The Kansas City Royals promoted pitching propsect Yordano Ventura to Triple-A Omaha, the team announced on their Twitter feed Monday.
Ventura made 11 starts for Double-A Northwest Arkansas this season, looking much sharper on the mound than he did in six Double-A starts in 2012. Ventura threw 57 2/3 innings with a 2.34 ERA, striking out 74 batters while issuing 20 walks. The right-handed pitcher had a 4.60 ERA in 29 1/3 innings at Double-A last season.
If you are unsure who Ventura is or why you should care that he has been promoted to Triple-A, John Sickels at Minor League Ball ranked Ventura as the Royals third best prospect heading into the season, and had this to say about the young pitcher:
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+: Love the stuff and I'm not concerned about his size. Command wobbles in Double-A make me hesitate to give him the +, but I may very well do so.
Personally, I'm a little shocked that the move came when it did, but Ventura's statistics definitely look dominating. I'm going to assume that their scouts also believe that Ventura is ready for Triple-A, but it's hard to give Kansas City the benefit of the doubt when it comes to pitcher development.
Of course, most of the Royals other starting pitching prospects never had the level of success at Double-A that Ventura had this season, so that is a promising development.
Now that Ventura is in Triple-A, the Royals might feel the temptation to promote the flamethrower to the major-league bullpen if they need help the rest of the season. I hope they avoid that decision for multiple reasons. For one, Ventura is probably going to be good in the bullpen, which will make the temptation of leaving him in there and not giving him a chance to start strong.
Secondly, this season looks lost at the moment, so its better for Ventura to gain experience starting in Triple-A than attempting to help this team pick up a few more victories. It's Venutra's 22 birthday today, so there should be no rush to promote Ventura to the majors.
It's possible that we see Ventura in the majors this season, but there would need to be a drastic change in the health of the pitching staff or this team's chances at contention to see him before September. For now, it's another step forward for a promising young pitcher.