Dodgers Prospect Watch: Yadier Alvarez Finally Beginning to Stir

Now that the regular season is quickly approaching its third week, we’re finding out a bit more on a daily basis about why a handful of players in the Dodgers‘ system mysteriously disappeared from their normal roster statuses during the early phases of the 2017 campaign.

Righty phenom Walker Buehler was held back at extended spring training for a little over a week, non-roster invite Josh Sborz spent a little over two weeks in Glendale, and prized prospect Yadier Alvarez hung around Camelback Ranch for almost three weeks before finally making his debut against the Lancaster JetHawks on Monday.

And if the more dedicated fans dig hard enough, they’ll find that there were plenty more beginning their respective seasons in extended spring training, perhaps a ploy by management to utilize a new type of strategy in the development of some of the younger players. All this is happening while 20-year-old southpaw Julio Urias is still taking his turns in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City — something that fans didn’t expect to see until early May, after Urias was able to rest his arm in hopes of saving his fuel for the 2017 postseason.

Rumors were circulating in early spring whispering that Alvarez showed up to camp a bit out of shape and was sent to Glendale to tuneup for a brief time. Regardless, he did what was expected of him early, and finally made it to the bump to start a game for Rancho Cucamonga in the Cal League this week.

In the end, Alvarez’s debut was not pretty at all. He didn’t strikeout a single batter, which is extremely uncharacteristic of the 21-year-old righty. He ended up throwing 65 pitches over 2-1/3 innings, surrendering seven runs on nine hits, with two walks and two wild pitches in the Quakes’ 9-5 loss to Lancaster.

According to J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group, Alvarez’s fastball sat in the 93-96 MPH range in the first frame, and drifted down to the 90-92 range by the beginning of the third inning. Last season, Alvarez was clocked in the triple digits on more than one occasion. Yet while his initial performance of the 2017 season was indeed a bit gloomy, all signs point to the young Cuban regaining his form quickly during his next few turns in the Rancho rotation.

For the fans of the Dodgers who may be unfamiliar with Alvarez, he’s currently ranked as the second best prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline. Between Rookie League and Low-A Great Lakes last season, he posted a 4-3 record with a 2.12 ERA and a 12.3 K/9 over 59-1/3 innings of work.

When we initially took a glance at Alvarez in December of 2015, 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 94-100 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 curveball are still in the developmental stages, but were already beginning to show promise with the Loons and in the Arizona League.

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. Some scouts have even uttered a conceivable ceiling of a No. 2 starting pitcher.

Having just turned 20-years-old in March, he’s still in need of some time to fill out his lanky 6’3″ frame, yet if he stays on course and consistently improves his pitching control, Alvarez may zip through the High-A level this year and conceivably see limited time with Double-A Tulsa by season’s end.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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More Roster Shuffling Ahead for Dodgers

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. And for some fans of the Dodgers, that’s not a good thing. It would seem that having a team built to win the NL West once again and go deep into the playoffs would be a really good thing, but that’s not enough. Fans are hungry for a World Series win, and are tired of this really good team not making it.

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Dodgers Roster: Realigning the Starting Pitching Depth Chart

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(Mandatory Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Admittedly for many fans of the Dodgers, veteran lefty Rich Hill wasn’t the first member of the original starting rotation thought to have been destined for a stay on the 10-day disabled list so early in the season. But while this move is more of a precautionary measure than a required need, it’s probably safe to say that Hill’s stay will result more towards the minimum amount of time instead of an elongated period. Even so, it surely doesn’t hurt to take a look at the depth chart beyond the current starting five.

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More Thoughts on the Oklahoma City Opening Day Roster

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(Mandatory Credit: Michael Spomer/Cal Sports Media)

If anyone took a glance at the Oklahoma City Dodgers roster entry on the team’s official website over the weekend, they would have seen that the number of active players was holding strong at 33, letting the thought linger that a huge personnel shakeup was on the horizon before the season opener against Iowa on April 6.

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Dodgers Finally Reveal Remainder of 25-Man Roster

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The Dodgers on Thursday announced the final cuts to achieve their 25-man roster. Scott Van Slyke, Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes will remain with the team. Trayce Thompson, Chris Taylor and Julio Urias were optioned to the minor leagues, while catcher Bobby Wilson was reassigned.

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Dodgers 25-Man Roster: More Thoughts About the Starting Rotation Competition

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(Mandatory Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Heading into the weekend, skipper Dave Roberts insisted that the battle for the final two spots in the Dodgers‘ starting rotation remained open to four pitchers — Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood and Scott Kazmir. However, after Kazmir’s attempt to gain leverage in the race by facing the Rangers on Sunday, it’s probably safe to assume the competition has been narrowed to three.

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Dodgers Cactus League Notes: Kershaw, Ethier, Seager, Urías, Buehler & More

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The countdown is on — just two weeks until the Dodgers open up the season against the San Diego Padres. Clayton Kershaw will be the starter that day, but on his last start he looked less than Kershaw-like. Kersh allowed three home runs, four runs total on six hits in five innings. He also had eight strikeouts and two walks.

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Dodgers Starting Rotation: Progressions, More Predictions & Other Random Notes

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(Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

With the arrival of Opening Day now hovering right around the three week mark, much of the fan focus has steadied on the prospective starting rotation of the Dodgers, as each passing day seemingly has one small happening or event which somehow affects the future makeup of the pitching staff.

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Dodgers Spring Training Notes: Puig, González, Seager, Romo & More

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We’re now a full two weeks into Dodgers spring training and we’ve had our first glorious bat flip. In Sunday’s game, Yasiel Puig sent one out of the park, and his bat flip was in mid-season form.

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Early Signs Could Be Pointing Towards Dodgers’ Opening Day Rotation Plans

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(Mandatory Credit: Chris Carlson/Associated Press)

Five weeks is a whole lot of time. But even though there’s still more than a month of Cactus League play to help the management crew of the Dodgers answer questions about the club’s prospective 25-man roster, early revelations in camp may be indicating the current pattern of thinking when it comes to the team’s starting pitching hierarchy.

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