Prospect of the Day: Scott Elbert
Scott Elbert, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers promoted lefty Scott Elbert to the majors this week to cover a bullpen spot for the injured Hong-Chih Kuo. It seems like Elbert has been around forever, yet he's still a rookie and still just 25 years old. What can we expect from him?
Elbert was drafted in the first round back in 2004, from high school in Seneca, Missouri. He emerged as one of the top lefties in the minors with strong seasons in '05 and '06, but a labrum injury cost him most of 2007. Command has been his biggest problem since then. Elbert can pump mid-90s fastballs and has a nasty slider. He retains a decent changeup from his days as a starter, but in relief the fastball/slider combo is sufficient for him to dominate, if he throws strikes.
Throwing strikes is the question. He walked 34 in 43 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque last year and nine more in 14 innings this year, though his strikeout rates are strong (45 last year, 16 this year) and reflect his plus stuff. His stuff is good enough for him to be a major league closer if the command is there, but mechanical inconsistency has prevented that from happening. He also left the organization for personal reasons after being demoted to the minors last year. While he returned last fall and impressed in the Arizona Fall League, the incident left many scratching their heads. Still, lefties with his kind of heat are hard to find, and given his upside no one is giving up on him anytime soon.
Right now Elbert fits best as a middle-inning arm that could develop eventually into something more. He doesn't have a lot of short-term fantasy value, but Dodgers fans need to keep an eye on him. His upside is considerable, and he is still young enough to develop suddenly.