Winter Haven Update 3/18
Cevette Working His Way Back Onto Indians Radar
A little over two years ago, left-hander Dan Cevette was considered one of the top young hurlers in the Indians farm system. In fact, some believe he still is. But these days, Cevette is trying to work his way back from injury and into the big picture he seemed so clearly in just a few short years ago.
Cevette was drafted by the Indians in the third round of the 2002 Draft out of high school (PA). After a few good showings in Burlington and Mahoning Valley in 2002 and 2003, Cevette burst onto the scene in 2004 when in 16 combined starts for Mahoning Valley and Lake County he compiled a 5-0 record with an amazing 1.91 ERA over a total of 80 innings pitched and struck out 80 while walking only 20. He used the 2004 season as a springboard into 2005 where in 17 starts he went 5-4 with a 2.73 ERA and in 82.1 innings had 85 strikeouts and gave up 30 walks.
But, while Cevette had a very good year in 2005 at Lake County, things started to take a turn for the worse as he was sidelined early in the season for two months with a broken thumb after trying to field a groundball with his bare hand. He came back from that injury well, but the most devastating injury occurred at the end of the season where he suffered a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder and had to have surgery in the offseason to correct the issue.
Cevette rehabbed almost the entire 2006 season in extended spring training in Winter Haven, and made three starts late in the year at Lake County totaling five innings. He continued his rehab through the offseason and went into the 2007 season ready to get going again, but halfway through the season his shoulder flared up on him.
"I rehabbed all offseason and came into the 2007 season feeling good to go, and the Indians had me as a starter again," said Cevette in a late afternoon interview on Tuesday. "I was throwing a lot and the volume was still high, and at the middle of the season I just crashed again. They sent me up to Cleveland to have me looked at, and the doctor said I need to be a low volume guy (innings pitched) and be a reliever."
Reportedly, the bullpen is exactly where Cevette will now need to learn to earn his keep, although the Indians still feel there is a possibility of him returning to a starting role because of his solid three pitch mix of a fastball that consistently sits around 88-91 MPH and tops out at 92, a very good changeup, and a slider that is still a work in progress.
Working out of the bullpen, it is not known if there will be any restrictions with Cevette's pitch count or how often he makes an appearance, but in any case he is excited with how he feels.
"I am not sure how they are going to do it," said Cevette. "I am just excited with how I feel, and excited about this season. My expectations are through the roof."
Cevette has every right to be excited about his potential this season as he feels he is at least back to or better than he was before his injury two years ago. He is a pitcher where his fastball is deceptive and can get in on hitters quickly because of his real easy and loose delivery. He also has a quirk in his delivery where he cocks the ball behind his head, which can make it hard for opposing hitters to pick up the ball.
"I think the Indians have been great with me as they have been patient and let me work things out," said Cevette. "Right now I feel I could compete at any level, and I don't care where you put me, I know I can go out there and get guys out. But, I would say I am back and stuff-wise as good and better as I ever was. I am definitely a more intelligent pitcher now."
The confidence is brimming with Cevette, but along the road to recovery it has been rough where he has experienced several ups and downs.
"I'll tell you, being hurt since the end of 2005 has been tough," said Cevette. "It is like a roller coaster with a lot of peaks and valleys, and you are thinking you are good then you are feeling terrible. You really sit back and have a lot of time to analyze and think about things and what you really want to do. I sat back and just decided that I am going to go 150% at this until I know I can't pitch, and until I can't compete at a good level I want to do this. I have never gone out there and felt over-matched, even when I was hurt. I think that is the key, to stay confident. No matter what people are saying, like when they say "you are off the radar" or whatever. You have to stay confident not to let that stuff bother you or it can spiral down from there."
Right now, it looks like Cevette is pegged for a bullpen role at either Akron or Kinston. Heck, who knows, he could even be one of those guys on the bubble as a candidate to be released. But, the way things look, Cevette should stick around in the Indians organization awhile longer.
That said, after this season Cevette will be a six year minor league free agent and will be able to sign with any team he chooses. As a result, if the Indians keep him it is probably in their best interest to have him get considerable time in Akron this year so they can properly see what they have in Cevette before they run the risk of losing him after the season.
Wherever Cevette lands in 2008, he knows what his strengths and weaknesses are and what he has to do to improve. One of his best attributes is his confidence and how he goes right after hitters. He is not afraid to pitch inside, and his nasty changeup can make hitters look foolish at times.
"I think I can throw pretty good inside and then my changeup away is definitely my out pitch," said Cevette. "It moves a lot. One of the guys who was hitting against me this year said the changeup never does the same thing. Sometimes it goes away, sometimes it goes down, sometimes it stays straight. It is a very deceptive pitch. Throwing in hard to righties, and then throwing something away soft can get