Despite making his major league debut late last season, and starting just three games, Yordano Ventura was considered a top candidate for the No. 5 spot in the Kansas City Royals’ starting rotation entering the spring. A strong showing in Cactus League play (1.76 ERA, 15:1 K/BB ratio), including six shutout innings on Monday night, has cemented his place in Kansas City’s rotation to start the season. But is Ventura ready to emerge as a good option for fantasy baseball owners this year?
A look at Ventura’s minor league track record shows a top-level strike out pitcher, with a 10.4 K/9 rate last season and a 9.9 K/9 rate for his career (415.1 innings). He posted a 3.5 BB/9 rate in the minors and during his brief time with the Royals last season, which is higher than what would be considered ideal, but Ventura can still improve his control at age 22 while maintaining a high strikeout total.
Ventura’s lack of major league experience is a concern, with only last season’s three starts and 15.1 innings under his belt, but that could work to his advantage early in the season since most American League hitters have not seen him. He is also a smaller pitcher (5’11” 180 lbs.), which creates some injury risk with a potential spike in innings pitched this year.
Ventura should now be on the radar of AL-only league owners as a potential late-round pick, but I think he is only draftable in the deepest mixed leagues. When we look back on his 2014 season a best-case scenario looks like 10-12 wins with an ERA between 3.00 and 3.50, along with a lot of strikeouts, but Ventura’s future is very bright and he is a great option in keeper leagues.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.