The Tampa Bay Rays have become known for generating young starting pitchers. Their minor league system, which has been amongst the best in baseball over the majority of the past over the past few years, has seemingly turned into an assembly line of pitching. Tonight’s starter, Chris Archer, is certainly no exception, ranking amongst the top 100 prospects in baseball from 2011 through 2013, when he received his chance in the majors.
The Kansas City Royals, meanwhile, have struggled to develop starting pitching. Despite routinely placing starters amongst the top prospects in baseball, none of them have panned out, whether from injury issues (Danny Duffy, John Lamb, etc) or a sudden loss of effectiveness (Mike Montgomery). There are, however, prospects on the cusp of making an impact in the majors that could end that disappointing trend. Tonight’s starter for the Royals, Yordano Ventura, is the first of that new wave of pitching prospects.
In a lot of ways, tonight’s matchup may well be considered a potential glimpse into Ventura’s future. Like Ventura is now, Archer was considered to be a potential top of the rotation pitcher, someone who may turn into an excellent second starter. Both pitchers featured exceptional fastballs, and have had scouts question their control, considering it to be “below average.” Archer turned his control around last season, walking under three batters per nine innings. During Spring Training, Ventura showed that his perceived control issues may also be improving, walking 2.3 batters per nine.
With Yordano Ventura holding down the third spot in the rotation, and with his status as one of the Royals top pitching prospects, there are high hopes for how he will perform this season. Even though Archer came up part way through last year, he had similarly high expectations. Should Ventura be able to produce a season close to how Archer performed last year, when he produced a 3.22 ERA, a 1.127 WHiP and a strikeout to walk rate of 2.66, the Royals would certainly be ecstatic.
Yordano Ventura is expected to be a mainstay in the Royals rotation for years to come. Tonight, he faces a pitcher in Chris Archer who could potentially provide a glimpse into Ventura’s future.