45 Prospects in 45 Days: Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura
Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.
For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.
The Kansas City Royals pitching prospect Yordano Ventura threw 138 fastballs as a starter last season at the major league level. He pitched only 15.1 innings. I don’t have to tell you that neither of those led the league among starting pitchers. However, his 98 MPH fastball did. Small sample size or not…
And that is coming from a person who is only 5-11, 180 pounds. That size happens to be one of the big strikes against Ventura. Those who mention it, worry about his ability to stay healthy and throw 200 innings. Although there have been no serious health issues to date.
The 22-year-old mixes his big heater with a curveball and an occasional changeup. He is competing for a spot in the rotation this spring. He just had an impressive start against the A’s, striking out six in 4.1 innings, while walking none. He continues to make his case and is the favorite for the job. If he happens to win it, there is plenty of strikeout potential in this right-hander’s arm.
Ventura has seen himself behind fellow top pitching prospect, Kyle Zimmer, but that’s certainly no knock. Here is how Ventura came out in the 2014 top-100 lists:
Baseball America: 26
Keith Law: 50
Marc Hulet: 33
Baseball Prospectus: 12
Baseball Prospectus is the only one that ranked Ventura over Zimmer.
Fangraphs prospect writer, Marc Hulet, discusses Ventura:
“Small but mighty, Ventura can routinely hit triple digits with his heater. He backs that up with an above-average curveball but his changeup still needs further refinement to be a reliable offering. His lack of premium size could preclude him from routinely breaking the 200-inning barrier but he’s held up well to date. Ventura’s control waivers at times and I’d like to see him change eye levels with the fastball a little more consistently.
The Dominican native will always have his detractors due to his lack of premium size but Ventura has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter if his body holds up to the rigors of pitching 200+ innings a season.”
Hulet mentioned the lack of a third pitch (the changeup in this case) being an issue, but the control may also be cause for concern.
Minor League Production
Give me all the K’s.
Ventura may need to lower that walk rate to take the next step. Not to acknowledge a small sample size, but the walks didn’t totally go away in his 15.1 inning stint with the Royals last season.
Ventura tends to give up too many flyballs, but his home park is favorable against homers and the Royals outfield should provide above average defense. He did give up three dingers during his last start in Chicago against the White Sox. Again, there isn’t much to work with in terms of numbers at the big league level. His HR/9 was more than fine in the minors, but let’s see what the projections say.
The projections aren’t great. Steamer is the friendliest of the three. The group agreed on issues with the walk rate with a spike in home runs allowed compared to the minor league numbers. It would be hard to argue with that. Ventura appears to be a flyball pitcher and is still ironing out his control. The potential lack of a third pitch could also work against him.
Many times we tend to fall in love with upcoming prospects. We like shiny new toys, but in certain instances, these prospects are still working through some kinks. Ventura is close, but it seems he has a few things that need work.
Recent age curves have shown us that young prospects are succeeding in the bigs more quickly, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hiccups along the way. Ignoring Ventura’s size, his biggest drawbacks are the walks and the lack of a consistent changeup, which is needed to be his third pitch. Over time, maybe he can use that changeup to generate more groundballs (instead of whiffs), helping out his potential flyball problem. In the end, Ventura is worthy of a late round flyer in hopes that he got it all together during the offseason.