Rarely have I heard one player compared to another as often as I hear Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Daniel Corcino compared with his teammate, Johnny Cueto. I'm sure the Reds hope the comparisons become true.
There are many similarities. Both are from the Dominican Republic. Both are 5-foot-11 and are right-handed starting pitchers. At age 23, Corcino is four years younger than Cueto. He is also 10 pounds lighter, at 205 pounds. They both throw hard.
Corcino, No. 7 on the Reds' Top 20 Prospects list, is in the developmental stages of his career. Cueto is a proven Major League veteran.
Corcino began his career in 2008 as a 17-year-old pitching in the Dominican Summer League. He threw 34 bullpen innings in 23 games. Corcino had a lofty 5.29 ERA and a WHIP of 1.50, pitching to a 6-2 record.
Corcino remained in the bullpen, learning the critical components of pitching, until he was converted to a starter in 2010. Combined at Rookie League Billings and Class A Dayton, he started 15 games and threw 71 innings, yielding fewer hits (69) than innings pitched.
Improvement came in Corcino's age-20 season, in 2011, when he lowered his ERA to 3.42 in 139 1/3 innings covering 26 starts at Class A Dayton. I first saw him at the Reds' 2012 Spring Training camp in Goodyear, Ariz. The buzz at the back fields was about Corcino. Club personnel were raving about -- you guessed it -- "the next Johnny Cueto."
Corcino relies heavily upon a 91-94-mph fastball with late life. I have seen him increase the velocity to the higher 90s. But there is effort involved in Corcino's delivery -- lots of effort.
Because he isn't tall and can't pitch downhill like a pitcher with long arms and legs, the stocky Corcino rotates his hips and lower body and almost twists himself around as he delivers the pitch. He throws across his body. Corcino's landing spot is probably the most inconsistent part of his delivery. In fact, I saw him land toward first base, toward third base and straight ahead to home plate.
However, I don't think Corcino's aggressive mechanics are a compromising issue. If there is any concern, it is his inconsistent command and control. Corcino has to throw strikes to be effective. But at times, I saw him try to ratchet up the velocity to a point that it cost him control. I am confident that will smooth with time.
In addition to his bread-and-butter fastballs, Corcino also has an above-average slider, which I think may be an even better pitch than his fastball. The pitch breaks late, almost like a cutter. It's extremely effective against right-handed hitters.
Corcino's third pitch is a changeup that fades and sinks, changing the eye level and the balance of the hitter. It's a good pitch that finishes hitters, but it isn't one that he uses in each sequence.
This past season at Triple-A Louisville, Corcino regressed in most pitching statistics. He pitched in 28 games, starting 23 of them. In 129 innings, Corcino gave up 141 hits and threw to a WHIP of 1.659. He had a whopping 5.86 ERA, as his command and control were elusive.
Looking at the projectable capabilities of Corcino, he has the makeup and the repertoire to succeed.
A combination of the left-handed Tony Cingrani and the right-handed Corcino could one day form a solid one-two punch in the Reds' rotation. For now, however, Corcino's job is to command his pitches and prove he is a capable Major League pitcher.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter.