~ Baseball America #16
~ Royals Prospects: #26
~ Royals Review #18
~ Kevin Goldstein: #11
~ John Sickels #26 C+
|FRk (2 seasons)||FRk||6||1||2.40||19||13||78.2||1.144||7.4||0.1||2.9||6.4||2.24|
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||10||5||4.52||26||7||93.2||1.409||10.2||0.3||2.5||7.9||3.15|
I’m glad I get to talk about Yambati for a bit, because if you’re anything like me, he’s almost always mentioned in the same sentence as fellow Arizona Rookie League pitcher Yordano Ventura and I continue to get them mixed up from time to time.
Yambati is the tall 19-year-old top 3 AZL prospect. Ventura is the short one (5’11″) but we’ll save his discussion for another day.
Overall, Yambati’s numbers look good. He has a decent ERA, good WHIP and his K/BB ratio is very good. He’s still young, so there’s a matter of consistency to consider. A lot of scouts consider him to have the type of frame that a pitcher can grow into and add velocity. This gives him considerable upside as he makes his way up the ladder, and he could be a low-minors breakout candidate.
He’s been all over with his stats, though, so far. In 2010, he significantly improved his walkrate and struckout more batters than ever, both good signs. He showed that he could dominate a low level rookie league and was moved up. In 2009, this made his numbers look all kinds of crazy, as he had a 0.77 ERA in the Dominican League, but that jumped to 8.89 once he got to Arizona.
Part of that change was that he had exceptionally good luck outside the states and exceptionally bad luck inside. As an 18-year-old, he held batters to 6.2 H/9 in the Dominican League – that works out to about a .246 BABIP over his 23.1 innings. When he got moved up, he pitched nearly the same number of innings (27.1), but batters hit .394 when the ball was put in play and he gave up 13.5 H/9. Both results are extreme and neither tell a lot about his actual skill level; perhaps he had poor defenders in Arizona, or very good ones back home. His strikeout and walkrates were about the same in both spots, so it doesn’t seem like a big shift in performance there.
The good news is that whatever the issues were in 2009 resolved themselves in 2010. En route to becoming the Royals pitcher of the year in Surprise, he mowed down 8.7 batters by strikeout per nine innings and only walked 1.6. He increased his innings pitched from any other level and was named the #3 prospect in the entire AZL for 2010.
As for his stuff, Yambati throws three pitches – a fastball, a two-seamer and a slider. His fastball has been reported to hit 98 mph in the past, but he’s been around 90-94 by most other reports. The two-seamer has “great tailing action” according to Keith Law, but the slider is “inconsistent”.
Yambati has another year of short-season ball in him, I think and might make some Low A appearances by the end of the year. He’ll have to show some consistency and get his secondary pitches worked out. It could just be a matter of another year around the game to add maturity and aid his approach and mechanics (and to tack on a bit more size and arm strength) and we could see Yambati up and into the top 10 in next year’s rankings.
Keep track of the full list of prospects in the Kings of Kauffman Countdown on our Prospect Rankings page under the Organization tab or by clicking here. Stay current on all the Kings of Kauffman content and news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or by way of our RSS feed.