After defecting from Cuba at the age of 18 and showcasing his skills in the Dominican Prospect League, the Dodgers signed Álvarez to a $16 million bonus on the first day of the 2015-2016 international signing period last July.
He’s currently ranked as the 10th best prospect in the Dodgers organization by Ben Badler of Baseball America.
“Alvarez, 19, has been clocked anywhere from 92-98 mph with his fastball, with a skinny frame (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) and a quick arm. His secondary stuff is inconsistent, but he has flashed an above-average slider that’s ahead of his changeup, a pitch he’s still learning to maintain his arm speed when he throws one. There’s some wildness in the very limited track record that exists with Alvarez, who never pitched in Serie Nacional and did not make Cuba’s junior national team before he left the island.”
Dodgers Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes and other Dodgers scouts were intrigued by the velocity of Álvarez’s fastball and potential for plus breaking stuff dating back to December of 2014.
“He’s one of the more talented teenage right-handed pitchers we’ve seen. A lot of us have been doing this a long time,” Byrnes said. “He has a prototypical body, with high-end velocity. We’ve seen him consistently 92-97 mph, occasionally touching 99-100. There is very little effort, a pretty good feel for secondary pitches, and he’s a pretty good strike-thrower. He’s got a long way to go, but his foundation, his ingredients for his age are pretty rare, so we’re excited to have him.”
It’s hard to say this early if Álvarez has the stamina or durability to be a starter. He finished out 2015 by throwing 2-4 innings per clip during workouts in the Dominican Republic, and it’s probable he’ll begin his career in the States with the Arizona League Dodgers this spring.
If he proves capable of handling the role of being a starter, his value and ranking among Dodgers prospects will skyrocket.
Rookie ball will be a valuable gauge in assessing the true talent of Álvarez. If he measures up anywhere near his initial evaluations, the already stellar Dodgers farm system will have gotten just a little bit deeper.
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