arm angle is deceptive and unorthodox, but also because his arm works well enough for him to be able to generate above-average stuff.
In his one-inning look at Anaheim on Saturday night, his fastball was 90-94, which is typical, but for Pestano, it’s not the looks but the moves. His fastball at different times flashes late and jumps high in the strike zone and also has defined tail and sink against right-handed hitters. His secondary pitch, a change-up he throws at 80, has late sink to it, making Pestano, in effect, a power sinkerballer. Classifying him as “power” might be a matter of semantics for some, but it’s enough for him to be an eighth-inning set-up arm in the American League with 15 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.
The second reason is that he gets his elbow above his shoulder for a split second –- his arm is fast enough you have to freeze the video from the third base in order to see this -- before it swoops down to create the fastball power and life.
The final factor that Pestano has is the kind of aggressiveness and chip-on-his-shoulder mentality I wish I saw more in bullpen arms. He was a college closer and a closer in the minor leagues, and maybe he’ll get that shot down the road in the big leagues.
-- John Klima
John Klima is a product of the Major League Baseball Scout Development Program and the founder of BaseballBeginnings.com. Catch his scouting take every Monday at latimes.com.
Photo: Vinnie Pestano. Credit: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport / US Presswire