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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Dodgers Roster: A Quick Look at the Organizational Bullpen Depth

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When long man Alex Wood was recently shifted back into the starting rotation and righty Josh Fields was recalled to the big league bullpen, a popular topic of conversation among fans of the Dodgers was the discussion surrounding the organizational depth of relief pitchers.

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Dodgers Prospects: Catching Up with Yadier Alvarez

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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.

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Dodgers Prospects: Yadier Alvarez Turning Heads

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It’s been quite awhile since we last checked in with pitching prospect Yadier Alvarez, and although the Dodgers have been very prudent with the advancement of the 20-year-old Cuban righty, he’s still turning heads with his raw talent on the lower levels of the farm.

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Yadier Alvarez Impresses Dodgers Scouts Early

Yadier_Alvarez_sw8wqr6r_wbdf0u4l(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.

Continue reading “Yadier Alvarez Impresses Dodgers Scouts Early”

Dodgers Prospects: Scouting Yadier Álvarez

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Digging deeper into the seemingly limitless list of pitching prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, another name sure to turn heads in the very near future is Cuban righty Yadier Álvarez.

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.

Badler’s initial report of the Álvarez signing included this brief tidbit of scouting data:

“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.

(Photo Credit: hngn.com)