I was going to write about a few prospects who got the call-up recently but after watching Max Scherzer destroy the Astros, I had to write about him.
For those who are not familiar with his repertoire, Scherzer exhibits a nasty, heavy fastball that sits at 93-96 and touches 98 (Edit: The TV gun was slow and I revised this thanks to new information). His fastball is reminiscent of Kevin Brown in his prime; the ball simply explodes through the zone, forcing weak contact and getting lots of swings and misses. He was working up and down in the zone, getting 94 MPH fastballs at the knees for strikes early and then elevating later in the count (increasing the velocity as well). He also shows an average change-up from 84-88 and a show-me slider.
The major knocks on Scherzer are that really only has one plus pitch (his fastball) along with a strange head-whack he has toward the end of his delivery. The head-whack is a bit overstated, in my opinion. He jerks his head down and toward first base just before he releases the ball. This may put more strain on his shoulder long-term since it's moving his body farther away from the ball's release point but it doesn't seem to effect his control at all. He keeps his head facing toward the plate, unlike someone like Okajima, and can command both sides of the plate.
Edit: I looked through the tape again and found that his command wavered at times but improved near the end of his outing. He got quite a few players to swing at balls, which shows how much movement his fastball has. However, he doesn't need to have pinpoint command. If he can keep his walks down, then I think he'll be fine.
As for his line: 4.1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 7 K. Not bad, right? This wasn't luck, either. He looked incredibly dominant. When he matched up against Lance Berkman, he got ahead with a fastball, a hard foul ball with a change-up, then blew Berkman away with two more fastballs (first one fouled off, the second one up and away). Berkman looked off-balance and was late on most of the fastballs. Now, Berkman is an outstanding fastball hitter. This wasn't luck. This was dominance.
I'm not sure if Scherzer can sustain this level of performance unless he can refine his offspeed pitches more. His repertoire might be better suited for a relief role as a dominant closer. I do want to see them give him a chance as a starter. He maintained his velocity through the four innings and he showed no control problems in the minors.
The skinny: This kid is the real deal. He could be this year's Joba (for you fantasy guys) and possibly even more. If you get a chance, watch a game and see how his fastball dominates big-league hitters. It might make you giggle (I definitely did) and it will certainly provide more evidence that the Diamondbacks are going to be a quality team for years to come.