In between now and the last time we took a brief moment to see what was happening with pitching prospect Yadier Alvarez, not only did the 20-year-old Cuban righty breeze his way through rookie ball and impress at Low-A Great Lakes, but he also elevated himself into several of the Top 5 lists of Dodgers prospects published during this offseason.
While many scouts perceived him as a high risk/high reward type of prospect from the beginning, Alvarez continues to impress the Dodgers’ management crew with his sizzling fastball, in addition to showing superb calmness and levelheadedness about himself.
“His fastball is a power fastball. He tops out at 100 MPH several times per game. He’ll sit around 96 and he’s got a sharp curve. You can tell the hitters were intimidated. For him to be as young as he is and have such an easy delivery and hit 100 is impressive,” said Gil Velazquez, manager of the Loons in 2016.
“I saw him pitch in spring camp and saw how under control he was with his emotions and character. His delivery was very calm and controlled, but his arm was so impressive. Honestly, I’m not surprised at what he’s done here. If he speeds up his delivery a little more and gets a little more aggressive, I feel he’s a guy who can be dominant in the majors.”
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 in July of 2015.
For the Loons last season, Alvarez made nine starts and threw 39-1/3 innings, compiling a 2.29 ERA while punching out 55 batters. Prior to joining Great Lakes, he made five starts for the Arizona League Dodgers, tallying a 1.80 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP and a 11.7 K/9 over an even 20 innings of work.
When we initially took a glance at Alvarez last 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. Now that he’s beginning to progress through the lower levels of the minors, reports from many of the scouts have been outstanding.
As far as his repertoire, Alvarez features a four-seamer that varies in velocity in the 95-100 MPH range. His slider is by far his best breaking pitch, often being clocked around 20 MPH slower than his fastest heater. His change and curve ball are still in the developmental stages, but were already beginning to show promise in Low-A ball.
People who follow Alvarez closely believe that he could make an impact as a reliever early in his career, yet many of the pundits see his best potential as a starter, so long as he continues to sharpen his command and stabilize his mechanics. Some scouts have even uttered a conceivable ceiling of a No. 2 starting pitcher.
If he stays on course and consistently improves his pitching control, Alvarez may zip through the High-A level and possibly contribute to the Double-A Tulsa squad at some point during the 2017 season.