2011 Dodgers Player Profile: Scott Elbert, Still Lefthanded, Still Wild

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 04: The shadow of pitcher Scott Elbert #57 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he throws warm ups before the spring training game against the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch on March 4, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. Like the Photo, Scott is just a shadow of his former self when you think of the dominant 20 year old in AA in 2006. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Scott Elbert entered spring of 2010 with an outside chance for the 5th spot in the rotation but he quickly killed those chances before spring training was even two weeks old by being wilder then usual and was reassigned to minor league camp before March Madness had even begun.  Scott joined the Isotope rotation and did well enough the Dodgers called him up in late May to fill a void in the bullpen. On May 29th Elbert got his chance and once again failed to capitalize, walking three men in 2/3 of an inning. It would be the last professional game Elbert would pitch in 2010 as he left the team for personal reasons after being sent back down to the Isotopes.

Not many players have quit on a team and come back to have a successful career but Elbert gave it his best shot by going to the AFL and showing off his stuff for Donny. For the first time I can remember, Elbert had control, walking ZERO batter in his last eight appearances. HIs total line in those last eight appearances, 9 2/3 innings, 14 K's, zero walks, seven hits. He was only scored on one time in those eight appearances.

Entering Spring Training in 2011, Elbert seemed to once again have an outside chance to make the team, but this time as a member of the bullpen. Whatever good will he might have garnered in the AFL might have already been squandered with his two dismal showings so far this spring. We'd all like to retire the W.A.L designation for Elbert but he doesn't seem able to earn that right.  In two appearances he's already walked six while only recording four outs. 

Scott Elbert, the lefty reliever struggling with his control in games, was held back from a scheduled Sunday appearance and instead will throw batting practice Monday while working on a mechanical adjustment.

Brandon has everything you want to know about Elbert in his 11 - 19 countdown:

11.  Scott Elbert, LHP (43.1 IP in AAA in 2010)

Drafted by Dodgers 2004, 1st round

6’1", 215 lbs, 25.5 years old

1-1, 4.98 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 4.82 FIP, 9.35 K/9

Pre 2010 Rank: 6;     Pre 2009 Rank: 4

 

Scott Elbert was the Dodgers first round pick back in 2004, and it seems like he’s been around forever.  He’s been ranked as a top 10 Dodger prospect basically since he was drafted, and made Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list from 2006 to 2008, peaking at #31 in 2007.  However, 2010 was season to forget for Elbert as he left the organization for personal reasons in June, and didn’t return until after the season.  He was back in time for the Arizona Fall League, however, and at the start of the AFL Elbert told Tony Jackson "It was just some personal issues I had to attend to.  I can tell you right now, it had nothing to do with baseball. It was just a lot of personal stuff I had to take care of, and that's about it."  Although he had been a starter for pretty much his entire minor league career, in the AFL the Dodgers told Elbert to concentrate on his new role, which would be out of the bullpen.  Elbert took the news in stride, and said "To be honest, I would like to be a reliever. If that is going to be my job, then that is what I will prepare for. ... I don't ever think [starting] is out of the question, but I have always been known as a high pitch-count guy, and if I'm able to bring that down and go deeper into games, maybe I can be a starter again. Nothing is ever out of the question in this game."  With the Desert Dogs in the Fall league Scott posted very good stats, striking out 15 batters in 11.2 innings and allowing a .195 batting average against.  His stuff was also described as "nasty" by several AFL scouts, which is definitely encouraging news.  His fastball is still in the mid 90’s, and his slider and a solid strikeout pitch and ranks as the best in the Dodgers organization.  He also throws a good changeup, although he doesn’t use it much out of the bullpen.  Don Mattingly got a chance to watch Elbert in the AFL, and said "He was tremendous for me. His stuff plays. I've talked to him. He's been up and down, up and down. He's got a power arm and can get lefties or righties out. He seems durable. He's not afraid. I like him."  With the Dodgers lack of left handed bullpen arms, Elbert still has a shot to make the Dodgers 2011 opening day roster if he has a good showing in spring training.  If he doesn’t make the club, he’ll continue to work in the Isotopes’ bullpen and will almost certainly get called up to the Dodgers at some point in 2011 as long as he stays healthy.

 

My own take is that I had hoped Scott Elbert could become something akin to Billy Wagner. They had quite a few things in common:

  • Bother were/are hard throwing left handers in the minor leagues,  Wagner could bring it in the mid to upper 90's along with a slider in the mid to high 80's. Fangraphs only goes back to 2002 so not sure exactly how hard Wagner was throwing at age 24. Elbert does not throw as hard, low 90's but keep in mind Elbert has only pitched 25 relief innings, good bet he bumps that fastball up when he learns how to become a relief pitcher full time. Also only uses the Fastball / Slider.
  • Wagner never made one start in the major leagues after making73 starts in the minor leagues out of 83 appearances. Elbert has made 93 starts out of 122 appearances. Elbert was used exclusively in relief in 2008 after coming back from arm surgery but went back to starting in 2009 / 2010. Good bet that Elbert will also never make a major league start.
  • Wild in the minors, Wagner had a 4.7 career minor league BB/9 rate, Elbert a 5.0
  • Dominance in the minors, Wagner had a 10.9 career minor league K/9 Rate, Elbert a 10.4
  • Wagner didn't make it for good until age 24, Elbert is now 25
  • Wagner First Round pick in 1993, Elbert first round pick 2004

Anyway that view keeps getting further and further in my rear view mirror so I should probably put it to bed.

Contract Status

Elbert has 100 days of MLB service time, and has one option year remaining.

Stats

Year Age IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP x-FIP tERA ERA+
2009 (AA)
23 62.1 4.33 12.56 3.90 3.14
2009 (AAA)
23 33.2 3.74 10.16 3.74 3.14
2009 (MLB)
23 19.2 3.20 9.67 5.03 4.67 3.49 4.34
2010 (AAA)
24 43.1 7.06 9.35 4.98 4.82
2010 (MLB)
24 0.2 40.50 0.00 13.50 16.58 20.67 17.82
2011 Projections - Age 25 Season



Year
IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP


Marcel
27.0 3.67 8.00 4.33 4.08


ZiPS
68.1 5.80 9.09 4.35


2011 Outlook

Hopefully a spot in the bullpen sometime in 2011.

What are your guesses for Elbert in 2011? Be sure to guess ERA, number of innings, and anything else you wish to predict.

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