When you spend $16 million on an international amateur free agent, you hope to see some kind of results early in the process that give you a glimmer of hope for the future. The Los Angeles Dodgers received that beacon of sunshine yesterday when Yadier Alvarez was on the mound on the back fields.
The 19-year old right-hander, whom Baseball America rates as the tenth best prospect in the Dodgers organization, is 6-foot-3 and 175-pounds. He’s able to use his long, wiry frame to generate fantastic arm speed with a completely free-and-easy delivery. That delivery was on display Saturday afternoon.
Alvarez used a loose, whippy arm to generate lively fastballs that started out in the low-90s and eventually built to the mid-90s before touching 99 mph near his outing’s end. He coupled the pitch with a low-80s slider that garnered swings and misses as well.
A starting pitcher who can touch 99 miles per hour while throwing a very good wipeout slider? Sign me up! Now, there is some talk that the team doesn’t know what Alvarez is yet. He could be a starter, but he could also be a highly functional reliever due to his great two-pitch repertoire right now.
Either way, the talent is there. And, in the two innings that he pitched on Saturday afternoon, Alvarez struck out two batters and only had one ball leave the infield at all. The Dodgers have worked on Alvarez’s delivery a little bit in order to help fix some command issues, and it seems to have helped.
The sky could be the limit for the talented Cuban import, and the Dodgers certainly do hope that’s the case since they plan on him being a fixture in the future. He has the talent, the ability, and the organization to make it possible. We’ll see if he ever puts it all together, but the early results are sensational.