#50: Michael Hebert Scouting Report

Hebert took important steps in 2010

For many young pitchers, returning to rookie ball gives them the opportunity to improve without the rigors and added challenge of the long-season leagues. Such was the case for Kingsport pitcher Michael Hebert who spent his third season at the short-season level. What progress did he make? Check out the scouting report to find out.

Vital Statistics
Name: Michael Hebert
DOB: August 11, 1990
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 180
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Status: 7th Round (2008) – Saugus HS (CA)

Inside Pitch: This was your third year in the organization, your third year in rookie ball, what do you feel was different for you? You mentioned building blocks. What were some of those building blocks?

Hebert: I had to put in the entire year. I didn't have any roadblocks like I did last year. It was a different feel playing at night in front of a crowd for however many fans were there. It was a lot different that the Gulf Coast League where it's all day games and you're not playing in front of anyone. I think that just gave me a different perspective on the game just from day-to-day preparation. I got a lot of good coaching and that helped all make it a good year.

Inside Pitch: Is there any part of your game you feel noticeably improved over this season from extending spring training through the Instructional League?

Hebert: I feel like my fastball command got a lot better this year. I'm able to locate it a lot more on the outside corner now. My curveball came along and my changeup is coming along. That's three pitches which is obviously important. Hopefully by next year, those three pitches will be pretty darn good and allow me to have a big year.

Inside Pitch: Aside from your repertoire, what do you think it took this year to really feel like you're making progress as a pitcher. Maybe it's the finer points of pitching, maybe it's your approach but how do you measure yourself progressing?

Hebert: I think just getting older and learning that I can't blow the ball by anybody was important. I really don't throw hard enough to pitch like that. I think I took until this year for that to sink in. I really have to start locating my pitches and keep the ball down. I really have to start locating my pitches and keep the ball down. That was the biggest thing for me—keeping the ball down and not giving up the big hits.

Inside Pitch: Going back to extended spring training, what do you think were some of the positives then that helped you set up for your summer?

Hebert: I worked with Jonathan Hurst in extended and he was my pitching coach in Kingsport, so it was like playing as a team the whole time. I developed a good relationship with him. The whole time he hammered on keeping the ball down which I think showed during my starts.

Inside Pitch: At the end of the year, you got the opportunity to pitch a week in Savannah. What did that opportunity mean to you even though it was for such a short period of time? Did it help you go into Instructs and the offseason feeling more positive?

Hebert: I was still working on some things and I was a bit nervous going up there because I felt like mechanically things were off when I got there. I didn't know what the competition would be like, so I just wanted to keep the ball down. I feel like I did alright. I gave up one run in six innings or something like that. It was at the end when Savannah was in the playoffs. I didn't get to pitch but it was cool being in that atmosphere. It definitely got me excited for next year. If I'm in Savannah next year hopefully I'll get to be a part of something like that again.

Inside Pitch: What were your thoughts on your time in the Instructional League?

Hebert: Marc Valdes, the Savannah pitching coach, was down there so getting to work with him again was a great opportunity. He's a great coach. It was a bit of a different feel with (Brooklyn pitching coach Rick) Tomlin running the pitchers. It started off quite a struggle for me because I had some command issues, but towards the end I felt like I was really coming along. I was kind of bummed it ended, but it was a good stepping stone for next year.

I talked to some of the guys and they all said that I need to stop thinking so much. They said I can't always think about my mechanics or every pitch. I need to just go out there and let my talent do the work and go after guys.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2010

Savannah

0-0

1

6.1

3

2

4

1.42

2010

Kingsport

3-7

0

56.1

64

29

53

4.47

2009

GCL

1-3

1

31.1

28

14

23

3.73

2008

GCL

2-2

0

21.0

11

29

19

4.71




Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup

Fastball: Hebert does not try and get creative with his fastball. He goes right after hitters with a four-seam fastball that is steady at 90-92 MPH though can gain a few ticks on the gun when he really reaches back for it. The pivotal element to his fastball has been sustained velocity. Added weight and strength on what was previously a very thin frame not only stabilized his good velocity but helped him maintain velocity deeper into innings. His command can still be spotty at times which speaks to his youth and limited game action during his first two seasons.

Other Pitches: Hebert acknowledged the curveball is still rather new to him. Hebert was almost exclusively a fastball pitcher during his first two seasons. In 2010, he made strides with his 74-77 MPH curveball. His curveball demonstrated good though inconsistent overhand tilt. It generates swings and misses when tightly spun. Otherwise, his curveball can hang in the zone and become hittable. His mid-80s changeup is still very much a work in progress. Hebert only began to focus on it this season and did not have much of a need to throw it in rookie while primarily focusing on his curveball. Grips, arm speed, tempo are all feels Hebert is still working on with his changeup.

Pitching: Hebert is not a power pitcher and will continue to develop as such. He works the strike zone with his two best pitches and tries to retire hitters as quickly as possible. He has a repeatable, high three-quarters to almost true overhand delivery and gets good extension to keep the ball down in the zone. He does not have the power be a high strikeout pitcher, thus working the bottom third of the strike zone is imperative to his success. Like most young pitchers, he at times struggles with overall command which ups his walks and exasperates bad innings. Command and keeping the ball down are key.

Projection: Three years in rookie ball is never a good sign for a young pitcher, but Hebert will spend most of the 2011 still just 20 years old which helps. If Hebert, who projects to stay in the rotation next season, can take big strides with the consistency of his curveball and at least show an effective changeup, the odds are in his favor of staying in the rotation. If not, and he struggles with repeating his breaking ball, Hebert will likely shift to the bullpen. 2011 and certainly 2012 will go a long way to determining his ultimate role.

ETA 2014. Hebert ended his 2010 in Savannah and that is likely where he begins next season. At this point, there is not enough depth to Hebert's game that he should be rushed through the system. Spending the entire season in Savannah will allow him to build up his repertoire with the chance of jumping levels in coming seasons. At 20 years old and without a plus pitch, three more years on the farm is a fair estimate.

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