Saturday night in Kingsport, I saw RHP Michael Hebert's best professional start.? He gave up two unearned runs in eight innings while striking out seven, but more importantly, showed stuff that will play at higher levels.
Hebert, who will turn 20 on Wednesday, worked with a four-seam fastball that sat 91-92 mph and touched 94.?? He held his velocity all night: his 95th and final pitch was one of his hardest at 94 mph.? Hebert explained after the game that the little extra juice on his heater came from excitement about accomplishing something he'd never done before, "that was the first time I threw eight innings in my life.? That was kinda a fun experience... I was really pumped up," he said.? He used it to both sides of the plate, as you can see in the video below.? As a professional, Hebert, the Mets' seventh round pick out of Saugus HS in 2008 said he focused on fastball command before really turning his attention to his curveball this year.
Hebert's second pitch was a curveball at 75-76 mph that flashed the potential to be an average big league offering.? He admitted that his hook is "still a work in progress," exactly as one might expect for a 19-year-old who's thrown under 100 innings as a professional.? The curve has become priority number one for him recently, "It's all I've been working on pretty much, sitting in the apartment, trying to work the grips," he said.? His pitching coach Jonathan Hurst agreed completely, "The curveball has been a project - it's been a lot of work."