Scouting Yankees Prospect #40: Chaz Hebert

Hebert really developed his secondary pitches

The New York Yankees selected left-handed pitcher Chaz Hebert in the 27th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Breaux Bridge High School in Louisiana. He statistically had a tremendous professional debut season in 2012 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees and an even better year behind the scenes refining his overall game.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Chaz Hebert
Position: Pitcher
DOB: September 4, 1992
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 180
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"The year went really well, I was very pleased with how the year went," he said. "I started out in Spring Training and I was doing pretty good and throwing my hardest in Spring Training, and then I wound up going out with a little elbow tendonitis.

"I was out for a while with that but I came back strong and I finished off the year really good, better than I expected."

The numbers were fantastic -- a 2.52 ERA with just four walks in 25 innings and compiling 30 strikeouts along the way. While the numbers were very impressive, it was the tangible results with his overall game that has him very excited for the future.

"I improved my control, a lot of my mechanics, and especially my offspeed pitches," he said. "I came [into the year] with a fastball and somewhat of a changeup, and a very loopy curveball, but towards the end of the season my changeup was one of my best pitches and my curveball, especially at Instructs, [it got harder]."

The first big adjustment made was advancing his changeup from more of a show-me pitch to an actual out-pitch in one short season.

"The coaches, just working hard everyday in the pen and figuring out what I was doing wrong -- they were coaching me out there and they know what they are doing.

"I just got a better feel for it, a better downward angle, let it come out of my hand. I got a lot of practice on it. Everyday working on it I was able to come around on it.

"The arm speed is the same [as it was before]. It just didn't really do much. It had a weird spin on it [in the beginning] and now it has that four-seam fastball spin and right before it gets to home plate it dives.

"It just slows down dramatically and dives down. When I first got it down, I had no idea where it came from."

The much improved fade and sink with his changeup didn't affect his control over it either, but it wasn't the only big difference in his game. His curveball became a vastly improved pitch by season's end and into the offseason too.

"I'm really excited. The curveball I had before, you could see it," he admitted. "It was just a big loop. Now I was throwing [the new one] to these hitters at Instructs and they timed it up but at the last second it would just drop and they were swinging right through it.

"I can control it a lot better. I remember throwing it 0-2 for a called strike. I just have a much better feel for it. I just snap my hands -- I love it. It's so much better than the loopier one.

"It's hard now. They can time it up but at that last second it drops down. Everything looks the same now.

"My changeup looks the same as my four-seam [fastball], my curveball looks the same as my fastball, and I have my fastball. I think I'm going to be a much better pitcher going into next year and I'm really excited for it."

He still has a very projectable body too, one which could put on more useful muscle mass in the coming years, and that is an encouraging sign for a young pitcher whose entire game has come a very long way in a short period of time.

"I'd say I'm a lot different pitcher. Again, I had great coaching. Everyday we were working on something new. I'm just able to pick up the things very quickly.

"I went into Instructs [in 2011] not throwing that much slower but I didn't have the correct mechanics. I was falling all over everywhere and I looked at the videos this year and I'm just a different pitcher now. Just with the pitches, the mechanics, it's all good stuff now," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2012

GCL Yankees

2-1

1

25.0

23

4

30

2.52



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Hebert isn't a big velocity guy, sitting mostly in the 89-91 mph range, but what he lacks in plus velocity he makes up for with great control of his fastball. There were stretches where his velocity range got up to the 90-92 mph vicinity and, still rather slender, he has a lot of room to fill out his frame and that could lead to a further spike in velocity as he continues to mature. For now though he has great command of a big league average fastball that shows good natural tailing action.

Other Pitches. Both of Hebert's secondary pitches were below average pitches for the majority of the 2012 season. However, his changeup, a pitch he hardly threw during the course of the season, has quickly become an above average pitch lately after being able to get great fade and sink with it, and his arm speed now mirrors that of his fastball. He did throw a curveball during his debut season but it was a slower, loopier curveball that sat mostly in the high-60s. It was good enough to get rookie league hitters out but he made it a point to throw it harder and it became an above average, mid-to-high 70s power curveball at Instructs that he can still locate for strikes.

Pitching. Where Hebert excels is throwing strikes with all of his pitches, even when his pitches weren't getting the desired movement. He attacks batters with a tailing fastball inside to right-handers and away from left-handers, and now he has two above average secondary pitches that he can also locate for strikes. He's still relatively in the infancy stage of his professional career but he already shows a very high baseball acumen and extremely coachable nature. His biggest weakness right now, his strength, has the chance to be a real asset as he continues to fill out and mature.

Projection. There's a lot to like about Hebert's current game, including an average big league fastball and two above average secondary offerings, and all three pitches still have a lot of projection left in them. He also shows advanced pitch-ability and consistent strike-throwing prowess, and should his pitches begin to tick upwards even more then his game could really take off. In a lot of ways he mirrors the game of current Yankee southpaw Nik Turley. Hebert doesn't have his 6-foot-5 frame, but he too can also get stronger, throw harder, knows how to set up batters already, and has a ton of room to get better with his secondary pitches. And like Turley, Hebert projects best right now as a middle to back-end big league starting pitcher someday but could also have a tick higher ceiling if things break right in the ensuing years.

ETA. 2016. It is going to be awfully difficult to keep him out of Charleston to begin the 2013 season if he pitches in Spring Training like he had during Instructs. However, there are so many quality pitching candidates for the low-A level that the smarter money has him anchoring a rotation spot in short-season Staten Island.

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