Thinking about Jhoulys Chacin
Chacin was signed by the Rockies in 2004 out of Venezuela. He didn't get to North American until '07, when he went 6-3, 3.13 with a 77/26 K/BB in 92 innings for Casper in the Pioneer League, allowing 85 hits. He also posted a 2.70 GO/AO ratio. Scouts were impressed with his 90-92 MPH fastball, curveball, and changeup, although the secondary pitches were erratic and needed to be sharpened. I had one of those good intuitive feelings about him when I wrote the 2008 book, and I gave him a big SLEEPER ALERT! header in his book comment, rating him as a Grade C+ pending higher level data, but a breakthrough candidate.
Said breakthrough is in progress Chacin went 10-1, 1.86 for Asheville this spring, with a 98/30 K/BB in 111 innings, just 82 hits and three homers allowed, and a 2.83 GO/AO. He was just promoted to Modesto in the Cal League and threw eight shutout innings in his first start, fanning eight with one walk and five hits given up. His velocity has picked up further, his breaking stuff is reportedly sharper this year, his changeup is outstanding, he's still getting tons of grounders, and his command has been solid.
Gradewise I am moving him up a full rating to Grade B+ and would definitely put him in my Top 50 Pitchers list, although I don't know exactly where yet. The combination of a fairly high strikeout rate, lots of grounders, and improving stuff stands out. He's also just 20 years old. About the only negative in his profile I can see is his size: he's a smallish guy at 6-1, 180. Personally I don't care about that, but some scouts worry it could limit his long-term projectability. In theory it is harder for a shorter pitcher to pitch down in the zone, but it's obviously not a problem for Chacin.
He has to get through the injury nexus, of course. Lots of bad things could happen. But Chacin taken a huge step forward this year, and has to be rated among the best right-handed pitching prospects in the game now.
They don't get a lot of attention for it, but the Rockies seem to have a knack for finding power arms in Latin America.