Suddenly, everyone’s talking about Roenis Elias.
And that’s a good thing, because he’s a good pitcher and a better story (sneaking out of Cuba on a raft despite marginal prospects of a baseball career — he’s not a sought-after Cuban bonus guy).
In January, someone said Roenis Elias — as you can see here — and so it is.
Of course, with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker starting the year on the disabled list, then you only need to toss Maurer, Beavan and Noesi into the discard pile to get to Elias’ number, and suddenly it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
But there is a cautionary tale here. A year ago, alone among the three-headed authorship at the time of SeattleSportsInsider.com, I dissented from the view that Maurer was ready to make the leap from AA to MLB. Despite his admitted good stuff, he hadn’t shown the ability to dominate with it at lower levels.
The same is true of Elias — except even more so.
That being said … it sounds as if a plateau-leap is in the offing for Elias, and that he may be in a position to consolidate his progress. Reports, including this very good one from Lookout Landing, are that Elias has simplified his approach (no longer “coming from five different arm angles”) and may be in a position to make a genuine Great Leap Forward.
That is indeed Very Good News.
But let’s not mistake flashing good stuff in Spring Training for a record of successfully implementing it.
I admit I’m biased in favor of seeing results in the minors before pushing guys into MLB roles — but I have done the research. It is just plain rare for a guy to succeed in the majors without a strong record of success in the minors. Period.
Maurer may have had the stuff to be a successful MLB pitcher despite relatively non-dominant results in AA, but it turned out that sticking him right under the bright lights wasn’t the way to find out. And now he’s taken such a step backward that no one is even penciling him in for one of the up-for-grabs vacancies.
On the other hand, Elias does have “Gitmo Guile” (as I called it last year), and may be different, but I’m still skeptical of expecting a guy to make a big leap in levels and dominance at the same time.
Elias was above-average but not overpowering at AA Jackson. If he’s able to harness his weapons and take his stuff to the next level, that would be a very welcome development.
But I don’t think pushing him into the MLB rotation is going to be the best way to make it happen.
Verdict on putting him in the MLB rotation now: Not2Legit