With the Minor League season finally opening up today, we march on to the next prospect in our Top 20:
18. Dan Cortes
Position: RHP | Hits: R Throws: R
DOB: 3/4/1987 | HT: 6’5″ WT: 205 LB
Notes: Cortes is the latest version of a classic tale: a well-thought-of pitcher with a huge arm and interesting stuff who just needs to figure out how to get his fastball in the strikezone… but who never really does. He was still in this stage when the Mariners acquired him in the Yunieski Betancourt trade in 2009, and ultimately was forced to move from the starting rotation to the bullpen because of it. Fortunately for Cortes, his stuff makes him a potentially top-shelf reliever even with his command issues.
Cortes is first and foremost a power pitcher. With a fastball that regularly visits the upper 90’s on the radar gun, he also has the ability to reach triple digits with some regularity when the situation calls for it. He pairs that with a curve that sits in the low 80’s with a late but powerful break to it, and occasionally uses a slider in the mid-to-upper 80’s that’s a less effective breaking pitch, but at least can give him a slightly different look from time to time.
Cortes’ command is a major issue, however. He goes through long stretches where the strike zone almost seems to be a foreign concept to him, which can easily get pitchers in trouble, even working of of the bullpen. When he starts missing with his fastball, it starts to elevate, and since it flies almost arrow-straight, that can leave it very, very hittable.
Still, there’s a lot of reason to hope Cortes can figure it out. As a 24-year old reliever with his arm, there’s also no reason to give up on him any time soon. If he can get his command issues even somewhat sorted out, he could become a real weapon in the back end of the bullpen.
2011 Outlook: Starting the year in Tacoma, presumably as the closer. Will likely be the first relief arm up when the team is in need.
Major League ETA: 2011