The Kansas City Royals have officially called up top pitching prospect Yordano Ventura, the team announced via Twitter. Ventura is set to make his first big league start in Tuesday's matchup against the division rival Cleveland Indians.
RHP Yordano Ventura will make his Major League debut tomorrow night in a start vs. Cleveland.— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) September 16, 2013
Ventura, who the Royals signed out of the Dominican Republic for $28,000 in the summer of 2008, stands at just 5'11", a relatively short stature for a starting pitcher. Despite his size, Ventura has outstanding raw stuff, with a fastball that routinely reaches the triple digits and a curveball that projects as a plus pitch. He is also developing a change-up, a pitch that some prospect mavens believe could develop into a "plus-plus monster."
Due to his outstanding potential, Ventura has shot up prospect lists over the past couple of years. Entering the season, many saw Ventura as a top 100 prospect, with Baseball Prospectus ranking him 62nd in the minors, and Baseball America ranking him 85th overall. However, in Baseball America's recent midseason update, Ventura saw his ranking rise significantly to 26th overall, two spots ahead of fellow Royals farmhand Kyle Zimmer, who many saw as the superior pitcher entering the season.
Statistically, Ventura has been phenomenal over the past two years. In 2012, he posted a 3.62 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 109.1 innings split between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. This year, he has been even better, putting together a 3.14 ERA with 155 strikeouts in just over 134 innings for Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.
Ventura will be starting in place of the injured Danny Duffy, who's start has been pushed back due to a mild flexor strain in his forearm. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler notes that there is a real possibility that Duffy could be shut down for the remainder of the season.
The 24 year old Duffy underwent Tommy John surgery in June of 2012, and has only recently made it back to Kansas City. The lefty has been outstanding in 5 starts for the Royals this season, compiling a 1.85 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 24.1 innings. Despite his limited playing time, Duffy has already accrued a WAR of 0.9. In support of the Royals' organization, Duffy tweeted this out earlier today:
Dont sweat it, you guys. Youngblood is gonna get it done tomorrow. Glad to have this organization looking out for me. Im good.— Danny Duffy (@DannyDuffy805) September 16, 2013