It’s rare to see a fan base put their hopes on the shoulders of a 22 year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic, who’s only pitched 15 1/3 innings in Major League Baseball.
What’s even more rare is a starting pitcher throwing an average of 95 MPH through six shutout innings. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you; Yordano Ventura did just that (and a whole lot more) in his 2014 season debut.
Ventura has been the talk of the baseball world, early this wek, as he broke the record for the fastest pitch ever recorded by the MLB’s Pitch f/x system, when he clocked in at 102.9 during the top of the sixth inning, last night, against the Rays’ Wil Meyers, according to Brooks Baseball.
Whose record did he break in the process, though? You guessed it. Ventura had previously reached 102 MPH in his big league debut, on September 17th, 2013, against the Cleveland Indians.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. During last night’s game at Kauffman, 65 percent of Ventura’s pitches were strikes. In 95 pitches, the Royals’ ace gave up just two hits, while allowing no runs and no walks.
In the past, some questioned his ability to be efficient enough to make it into the later innings of games, but he has apparently put that behind him.
Of course, Ventura was throwing an impressive fastball, but it was his other pitches that made his performance that much more impressive. During his time in the minor leagues, Ventura often relied on his curve ball as a go-to second pitch, but last night he threw an equal amount of change-ups (19), as he did curves.
Of the 19 change-ups he threw, 14 were strikes, and they averaged a speed of 89 MPH. And while he didn’t show his usual command of the curve ball, he still threw a number of really good ones.
As the game went on, the speed of his pitches began to drop a little. Ventura saved the best for last though, when he uncorked the 102.9 MPH ball, while facing the last batter he would see on the night. And even though the Royals would go on to lose 1-0, Yordano Ventura’s outing was nothing short of spectacular.
Ventura played extremely well in what turned out to be a game highlighted by great defense and even better pitching. He mixed his pitches extremely well, and even managed to calm his nerves, after a slightly shaky first inning.
Going into the rest of the season, expectations have never been higher for the same pitcher who had to battle for the final spot in Kansas City’s rotation.
Connnor Moyland of Royals Review may have said it best when he wrote:
“Nothing about the Royals changed after the game was over, and it didn’t count in the standings. Watching his performance, however, helped awaken a dormant feeling of hope inside of me that just maybe, possibly, this season and this pitcher will be different.”
So whether you prefer to call him “Lil’ Pedro” or “Ace Ventura”, I think we can all agree on one thing: Yordano Ventura has an insanely bright future, here in Kansas City.