Alex Torres’ Big Night
Alex Torres’ performance last night landed him on the Prospect Hot Sheet:
Working with a fastball, changeup and curveball, the Venezuela native has continued to fool batters, tying a career high with 12 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings on Thursday. Torres has fanned more than a batter an inning during his minor league career, ranking second in the International League with 84 strikeouts over 75 2/3 innings.
Staying true to his school, Torres also walked three batters on the evening, which marked his 14th start of the season. Torres has only managed to walk one or fewer batters in three of his starts, and has issued four-plus free passes on five occasions—including starts where he walked six and seven batters.
I haven’t seen much of Torres outside of a spring outing, but from the reports I have read and heard, it seems like I have a decent grip on what he like to do with his curveball—that being use it, a lot. This gives some credence to a pet theory I have about curveball-heavy pitchers in the minors, although I have no way to test it, I do recall a few pitchers saying major league umpires are bad at calling the curve for a strike. If that is the case, then I cannot imagine minor league umpires are any better since ostensibly they are in the minors for a reason.
If Torres is being hurt by poor umpiring, then maybe you can discount the gargantuan walk totals a little, but at the same time, you wonder why he hasn’t adjusted. Perhaps the Rays have instilled in him to work on the curveball, but if he isn’t getting the calls, eventually you have to change the game plan. Torres’ delivery doesn’t help his control issues much, but altering his mechanics should be a last resort—one that could have irreversible effects, and not in a good way.
Everyone likes Torres more than Cobb for the obvious stuff reasons. It seems like whatever Torres throws, it moves in violent manners, and despite his small stature, he has middle of the rotation upside or perhaps a bit more if everything goes right. Still, there are some legitimate concerns about Torres’ game right now, as whispers persist that he tends to nibble. It’s a similar verdict given to Andrew Miller, who is still working through those issues as he pitches in the major leagues with his third team in five seasons.
Adam Sosbey’s report on Torres’ game last night touched on the issue, and pointed out some anecdotal evidence that could be a turning point. Alternatively, it could be nothing shy of a tease, just as those first two starts in Triple-A, when he walked nobody, appear to be now.