It is Yordano Ventura Day at the K day. Tonight the 22-year-old, 180 pound, 5'11'' Dominican born right-handed pitcher will start against The Tribe ®. I saw Ventura pitch some back in spring training and all I remember was was a skinny kid who threw lighting bolts. From what I have read, not much has changed since then, but here a bit more information on him.
Let start out with with his pitches. Basically he has an amazing fastball and a respectable change and curve. One decent game of Pitchf/x data (inning 3 and 4 data) exists on Ventura. It was from a spring training game this year. His fastball averaged over 98 mph with his change at 85 mph and his curve at 83 mph.
Additionally, here are some expert comments on his pitches.
Along with his explosive heater, Ventura also features a potentially-plus curveball and a changeup. A contact I spoke with placed an 80 grade on the Dominican native's heater and a future 55-60 grades on his secondary pitches. - Marc Hulet at FanGraphs
While he can hit triple digits, he is far more of an effective pitcher when he backs off the velo a bit, and sits in the mid-90s as he was doing Monday night. His fastball has late life on it, that jumps on the hitter even at (relatively) lower velocities. His curveball has received positive reviews when he isn't overthrowing it, with BaseballAmerica saying it has plus potential, and Jason Parks saying it could be a plus pitch in time. He's been doing a better job of throwing it for strikes this year, not using it purely as a swing and miss offering, though I wasn't able to see much of it in his performance last night. I would like to stress that while this pitch has plus potential, it is by no means there right now. He is extremely inconsistent with both his curve and his change at the moment. His change up is his third best offering, behind even the curve, which should tell you all you need to know about where it is right now. What it has going for it is some late fade as well as an absurd different in velocity from his fastball. The change up registers in the high-70s/low-80s. - Criag Goldstein at Fake Teams
He works with a three pitch mix, including a fastball, curveball and change-up. His fastball is by far his best pitch, as it is in the mid-to-upper 90s and can reach 100 mph with frequency. His fastball has good late life to it, which makes it difficult for hitters to square it up. Ventura also has a hard curveball that he uses as his best secondary pitch. The curveball has great downward action that is very tough on right-handed hitters. He can throw both his fastball and his curveball for strikes. His change-up is his weakest pitch and he will need to improve it if he is going to reach his potential as a top starting pitcher. He has a tendency to leave the change-up high in the zone, leading to it being hit hard. - Anthony Cacchione at BaseballStooges
Time to take a look at the pitches at work. The first video is features Ventura's curve and in the second one he throws both his fastball and change.
Fastball and Chanage up
If you have the desire to watch a couple dozen videos on him go here.
One of the biggest complaints about him will be his slight frame.
Although he's shown improvements, his 109.1 innings in 2012 represents a career high, so he still has a lot to prove when it comes to answering questions about his durability. The talent evaluator I spoke with was not overly worried. "There are some concerns but his arm works really well and he pitched with less effort in his delivery this year than in the past, a great sign he will be able to be a starter," he said. "His arm is really fast and loose so he projects very well to carry innings." Marc Hulet
Ventura has the type of stuff to profile as a top of the rotation starter, but questions on his height, build, stamina, command and overall repertoire remain. -Craig Goldstein
Looks like I am done with the scouting portion, now down to the pop-tart eating, underwear wearing in my mom's basement portion, the stats.
Here his stats since 2010
All I have to say is nice. Actually damn nice. The one item to remember is still fairly young. I went and looked for comparable minor league pitchers. I looked for pitchers with similar K%, BB%, age and games started (didn't want relievers). Here are some comps from the last two seasons (Ventura's level and season are in the table).
|Feliz, Neftali||21||2009||Rangers (AAA)||25||13||77.1||8.7||23.2%||3.5||9.3%||1.28||0.315||3.49||2.88|
|Barnes, Scott Michael||23||2011||Indians (AAA)||16||15||88.0||9.2||24.2%||3.5||9.1%||1.30||0.292||3.68||4.19|
|Wheeler, Zachary Harrison||23||2013||Mets (AAA)||13||13||68.2||9.6||25.1%||3.5||9.3%||1.28||0.289||3.93||4.04|
|Skaggs, Tyler W.||21||2013||Diamondbacks (AAA)||19||17||104.0||9.3||23.0%||3.4||8.4%||1.47||0.353||4.59||3.07|
|Martin, Cody||23||2013||Braves (AAA)||13||11||69.2||8.5||22.6%||4.0||10.6%||1.29||0.283||3.49||3.85|
|Ventura, Yordano||22||2013||Royals (AAA)||15||14||77.0||9.5||24.3%||3.9||9.9%||1.47||0.357||3.74||3.17|
|Minor, Michael David||22||2010||Braves (AA)||14||14||82.0||11.3||30.4%||3.5||9.4%||1.23||0.313||3.84||3.16|
|Ventura, Yordano||22||2013||Royals (AA)||11||11||57.2||11.5||32.2%||3.1||8.7%||1.02||0.279||2.34||2.56|
|Inman, William||20||2007||Brewers (A+)||13||13||78.2||11.2||31.3%||2.6||7.3%||1.00||0.281||1.72||2.36|
|Betances, Dellin||22||2010||Yankees (A+)||14||14||71.0||11.2||31.7%||2.4||6.8%||0.87||0.252||1.77||1.83|
|Pomeranz, Thomas Andrew||22||2011||Indians (A+)||15||15||77.0||11.1||30.4%||3.7||10.2%||1.14||0.295||1.87||2.36|
|Odorizzi, Jacob||21||2011||Royals (A+)||15||15||78.1||11.8||32.5%||2.5||6.9%||1.15||0.344||2.87||2.15|
|Hornbeck, Ben Charles||21||2009||Athletics (A+)||21||11||76.2||13.0||33.8%||3.8||9.8%||1.25||0.347||3.52||2.30|
|Skaggs, Tyler W.||19||2011||Diamondbacks (A+)||17||17||100.2||11.2||30.3%||3.0||8.2%||1.14||0.309||3.22||2.65|
|Buckel, Cody J.||20||2012||Rangers (A+)||13||13||75.2||10.8||31.0%||3.0||8.5%||0.98||0.269||1.31||2.17|
|Ventura, Yordano||21||2012||Royals (A+)||16||16||76.1||11.6||30.1%||3.3||8.6%||1.23||0.314||3.30||3.12|
Ex-Royal, Jake Odorizzi shows up as a comp. One name which shows up twice is Tyler Skaggs. While Skaggs may not be the prospect we are hoping from Ventura, but I could see similar results. Specificity, I worried about Ventura giving up too many free passes (see Danny Duffy). Ventura has really struggled with walks when he jumps a level.
2012: 3.3 BB/9 in A+, 3.9 in AA
2013: 3.1 BB/9 in AA, 3.9 in AAA
I wonder if he is unsure if his stuff will get out better hitters. It will, but he just needs to find out for himself.
Truthfully, I can't wait for the first pitch tonight. I think he will be at his best if he attacks the strike zone and listen's to Sal. And throws lighting bolts of course. Lots and lots of lighting bolts.