It's almost Ventura Time!
Which might not mean anything to a non-Royals fan. But thanks to an injury or two, Royals prospect Yordano Ventura is making his major-league debut Tuesday night, against the Indians in a game that's absolutely critical for the Royals' tenuous playoff hopes. Here's Jim Callis with a scouting report:
Though he’s only 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Ventura regularly works in the upper 90s and can run his fastball up to 102 mph. That’s a far cry from the mid-80s heater he showed when he signed out of the Dominican Republic for a mere $28,000 in 2008. He generates his velocity with an incredibly quick arm, and he has earned the nickname “Lil’ Pedro” because of his size and fastball.
... If the Royals weren’t contending, they likely wouldn’t have called him up because of his workload, age (22) and the lack of any reason to add him to the 40-man roster or start his service-time clock ticking at this point.
But Kansas City is making a push for the playoffs, so we’ll get an earlier look at Ventura than we would have otherwise. And after having trouble developing rotation help, the Royals may have a pair of frontline starters on their hands in the near future in Kyle Zimmer and Ventura.
The Royals haven't developed a consistently starting pitcher since Zack Greinke came up in 2004. It's not easy to go for nearly a decade without one of those guys, but they've done it. The odds are against Ventura and Zimmer, of course, just because that's how things are with young pitchers.
But Ventura's here, and Zimmer -- the club's No. 1 draft pick last year -- has tremendous stuff and posted a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the (mostly low) minors this season. Wouldn't it be funny if both of these guys actually pan out, and the Royals didn't need James Shields or Wade Davis after all?