(Photo Credit: Bill Mitchell/milb.com)
When we initially took a glance at pitching prospect Yadier Alvarez back in December, he didn’t have much of a track record in terms of organized baseball, and it remained somewhat of a mystery the exact type of skill set he would bring along with him to the farm. Moreover, due to visa issues at the time, nobody within the Dodgers‘ organization had a firm idea as to when he would arrive stateside.
Now that he’s landed in camp, Alvarez has already impressed both spectators and scouts with his electric arm during several exhibitions on the back fields of Camelback Ranch.
Last Saturday, Alvarez made his first appearance against an outside opponent since signing a contract with the Dodgers last winter. Facing the lower-tier prospects from the San Diego Padres‘ system, Alvarez struck out two batters and had only one ball leave the infield in the two frames that he threw.
Josh Norris of Baseball America was on hand specifically to see Alvarez pitch, walking away extremely impressed.
Norris explained how Alvarez ultimately built up his fastball to the upper-90s, while countering his heat with a dynamic slider almost 20 MPH slower.
“Alvarez used a loose, whippy arm to generate lively fastballs that started out in the low-90s and eventually built to the mid-90s before touching 99 mph near his outing’s end. He coupled the pitch with a low-80s slider that garnered swings and misses as well.”
Also courtesy of Baseball America, there was some limited video available for most of us to see Alvarez’s rangy, yet fluid delivery for the first time.
Being so early in his career, it’s hard to tell if he has the stamina, durability or even the overall command to be a starter. Having just turned 20-years old on March 7, he’s still in need of some time to fill out his 6’3″, 175 lb. frame. Nevertheless, Dodgers’ Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes is excited to watch Alvarez develop.
“He’s one of the more talented 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.”
In addition to his four-seamer and slider, Alvarez is also developing a changeup, which is said to have just enough arm speed to fool batters who are sitting on the heater. All that being said, he does have control issues, often falling behind in counts and consistently missing his spots on the corners. Regardless, a 99 MPH fastball countered by a 81 MPH slider with vicious spin will make any scout’s eyes grow wide.
Alvarez is among several younger prospects who are part of what Dodgers’ President Stan Kasten describes as the next wave of players necessary in “becoming a long-term, self-sustaining organization.”
If he stays on course and consistently improves his pitching command, Alvarez may see time with the Ogden Raptors when Pioneer League play begins in June.