Yefri Del Rosario missed 2019 with injury issues. But he may be the most exciting prospect in a Kansas City Royals system filled with pitching prospects.
In 2017 the Atlanta Braves were caught cheating in order to sign international players. Major League Baseball came down hard on them, declaring a dozen prospects they had signed free agents. You just know one of those players will turn out to be an excellent major leaguer because that just must be how this works. And it is entirely possible that the Kansas City Royals got the best prospect of the bunch when they signed Yefri Del Rosario.
The information we have on Del Rosario to this point is limited. He has pitched 116 innings over 2 seasons in the minors. He also missed the 2019 season with a lingering biceps issue. The Royals made the correct decision to not rush him back. He has a bright future ahead of him.
Yefri works fast. He is comfortable on the mound and attacks the strike zone. He trusts his stuff. You can see both the power of his fastball and the drop on his breaking ball in the video below from 2080 Baseball.
In 2018, Del Rosario started 15 games in the South Atlantic League as an 18-year-old. After finding his way through his first three appearances in Lexington he went at least 5 innings in every other start. His last appearance was a 7-inning shutout. He was 4 years younger than his average competition. He struck out more than 8 per 9 innings and finished with an ERA of 3.19.
It is difficult not to get excited about a pitcher putting up those numbers at that age. He has a fastball that has been clocked as fast as 97 MPH and there is a belief that as he grows into his body, he will add even more velocity. He also has a plus breaking ball. His changeup was a work in progress the last time we saw it, but he was also only the age of many high school seniors. In the video below from Minor League Baseball, you can see how impressive his breaking stuff is. It is not only almost unhittable; after setting it up with his fastball the hitter has almost no chance of even timing it.
Yefri not only seemed to get a feel for facing professional hitters during his age 18 season, but he was also dominating them by the end of the year. He will soon face tougher tests as he moves up against competition that will be more equipped to keep up with his blazing fastball.
We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what this young man can become. And if he can develop his changeup into a serviceable pitch, he has the potential to become a front of rotation talent. We will not see him in Kansas City in 2020. But he is exciting enough to keep track of as he works his way through the minor league system