Left-hander Dillon Overton arrived in the major leagues this past weekend, starting Saturday for the Oakland Athletics against the Los Angeles Angels. He got the victory, throwing 5.2 innings with seven hits, two walks, and three runs allowed, while fanning three. Let's take a look at what he offers.
Basic background from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book
Dillon Overton, LHP, Oakland Athletics
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-2 WT: 175 DOB: August 17, 1991
2014: Grade C+; 2015: Grade C+
A second round pick in 2013 from the University of Oklahoma, Overton needed Tommy John surgery after signing. He’s made a full recovery in most respects: he threw 126 innings without trouble last year, and has retained strong command of his fastball, curveball, and change-up. Few pitchers can match his instincts. Alas, his fastball hasn’t quite returned to old standards. He could hit 93-95 before the injury, worked at 85-90 during rehab in 2014, and was generally at 88-91 last year. That was still enough for him to succeed against minor league hitters but it reduces his margin of error and makes him more of a potential number four or five starter than a number three as he previously projected. Grade C+.
In 2015 Overton posted a 3.43 ERA in 126 innings between High-A and Double-A with a combined 106/27 K/BB. 2016 has been similar: 3.01 ERA in 13 starts and one relief outing for Triple-A Nashville, 72/22 K/BB in 84 innings.
The scouting reports haven't changed from pre-season. Overton has not regained his pre-injury velocity, working his fastball now at 86-90 MPH, averaging about 88. At this point it seems unlikely that he'll get all of his pre-Tommy John zip back. He still has his assortment of secondary pitches headlined by a breaking ball and change-up that both earn 55 grades from observers. He can hit all the velocity slots between 70 and 90 MPH and does a good job keeping hitters off-stride thanks to exceptional feel for his craft. Scouts have praised his makeup and mound presence since he was a freshman at Oklahoma.
Pre-injury Overton looked like a number three starter, sometimes more. Post-surgery he looks more like a number four or five, needing fine location to survive given his marginal fastball. He's had that location in the minors. Assuming he is given a chance to adapt and adjust, Overton should not be under-estimated.