Baseball America ranked the rail thin Yordano Ventura as the Kansas City Royals number 10 prospect heading into the 2012 season. He did nothing to disappoint.
The 21-year old out of the Dominican Republic has added about ten miles per hour to his fastball since signing at 17 as he’s gained weight and cleaned up his delivery. Still, throwing 100mph for a 5’11, 160 pounder is impressive.
Ventura has gotten into trouble when he worries more about the radar gun and I was witness to that during a start for High-A Wilmington in 2012. The harder he threw, the more erratic he was. When he was around 93mph, he commanded his fastball better and made his 79-83 mph changeup that much harder to hit. The overthrowing also causes his plus potential curveball to flatten. The loss of command also leads to shorter outings (which I also was witness to).
The Royals have pushed Ventura since he responds well and he reached Double-A at midseason. With the Blue Rocks, he was 3-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 16 starts. Over 76.1 innings (which is a little less than five innings per start), he allowed 66 hits (seven homeruns) and walked 28, compared to 98 strikeouts. Those numbers got him named to the Carolina League All-Star team and had him starting the Futures Game for the World Team at Kauffman Stadium.
Ventura struggled a bit after his promotion to NW Arkansas. In six starts, he threw just 29.1 innings. He allowed 23 hits and walked 13, compared to 25 strikeouts. He also had a 4.60 ERA.
Baseball America believes Ventura has the potential to be a front-line big league starter, but he could end up at the back end of a bullpen if he doesn’t repeat his mechanics. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star currently ranks Ventura as the Royals sixth best prospect. MLB.com puts him at number five.
I believe Ventura will be back with the Naturals to start the 2013 season. He could see Triple-A if he has a solid first half.