Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prospect Countdown: #2 Yordano Ventura

2. Yordano Ventura Right Handed Pitcher

Age: 22
Position: RHP
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 180
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as non-drafted FA in 2008       From: Samana, Dominican Republic

2013 Rank: 3

2012 Rank: 10

2011 Rank: 17

Landon Adams (3): Last season I had the opportunity to watch Yordano Ventura pitch first hand on several occasions. Each time he pitched, he was more impressive than the start before. With three above average pitches, Ventura definitely has the stuff to enable him to be a front end of the rotation starter. At this point it is more a question of how long he will hold up given his stature. 

Ventura, who threw 155 innings over 28 starts in 2013, has already made comments about expecting to throw 200 innings in 2014. Given that he averaged approximately 5.5 innings per start in 2013, this would mean that not only would he need to make 33 starts this season, but that he would also need to go on average about 6 innings per outing. This fails to account for the potential of postseason games, so in my opinion it would be wise of the Royals to not push Ventura to get deep into games. 

With James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas and an excellent bullpen, the focus shouldn't be on Ventura reaching his 20% share of the 1000 starter inning goal, instead the focus should be on keeping him fresh and producing quality innings throughout the entire season. If for instance Ventura simply averages 5.5 innings per start again this season, that would put him at 182 innings over 33 starts. This is a number that I'd be far more comfortable with than 200. 

You've heard enough from me on Ventura, but I want to leave you with this comment on the righty from Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus:
"In two brief innings of work, he sat 98-100 and touched 101 on at least one gun. That’s good, right? Snapped a few good breaking balls that looked like future 7 pitches when he released out front; lost a few that he seemed to cast from a deeper release; flashed a few changeups with late action. He’s going to be a monster if he can stay healthy and log innings/experience. I’m a huge believer." —Jason Parks (Article here.)

Paden Bennett (1): It's hard to consider Yordano Ventura a prospect anymore after he earned a rotation spot this spring with a dominant performance.  Ventura pitched 20.1 innings this spring while only giving up 4 earned runs, good for a 1.77 ERA.  Ventura also showed great control with 18 K's to just 4 BB's.  

Ventura features an unbelievable heater than can reach 101-102, a good curveball that froze hitters this spring and an improving changeup.  Small in stature with an extremely live arm, Ventura has drawn some comparisons to a young Pedro Martinez.  Out of all the games I go to this season in Kansas City, most of the games I will try and target when Yordano Ventura is pitching.  This kid is fun to watch, and you don't see live arms like this come around very often especially as a starting pitcher.  

I look for Yordano to take off running, and impress a bunch of people early.  Then I expect him to have a rough patch just like most young pitchers do and rebound from that and adjust.  Royals fans need to be ready to watch Yordano Ventura "throw fire" this season!

Joe Cox (4):  Yordano Ventura is easily the prospect most likely to make an impact at the Major League level in 2014.  We know the story on Ventura, the 22 year old righty who can light up the radar despite his small stature.  In his 3 starts in the Majors Last year his fastball averaged 97.5 MPH, which would easily be the best in the league over the course of a season.  Last season he averaged less than one home run every two starts between AA and AAA; while also easily striking out more than a batter per inning.  

The big question mark on Ventura is control, as his walks went from a mediocre 3.12 BB/9 in AA to a more troubling 3.86 BB/9 in AAA.  His elite velocity coupled with solid 2013 results is what has so many Royals fans so interested in what he can provide this year. ZiPS projection system has Ventura pitching 137 innings with a 4.20 ERA, which I think is a realistic expectation fans would be happy with.  The system was fairly conservative on walks and strike outs so there is room for Ventura to improve on those projections.

Over the course of his prospect career, the big question on Ventura has been whether he projects as a starter or reliever, but it appears Ventura has an opportunity to lock up the fifth spot in the rotation for the Royals.  If he doesn’t win that spot, Ventura will start the year in the Major League bullpen or as a starter in waiting in AAA.  Either way, I would project that Ventura ends the year in the Royals Rotation regardless of where he starts the year.  I do not expect Ventura to immediately become the Ace of the staff, but should be a positive piece to the rotation.

Dan Ware (2):  In the midst of a playoff birth quest, sitting just 2.5 games back in the Wild Card, Danny Duffy still wasn't 100%, suffering from inflammation in his pitching elbow.  The Royals decided to go the precautionary route and sit Duffy for a second straight start.  Yordano "Ace" Ventura, who was supposed to start for Omaha in the Triple-A championship game against the Durham Bulls, got the call to The K to make his MLB debut against the Cleveland Indians. 

The game was nothing short of an exciting one, as the 22 year old, in the first 5 innings gave up no runs and just 2 hits, while at one point throwing the fastest pitch of any Major League pitcher in 2013 (103 mph).  In the 6th, he gave up 3 hits, 1 resulting in a run.  With 2 outs recorded, Yost went to the pen.  The K arose for a standing ovation and the rookie tipped his cap.  Ventura made 2 more starts last season, going 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 15.1 innings, collecting 11 strikeouts and 6 walks.  Before his promotion, he threw 134.2 innings in the minors, 57.2 for NW Arkansas and 77 for Omaha.

2014 was up in the air for Ventura, until his 5th start during the Spring, where Yordano dominated a Texas lineup that comprised all of their starters, throwing 6 innings, allowing only 4 hits while striking out 6 batters.  The next day, the Royals made a decision to add Ventura to the rotation, which was rightfully earned.  He will sit in the 3rd spot behind Opening Day starter James Shields and newcomer Jason Vargas.

We expect him to be one of our 12 pitchers when we break camp unless something unforeseen happens. - Dayton Moore, February 8th 2014

Read more here:

Read more here:
Dayton wasn't joking!

Nicholas Ian Allen (--): There is not much to add to the discussion at this point. Ventura has excelled this spring and seemingly put most minds at ease about his role in the big league rotation this season: fans, bloggers, media members and the brass are all pretty much in agreement. Expect him to be a big part of the club's success this season and he should be the early favorite for American League Rookie of the Year.

Oh one more thing: He reminds me a lot of Cardinals rookie Carlos Martinez. I really like Carlos Martinez.

Total Points: 114

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