Photo courtesy of Minda Haas

Yordano Ventura Dominates Rangers, Officially Named to Royals' Rotation

In a move most people saw coming, Ned Yost officially named Yordano Ventura the final member of the Royals’ starting rotation, following the young righty’s dominant performance in the team’s 6-0 victory over the Texas Rangers Monday night. 610 Sports’ Josh Vernier also reported that Danny Duffy would now be competing for a bullpen spot. I don’t actually think Duffy will be in the bullpen, since it seems like they would prefer he start games in Omaha, but that could be something to keep an eye on in these last couple of weeks of spring training.

As for Ventura, his game last night was simply terrific. The game was televised live on FOX Sports Kansas City, and Royals fans got their first glimpse of him since his debut last September, and they were not disappointed. In all, Ventura threw 6 innings, allowed 4 hits, 0 runs, and 0 walks, while striking out 6. His fastball was electric, as always, touching 101 MPH and possessing lots of late movement. His curveball – my goodness, his curveball – was outstanding. Ventura struck out the first two hitters of the game (Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus) with knee-buckling curves after setting them up with the hard stuff. If his curveballs starred in a major motion picture, the film would have to be rated NC-17. They were that dirty.

He only threw 11 changeups all night, but with the way everything else was working, he didn’t need to throw that pitch as frequently. Of Ventura’s 73 total pitches, 48 were strikes, including 9 whiffs (3 fastballs, 1 changeup, 5 curveballs). He threw pitches to both sides of the plate and generated 9 ground ball outs. As you can tell from the walks total, he commanded his stuff extremely well.

However, one of the most impressive things I saw from Ventura was his ability to adjust to hitters. Early on, it seemed like he was relying on his fastball on the first pitch a bit too often. With a fastball like his, falling in love with it can be an easy thing to do. But at the same time, hitters pay attention to those things, and the Rangers hitters were starting to swing away on the first pitch, knowing it would probably be a fastball in the zone. In the first three innings, every hitter Ventura faced saw a first pitch fastball. After the third inning, only 5 of the 11 Rangers’ hitters who stepped to the plate against Ventura saw a first pitch fastball, while he started another 5 off with a curveball and 1 more with a changeup.

In other words, Ventura (along with Salvador Perez and the coaching staff) saw what the hitters were doing, and adjusted their approach. And it worked like a charm. Since he had been hitting his spots, batters were going to expect balls in the strike zone, and since no one wants to fall behind in the count against Ventura, they wanted to be aggressive. Then, when Ventura started throwing his curveball on the first pitch, they didn’t really know what to expect. It was a great plan, and Ventura executed it to perfection.

Despite a few opposing hitters making fairly solid contact (that happens when the ball hits their bat while traveling 100 MPH), Ventura showed why the Royals wanted him to be a part of their Opening Day rotation. He was his usual calm self on the mound, he worked quickly, and he made Rangers’ hitters look absolutely silly. Choo just received a $130 million contract, and in his first two at bats, he didn’t stand a chance against Ventura.

As I always say, we have to take spring training statistics with a large grain of salt, and even though his 15 strikeouts and 1 walk in 15.1 innings are impressive numbers, it’s the way Ventura’s pitching that’s making it difficult to contain my excitement about him. When his secondary pitches are as sharp as they were last night, and when his command is on, Ventura is a joy to watch, and a terror to hit against. Granted, he could still go out and have a rough game before breaking camp, and his spring training numbers may come down quite a bit prior to his first start of the season in Detroit. However, it’s looking more and more like Ventura is preparing to make an enormous impact in the major leagues this season.

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Tags: Kansas City Royals Yordano Ventura

  • unclejesse40

    How can you not be excited about this kid! Does anyone know what the original contract he signed was for? Seems like we should be offering and extension right now like we did with Sal and Escobar.

    • Hunter Samuels

      He signed for $28,000. I think the Royals probably want to see him perform for a bit in the regular season first, but if he does well, I absolutely think they’ll work hard to get him locked up for a while. That’s why the service time argument for keeping him in the minors never held any water.

      • unclejesse40

        Thanks for the contract number Hunter. That is a crazy number and I can only imagine that he would be willing to sign a team friendly deal in order to have a little spending money. If it was me I would be talking with his agent to see what he wants right now and see if we could get this stud signed. Is there a risk with signing him early, yes there is but if he comes out and dominates for two or three years, there is no way in Hades that the Royals will be able to afford him. I know it a small sample size and there is concerns about his size, but the truth is every year he seems to grow and inch and put on 10-15 pounds, so it doesn’t worry me as much. I like what I see! Really glad that he wasn’t part of the Will Myers deal!!!!!!

    • jessanders

      I agree completely. Sure, there’s a lot of risk at offering a long term deal now, but it’s a cheap risk I’m willing to take. A few million a year to lock up a guy who could compete for the Cy Young in years to come? YES PLEASE! Worst case is he gets injured, and we’re out a few million a year…

  • jessanders

    His stuff was, as you say, just… Sick. I did a rewind over and over again on his first two strikeouts. The hitters just looked silly against him.

    I hope that Zimmer pans out. If we can have Ventura and Zimmer at top form as projected, throw in Manea (who from all accounts is looking like he may quickly become a better prospect than Zimmer), we may have a 1-2-3 punch to rival anyone in baseball.

  • moretrouble

    Frankly, last night, Ventura looked better than Strasburg. If the KC prospect pitchers continue to develop as planned, the Royals won’t need to re-sign guys. The kid was pretty impressive. A shout-out to Salvy for calling a great game and keeping hitters off balance. Nice work.

  • nathan82

    I got home last night in time for the 4th inning. I haven’t seen the Royals yet this year and was really impressed. Ventura was amazing, even in those later innings. I was equally impressed by Moustakas. He looked really good in that batters box and made a great play in the field. There is part of me that doesn’t want to get too excited. We have been here before after all. But thats no fun. I am pumped to see this team play.