Watching Scott Elbert

ZEBULON, N.C.—It’s been a tough 14 months for Scott Elbert.

The Dodgers lefthander made only three starts last year before being shut down in April with a shoulder injury. Two months later, Elbert had surgery to remove scar tissue from the labrum in his right shoulder, causing him to miss the rest of the 2007 season.

Elbert, a 2004 first-round pick, finally made his return to the mound for Double-A Jacksonville on June 4, pitching an inning out of the bullpen against Mobile. On Saturday, Elbert made his second appearance, pitching 1 2/3 innings at Carolina. Elbert entered the game with the Suns trailing 5-3 in bottom of the sixth with one out, the bases loaded and Cameron Maybin at the plate. Maybin locked in with Elbert in an eight-pitch battle, which ended when Maybin blasted a fastball off the right field wall for a double, scoring two runs. It would have been a triple had the bases been empty, and it also would have been worse for Elbert had left fielder John Raynor not made a baserunning mistake by overrunning third base and getting thrown out. Elbert wasn’t charged with any earned runs, allowed two hits, no walks and struck out two.

Fastball 26 87-92
Curveball 2 80-81
Changeup 2 80-82
Slider 1 81

Elbert’s fastball normally ranged from 87-91 mph, touching 92 once but mainly sitting at 88-90 mph. Of course it was only his second appearance since returning from labrum surgery, but his velocity was down from the low-90s pitch that has touched 96 mph when healthy. Elbert worked primarily off his fastball, throwing 26 in 31 pitches. Elbert wasn’t afraid to come inside with his fastball–sometimes way inside–but without his pre-surgery velocity some of the effectiveness of that strategy diminished.

Elbert’s best pitch was his curveball, and though he threw just two it was a power breaker that came in at 80-81 mph.

Elbert, 23, also flashed two changeups at 80-82 mph and a slider that he threw at 81. The changeup had some fade, though neither of his changeups went for strikes. In all, Elbert threw 21 of his 31 pitches for strikes.

Last year, Elbert had a 24-10 K-BB mark and a 3.86 ERA for Jacksonville and ranked as the No. 88 prospect in baseball entering the season. In 2006, Elbert had a 97-41 K-BB mark and a 2.37 ERA in 83 2/3 innings for high Class A Vero Beach, then had a 76-44 K-BB ratio and a 3.61 ERA 62 1/3 innings upon a midseason promotion to Jacksonville. He ranked as the No. 31 prospect in the game after his 2006 campaign.