Quakes insanely great pitching staff just got better Cuban phenom right-hander Yadier Alvarez to join already stacked Quakes rotation

  *  *  *  UPDATE: April 17, 2017 at 10:30 am  *  *  *

It was one of those things that make you say “Huh…”

Prior to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes home opener last Thursday evening, I received a text message from my good friend David Owen, who is a huge Rancho Cucamonga Quakes fan and a member of their booster club. David and his family have also been a host family for Quakes players for the past several years. For those unfamiliar with what a host family is, they welcome players into their homes to live while away from their own homes, whether it be from another state or, in many cases, from another country while assigned to the hundreds of minor league teams – at every level – across the country.

David’s text message was short and to the point: “Yadier Alvarez is here right now in the Quakes dugout!”

At the time, I was in the press box at Loan Mart Field and immediately peered down onto the concourse. Although the press box offers a spectacular view of the stadium and entire playing field, you cannot see into the dugouts from there. As such, I was unable to see Alvarez but had absolutely no reason to doubt David.

One high-ranking baseball official called Yadier Alvarez “the best 18-year-old pitcher he had ever seen.”
(Photo courtesy of BaseballAmerica.com)

By the time that I made my way down to the field for the pregame ceremonies, Alvarez was nowhere to be seen and was not part of the pregame activities nor the player introductions. That being said, there was no logical explanation as to why the Dodgers top-ranked pitching prospect was in Rancho Cucamonga instead of at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona for extended spring training, where he had been assigned to begin the 2017 season … no reason except one, that is.

Sure enough, during Sunday afternoon’s contest between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium, the Quakes sent out a tweet confirming that one exception, thereby also confirming David’s and my suspicions.

As most Dodger fans know, Alvarez was signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2015, receiving a $16 million signing bonus that obliterated the Dodgers allotted $2 million international bonus pool limit, for which they had to pay a hefty 100 percent penalty on all money paid above their allotment. The Alvarez signing also forced a $300,000 international signing pool spending limit for the subsequent two seasons.

Was the now 21-year-old Matanzas, Cuba native worth that kind of investment and penalty?

“He’s one of the more talented teenage right-handers I think a lot of us who have been doing this for a long time have seen,” Dodgers senior vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes said at the time of the 2015 signing. “We felt like if we were going to exceed the cap, let’s make it count, get as many guys as we like as possible.”

But why was Alvarez so expensive and what makes him one of the best young right-handers many have ever seen?

“Alvarez has a fastball that touches 98 mph with a plus-slider and an above-average changeup,” wrote MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez back in February of 2015. “He threw in front of 70 local scouts in the Dominican Republic earlier this month and starred in a large showcase with [Hector] Olivera last week, prompting one high-ranking National League official to say Alvarez was the best 18-year-old pitcher he had ever seen. Alvarez is raw and could use some polish, particularly with his command, but he’s young and has time on his side.”

Alvarez joins a Quakes team that is already chock full of the Dodgers top pitching prospects, including but not limited to 2015 first-round draft pick Walker Buehler, 2016 second-rounder Mitchell White, 2016 14th-rounder Dean Kremer, 2014 38th-rounder Caleb Ferguson and fellow international free agent signee Dennis Santana.

To this point in the young 2017 season only Mitchell White has pitched into the fifth inning and only once. As such, and because the current Dodgers brass is very big on limiting the innings of their star young prospects, you can bet the farm that Alvarez will also be on a very strict pitch count with the Cal League South first place Quakes.

So when can Quakes fans expect to see Alvarez make his first appearance in a Quakes uniform, having been in town for nearly a week? Although there has been no official word from the Quakes or Dodgers yet, there is this from the Quakes official website for Monday night’s game against the Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies) at the Hangar in Lancaster:

Just sayin.

 

  *  *  *  UPDATE: April 17, 2017 at 10:30 am  *  *  *

Source confirms that Yadier Alvarez will indeed make his Cal League debut for the Quakes on Monday night against the Lancaster JetHawks at The Hangar in Lancaster. First pitch scheduled for 6:35 pm PT.

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3 Responses to “Quakes insanely great pitching staff just got better Cuban phenom right-hander Yadier Alvarez to join already stacked Quakes rotation

  1. Bluenose Dodger says:

    It doesn’t get much better than this. One expects that Buehler, White and Alvarez will see time in Tulsa in 2017.

    Dennis Santana is an interesting guy. Not usually mentioned with the bigger name prospects but he is talented. He was the workhorse on the Loons staff last year.

  2. SoCalBum says:

    The depth of quality pitching prospects in the Dodgers organization is staggering.

  3. Ron Cervenka says:

    Confirmed.

    Yadier Alvarez will indeed make his Cal League debut for the Quakes on Monday night against the Lancaster JetHawks at The Hangar in Lancaster. First pitch scheduled for 6:35 pm PT.

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