by John Viril—
Finally, something is going right for the Kansas City Royals. After a horrendous month of May which saw both the major league club and most top prospects fall flat on their collective faces, we have a bit of good news. Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura was just promoted to AAA and dominated in Omaha’s Thursday 2-1 victory over Oklahoma City.
After giving up a walk, two singles, and one run in the first inning, Ventura slammed the door for the next four. Overall, he surrendered 1 run in 5.0 IP with 6 strikeouts and 4 walks. While 4 walks are not ideal, Ventura’s stuff seemed just as dominating at AAA as it has been throughout his minor-league career. Though he failed to get the win because Omaha did not score until the 9th, international signee Yordano Ventura is one of the organization’s bright spots in a dismal season. In 62.2 IP in 2013, Ventura has an outstanding 2.30 ERA and 80 strikeouts.
Yordano Ventura has come a long way in the last two years. His 5-11 frame has filled out from 140 to 180 pounds, easing concerns he doesn’t have the durability to handle regular starts in MLB. He has advanced four levels and now appears ready for a September call-up to Kansas City. Ventura will likely make a rotation bid in 2014—presuming he continues his success in Omaha.
Yordano Ventura still has some work to do before he’s ready for a MLB rotation spot. His 3.4 BB/9 at AA is a little higher than you would like, but his 10.2 K/9 more than makes up for the shortcoming.The most innings he has pitched in a season is the 109.1 he compiled between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas in 2012. His managers have routinely pulled him well before hitting 100 pitches in order to protect his arm, including removing him after 87 pitches Thursday night. Ventura has pitched 62.2 innings this season and will likely need to be shut down at around 150.
Despite his flaws, Ventura is the one Royals pitching prospect who appears poised to realize his top-of-the-rotation potential. With Kansas City ace James Shields only under team control through the 2014, the Royals badly need Ventura’s triple digit fastball in their rotation as soon as possible.
Let’s just hope that Dayton Moore’s Royals can finally develop a player to his full potential.