Pitcher profile: Yordano Ventura

Sarah Glenn

An impact arm.

The last time the Rays faced a rookie making his first start of the season, the question was whether or not he was ready for the major leagues. Throw all of that out with Yordano Ventura. The major leagues may not be ready for him.

Ranked as the Kansas City Royals number two prospect by both Baseball America and FanGraphs, Ventura is an undersized 23-year-old righty who can reach triple digits on the radar gun. Baseball America has consistently rated his fastball as the best in the Royals' system, and after the 2013 season, they named him the twenty-sixth best prospect in baseball.

His 15 innings over three major-league starts last year weren't enough for us to draw any conclusions about his abilities, but they do give us something to look at.

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via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

His fastball averaged 97 mph. From that movement, I'd say that he throws a two-seamer, and possibly even a cutter in addition to his bread-and-butter rising four-seam fastball. The movement's not once-in-a-generation the way Matt Moore's (RIP) is, but it's still very good. When you can throw 97 mph (the way Moore now can't), it doesn't have to be perfect.

Scouts have praised Ventura's curve ball as a plus pitch as well. It's 12-6 break isn't huge, but it's pretty hard, and the result is a tight swing-and-miss pitch that Ventura can throw for strikes. Check out out the video from the useful site, Pitcher Gifs (click to make it move).

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via giant.gfycat.com

His third pitch is a mid-to-high-80s straight changeup. It's a work in progress (making Ventura and Chris Archer similar types with two fantastic pitches and a developing change). It really doesn't move much, so Ventura will rely on opposing hitters being fooled by the arm action and the velocity difference. That can work, especially when the 86 mph straight changeup comes after a 100 mph rising fastball.

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