Results tagged ‘ Northwest Arkansas Naturals ’
Prospect Q&A: Royals Righty Yordano Ventura — MLB.com’s No. 59 Farmhand — on Being Pequeño Pedro, Más
Yordano Ventura sat at home in Samana, his town in the baseball-crazy Dominican Republic, and watched every start made by Pedro Martinez, the countryman gone on to fame and Cy Young awards. So it’s no wonder Ventura, a Royals farmhand and MLB.com’s No. 59 overall prospect (bio, stats here) entering the 2013 season, welcomed the moniker Pequeño Pedro.
Now that Ventura has filled out his 5-foot-11 frame and throws a fastball that hits triple digits on the radar gun, however, he implies that you can alter his nickname to Grande Pedro. Simply Yordano will do fine, too. The way he pitches at age 21, he could be one of the few ballplayers who goes by one name only. That’s what happened with his idol anyway.
I caught up with Ventura on Thursday afternoon. He is in Arizona, on the Major League side of Spring Training, getting ready for his fifth pro season. Here’s what he had to say his native language. (Thanks to the Royals’ multilingual Bruce Chen, one part veteran left-hander one part stand-up comic, for interpreting Ventura’s Spanish.)
On his Spring Training highlights so far: “The quality of the players that I have been facing, and the older, experienced players that I have learned from and been around. I have been watching the older pitchers, [Ervin] Santana and Bruce Chen., and learning from the way they have been pitching.”
On his mindset competing for a spot /ending up at Double-A Northwest Arkansas: “I just want to keep working hard so that when the Royals when give me the opportunity to be in the big leagues, I can a very good job.”
On his two scoreless innings last Sunday: “I was very happy because I got to face some really good hitters, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, and that gave me a lot of confidence to keep working hard to keep getting better. When I got on the mound, the first batter I faced was Joey Votto, so I said to myself, ‘God help me.’”
On the development of his pitches in camp: “I feel like my repertoire has been very good. I have been trying to keep the ball down. My breaking ball has been very good, and I’m working on a sinker, which I think is coming along very well.”
On how long he’s been learning the sinker: “I have been throwing the sinker for two months now. Whenever the batter is waiting for a four-seam fastball and throw it, I can get the batter to break his bat, [induce] a ground ball or get him out instead of going all four-seamers.”
Christian Colon is not going to be the star some envisioned he might be when the Royals snagged him with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 Draft.
But Colon is going to be a good one.
Now Kansas City’s No. 10 prospect, the 23-year-old infielder overcame some freakish injuries in 2012 (he broke his toe stepping on a bat early in the season and fouled a ball off his face late) but still composed a .301/.376/.413 slash line in 85 games across three levels. Colon (bio, stats here) finished ’12 at Triple-A Omaha and may resume playing there should he not win a Royals roster spot next month. He’s a strong fielder — better at second than he is at shortstop — with a strong bat and could be a part of K.C.’s winning ways this decade.
Here is a gallery of Colon in every uni he’s donned to date. Click on any picture to begin the slideshow. For all past editions of Prospect Uniformed, head here.
Editor’s note: Lost and Found is an offseason series in which one underrated prospect from each of the 30 MLB clubs will be discussed in a short, snappy post.
Lost: Christian Colon was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 Draft (out of baseball powerhouse Cal-State Fullerton) and was perceived to be Kansas City’s shortstop of the future. Then he was promoted (aggressively, I might add) to play his first full season in the Texas League, where hitters say that while 1) the ballparks and weather are hitter-friendly, 2) the repetition of opponents makes the circuit a constant series of adjustments against advanced pitching.
2011: .257 AVG, .325 OBP, 24 XBH, 17 SB in 127 G at Double-A Northwest Arkansas
Found: With expectations lowered, the not-so-toolsy Colon returned to the TL, overcame two freak injuries (injuring his foot while stepping on a bat and fouled a ball off his face) before finishing the campaign at Triple-A Omaha.
2012: .301 AVG, .376 OBP, 21 XBH, 13 SBs in 85 G across three levels
So Colon was lost, now he is found. Now, about the Royals’ returns: Colon will be 24 a week after Opening Day 2013, when he will likely be back at Omaha, one hot streak/trade/injury from making his Major League debut. And while the righty-hitting, righty-throwing Puerto Rico native won’t be a star, he can definitely be a productive star-ter. That’s more than we could say 12 months ago.
One of the things you will get from this blog is the baseball gods’ honest truth. Here comes a small dose: I do not have a scouting background. I have a reporting background. So when I read something like Mike Newman’s smart analysis of Bubba Starling’s “lengthy” swing on Fangraphs, I ask around. I can see on video what Newman or a pro scout might explain to be a “hitchy load,” but something like that would be harder to identify on my own. I have not been trained to scout. I have been trained to report.
Which brings me to Royals assistant general manager J.J. Piccolo, whom I interviewed for MiLB.com’s annual, team-by-team Organization All-Stars piece this week. (Look for that piece and others like it here.) I asked Piccolo about the swing mechanics of his organization’s best two prospects: Starling and another righty-hitting outfielder well ahead of him developmentally. That would be Wil Myers, of course.
Myers in the Minors in 2012: .314 AVG, 26 2B, 6 3B, 37 HR, 109 RBI, 140 K in 522 ABs spanning 134 G split between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha
Piccolo review of Myers’ mechanics: ”It’s an awkward stance. He’s upright and open, but he has an incredible hand speed and hand-eye coordination and hits the ball as hard as anyone. The ball off his bat has a different sound.”
Starling in the Minors in 2012: .273 AVG, 8 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 70 K in 200 ABs spanning 53 G at Rookie-level Burlington (he also racked up about 150 at-bats in extended spring training before being assigned to the Appalachian League)
Piccolo review of Starling’s mechanics: ”The strikeout totals are something we need to work on. I don’t think he’s ever going to be low-strikeout guy, so he needs to recognize the situations when contact is necessary. He made a lot of improvement overall, made a minor adjustment in his stance, with his setup. He tends to move the bat a lot, so his barrel will drop some, which leads to a longer swing. He needs to be in a better hitting position with his swing, so his bat is in a good position to hit the ball. He tends to get sweepy [sic] with his swing — he does that maybe only 10 percent of the time, but that could be 50 percent of his at-bats [in the future].”
Comparisons are unfair. Someone always gets slighted. But I love comparisons. (When a scout starts to sentence with, “I don’t like making comparisons, but this guy could be the next…”, a noticeable amount of moisture gathers at the corners of my mouth.)
This one might be more of a contrast: Starling, the third overall pick in 2010, is not the natural hitter that Myers, a third-rounder in 2009, is and the guess here is that he never will be. But it is very interesting to look at these two players and their burgeoning careers, even if one is three years behind the other.
For instance, Myers began his first full season in 2010, where Starling just finished his: with the Rookie-level B-Royals. How did he fare there? Let’s put his numbers right alongside Starling’s to — yes — compare:
Myers: .289 AVG, 19 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 48 BB, 55 K in 242 ABs spanning 68 G
Starling: .273 AVG, 8 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 28 BB, 70 K in 200 ABs spanning 53 G
Doesn’t look like that big of a difference, until you notice Myers struck out 15 fewer times in 15 more games. That is a big even if the sample size is not.
Now, we know what Myers went on to, becoming the Minor League leader in home runs and one of the best hitting prospects yet to appear in a big league ballgame. We don’t know where Starling will end up, if he can make adjustments to his swing along the way. This should all be kept in mind when discussing — and comparing — two Kansas City kids who are destined to be compared and discussed.
Oh, and one other thing: Myers may be the better hitter, but Starling is the superior outfielder.