Sep 17, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Yordano Ventura Could be the Royals Second Starter


Sep 17, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) delivers a pitch in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Barring another move in free agency or a trade, it appears as though the Royals are going to be relying upon two of their young starters to be part of the rotation. While James Shields is certainly the ace of the rotation, the other veteran options in Jeremy Guthrie and the newly signed Jason Vargas are more middle of the rotation innings eaters than anything else.

With that being the case, the Royals are likely to rely upon Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura to step in and attempt to fill the role vacated by Ervin Santana. With Duffy coming back from Tommy John surgery, it may be Ventura that is able to step into that role.

Ventura certainly tantalized with his talent during his three starts at the end of the season, finishing with a 3.52 ERA and striking out eleven in his 15.1 innings of work. That built off his strong minor league campaign, where between two stops, Ventura combined for an 8-6 record with a 3.14 ERA. He struck out 155 batters in 134.2 innings, with only 53 walks.

Armed with a fourseam fastball that touches 100 MPH, while mixing in a sinker and a low 80′s curve, Yordano Ventura certainly has the repertoire that could lead to success. Yet, Ventura is more than just a power arm. In his brief time in Kansas City, Ventura displayed an ability to generate ground balls, getting an out on the ground for every fly out. With one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball behind him in Alcides Escobar, if the Royals are able to get a second baseman that is also solid with the glove, Ventura could end up as one of the Royals better starters in 2014.

Although it would be great to see the Royals either bring back Santana or sign another free agent to fill out the second slot in the rotation, Yordano Ventura may be capable of filling that role soon. He may even be able to step up and become the de facto second starter as soon as this upcoming season.

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  • jimfetterolf

    I like Duffy at #2 and Ventura at #5, Duffy more experienced, the 5-slot keeping Ventura’s innings down a little. Coin-flip that will be decided in spring training, hope Duffy locks in his release point on the control and can command. Plus, there’s always Will Smith, whom I also think is ready.

    • Dave Lowe

      I agree with you on Wil Smith. GMDM also stated in a radio interview last week that Hochevar is being considered for the rotation again. Yikes…

      I can see Duffy as a #2, but only if he can go 7-8 innings consistently. I just don’t see that yet, but he is a very competitive person, so it is possible he harnesses the control.

      • jimfetterolf

        Dave, my understanding is that Duffy struggled with finding a consistent release point for his curve and couldn’t command what is a nasty pitch. That is something he should be able to gain control of in spring training after a winter of baseball rest and general conditioning and maybe some film work with Dave Eiland. He had it in early ’11, so I think it’s something he can repeat. He is more likely to be on unlimited innings than Ventura, who threw a total of 150 innings last year. I’m actually pretty good with either as #5 because they both have the ability to square off against a Verlander or Sales, just from floating pitching match-ups. Duffy also had a cutter and slider before he was hurt, so the cutter may reappear.

        If either can harness command and average seven innings we’re talking about ace performance. Shields averaged 6.2, Wainwright and Kershaw a touch over 7, seriously elite company.

        As for Hoch, I assume he’ll be tendered and is on the block, so don’t be surprised if he gets several starts in spring training as an audition. And pitchers do get hurt, so nothing will happen with him ’til then. If he has his head together and internalizes the coaching, he’s still got nasty stuff, as does Davis, but the team probably doesn’t need both and both can close.

        Of course, Smith is also ready. What may happen is that the least commanding of the three starts the year in Omaha on a short leash, probably quickly joined by Zimmer and alongside Dwyer. I think we have the depth that this will work out. In a perfect world, three of them will be ready by the ASB and Guthrie traded with the Royals contending. If Shields won’t extend this off-season I might trade him also and I’ve wanted to trade Alex for one and a half seasons. I’m just that kind of guy.

        • Dave Lowe

          Good analysis. I agree with trading Shields and Guthrie if we can flip for some prospects.

          As for Gordon, I just don’t get trading him. He is our highest WAR player and a huge asset on defense. He is a fan favorite as well.

          What would you want to get in a trade for Gordon? Name some players…be specific.

          • jimfetterolf

            Prospects. At least a four-tool middle infielder; speed, glove, arm, and hit tools, a AA 3rd baseman with four or five tools, and a mix of three A/A+ hot arms. I think our other four OFs can handle things and Alex is the most expensive and most valuable player we have, worth easily double what Billy would return. Cincinnati looked good the year before last, but haven’t researched the various farms recently.

            The Tampa paradigm, which I’ve bought into, suggests that this is the correct business move for our market and stage of development. Gordon would be a monster in a band box park, Yankee Stadium would be perfect for him but the Yanks have no prospects, Baltimore would also be a good fit for him, some of the small NL parks.

          • unclejesse40

            Jim what do I need to do to get you hired on as the Royals next General Manger? Love the out of box thinking because that is what KC needs.

          • jimfetterolf

            At least one member of upper management reads us here and a couple of the Star reporters also keep an eye on this site and others, couple of degrees of separation from Dayton Moore, so good ideas get passed along, although I believe Moore has been weighing this for awhile, especially since Lough blossomed and Maxwell arrived, he now has a window plus replacements within a few years.

          • Dave Hill

            That’s quite interesting to know Jim. I knew that the page had a strong following amongst Royals fans before I came over here, but I had no idea that people from the front office and the Star paid attention as well. Gives me more incentive to keep trying to give you all the effort this site deserves.

          • jimfetterolf

            I catch some of the Star writers using specific phrases and the Royals occasionally show signs of knowing what goes on at KoK and Judging the Royals. I’m pretty sure one of them was posting on JtR in ’12, the only screen name allowed there at the time. He was a fine poster and we agreed quite often :) One of the Star writers did a nice job expanding some discussions of a “Quality Starter” on Vargas we had here, another predictably synopsizes what’s said in the blogosphere after a few days.

            I’m always conscious of the degrees of separation in a small market such that many of us can get by on just first names with only a couple of useful discussion venues for the grown-ups. This is one such venue, toes the fine line between being a Negative Nancy fanboy chat room and being just a propaganda outlet for the team. That’s why I stay here.

          • Dave Hill

            Being in southeastern Massachusetts, this was one of my go-to places for Royals news. Never knew that the mainstream press out there were paying attention here, especially given the Boston attitude towards the blogosphere and how they perceive internet writers (not well at all). Nice to see that mindset does not permeate the rest of the country.

          • jimfetterolf

            KC is a small market, which is why there is one Lee, one Sam, one Bob, one Rany, one Mike, one Greg, one Clint, one Marcus, and even one Jim. For Dave there is you and Lowe.

          • Dave Hill

            If I can even make half the impact that the aforementioned group has, I would consider that a success.

          • Dave Hill

            I was thinking the same thing Jessie.

          • Dave Lowe

            I disagree with you. We’ve got middle infield prospects with tools (Mondesi, Calixte), and we’ve got a AA 3rd baseman with tools (Dozier, Cuthbert). Why would we trade Gordon for something we already have?

            If we trade Alex, it needs to be for major league ready proven talent, such as at 2B or RF.

            But it doesn’t make sense to trade Alex to fill RF, because then you’ve got a hole in LF!

            I’m not in favor of trading Alex. If we cannot extend him, we can wait until the final year of his contract to deal him.

            David

          • jimfetterolf

            Reasonable, but I like multiple prospects for each position. Moose and Gio used to be hot prospects.

            I just think we get a much stronger return on him now and we have the bodies to fill LF. An OF of Lough, Cain, and Dyson/Maxwell looks reasonable and cheap. Just a suggestion, since we’re thinking trades. I do a “What would Tampa do?” thing.

          • Dave Lowe

            Yes, Lough/Cain/Dyson is cheap. It also is severely lacking in power.

          • jimfetterolf

            The K is where power goes to die, although Maxwell has some. What we need from the OF is great defense, speed, and the hit tool. Gordon would probably hit 40 homers in Yankee Stadium and Billy 40 in Camden Yards. The Royals’ record is 36 and Brett got 30 once, Bill 29. You build a team for your home park and unless the fences are brought in 20 feet, the Royals won’t get a lot more homers. Big problem last year was Billy and Alex fell way off in doubles.

          • jimfetterolf

            Dave, good to see you here, you’re an insightful poster and make this site better.

          • Dave Lowe

            Thanks! You too.

        • Dave Lowe

          Can anyone tell me why Wil Smith isn’t being considered for a rotation spot? He’s a big, tall, intense lefty..reminds me of Pettitte. Yet the Royals refuse to give him much of a shot in the rotation.

          • jimfetterolf

            Dave, I think he’s very much in the mix. It’s going to be a battle for two spots, Duffy in the lead but he needs to command more than two pitches, same for Ventura.

            Spring training will decide things, Smith is advanced and experienced, so might have something of an edge on Ventura, who is also likely to be gamed for Super two status. If Ventura wins out, Smith will be the swing man.

  • Dave Lowe

    Agree with this, David. Ever since the Vargas announcement, I’ve been wondering whether Ventura could step it up and dominate like so many other young pitchers around the majors did last season, such as:

    Shelby Miller
    Gerritt Cole
    Danny Salazar
    Julio Teheran
    Sonny Gray
    Alex Cobb
    Jarred Cosart
    Taijuan Walker
    Patrick Corbin
    Yusmeiro Petit
    Tony Cingrani

    I hope the Royals give him a shot, along with Kyle Zimmer.

    Danny Duffy? My hope is that he can somehow learn to TRUST HIS DEFENSE and throws more strikes. He’s got to trust the guys behind him and not get into so many high pitch count innings.

    Thoughts?
    David

    • Dave Hill

      I think Zimmer is at least a half season away – he has only four games above A ball at this point (I have an idea for a post for later today – thanks Dave!) Ventura, to me, seems to be the pitching prospect most likely to provide an immediate turnaround for the Royals this season. Not sure that I’d put him at Miller or Cole levels, but he could end up being on a list similar to that for 2014. At this point, that seems to be what the Royals may be banking on.

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  • unclejesse40

    So is it worth signing a pitcher like Shaun Marcum on a one year deal to see if he can reestablish some value and if he does you have no problem with trading him at the deadline and promoting one of the young pitchers from AAA to fill in the spot? I could see Duffy in AAA to work on command issues, and have Ventura up here pitching in the rotation. His little frame does worry me so I think pitching in AAA any more than he has to might be wasting whatever number of pitches he has in that Electric arm.

    • Dave Hill

      Marcum could be interesting, and the type of pitcher that the Royals could look to, aside from Hughes. He certainly would be a solid low risk investment for a year, and may be someone to give a look.

    • Dave Lowe

      Absolutely no. Stay away from Marcum. Sorry, but I just don’t like him…never have. And I think he’s washed up physically.

      • Dave Hill

        I don’t necessarily like Marcum either, but he fits the profile. Honestly, I’d rather have Hughes – much more upside at what I would expect to be a much lower cost.

        • Dave Lowe

          Fit’s “the profile?” What profile? The profile of a loser?

          As a general rule, if I don’t want a pitcher on my fantasy baseball squad, I don’t want to see him suited up in Royal blue. I want no part of Vargas or Marcum on my fantasy squad, and in fact, these two pitchers normally go undrafted in fantasy drafts.

          • Dave Hill

            The profile of a bounce back candidate that they could possibly get on a one year deal. Somehow, it feels like if the Royals sign another starter, it’s going to be Marcum. I should ask my buddy Justin at JaysJournal what he thinks of Marcum – if I can find enough non-profane words for a post.

  • moretrouble

    Ventura is one of the better pitching prospects I’ve ever seen. He located his breaking stuff well when I saw him. His FB was up in the zone the day I saw him, but he was impressive. According to Baseball Reference, Ventura threw 134 innings last season, up from 109 the year before. Whether he can handle the extra innings he’ll get as a starter in the MLB, who knows, but he’s a great talent.