On Wednesday the Tampa Bay Rays promoted left-handed pitcher Jose Alvarado to the major league roster. He made his major league debut later that day against the Miami Marlins and was hit hard, giving up two hits and three runs in an inning of work, but Alvarado’s youth and physical potential merit plenty of patience. Let’s take a quick look.
Jose Alvarado was signed by the Rays as a free agent from Venezuela in 2012. He spent two years in the Venezuelan Summer League then spent two years in rookie ball without distinguishing himself as a starter. In 2016 he converted to the bullpen and improved dramatically, posting a 3.06 ERA between Low-A and High-A with an 85/55 K/BB in 71 innings.
Alvarado rated as a Grade C prospect pre-season and was not ranked among the Rays Top 20 prospects on the 2017 list due to concerns about his command. He opened 2017 with Double-A Montgomery, posting a 2.38 ERA in 11.1 innings with a 14/5 K/BB and only four hits allowed. He is more advanced than I thought over the winter and I’d give him a C+ now.
Listed at 6-0, 240, Alvarado was born May 21, 1995. He throws very hard, 96-99 MPH with his fastball, and will mix in a low-to-mid-80s power curve. Poor control prevented consistent success as a starter but he’s been more effective in shorter stints out of the bullpen. The strikeouts aren’t lying; his stuff is clearly plus, but it remains to be seen if his command will develop to the point where he can be more than a middle man.
A key factor: he’s only 21. Given his mature body he is not a projectable sort but he already throws plenty hard and still has time to work out his command issues.