Yordano Ventura was signed out of the Dominican Republic as an international free agent in October 2008 by the Kansas City Royals. Ventura is 21 years old and stands just 5’11”. During the 2012 season, Ventura enjoyed success across three levels in the Minor Leagues, and I was fortunate enough to watch him pitch for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Across three levels, Ventura pitched to a 3.62 ERA and a 10.7 K/9 as a starting pitcher. His success in the Minors led to him being selected as the starting pitcher for the World team in the Futures game last season, in which he had a perfect inning of work. He works with a three pitch mix, including a fastball, curveball and change-up. His fastball is by far his best pitch, as it is in the mid-to-upper 90s and can reach 100 mph with frequency. His fastball has good late life to it, which makes it difficult for hitters to square it up. Ventura also has a hard curveball that he uses as his best secondary pitch. The curveball has great downward action that is very tough on right-handed hitters. He can throw both his fastball and his curveball for strikes. His change-up is his weakest pitch and he will need to improve it if he is going to reach his potential as a top starting pitcher. He has a tendency to leave the change-up high in the zone, leading to it being hit hard. Mechanically, Ventura has a clean arm action in back and is able to get it into position by foot strike. He is able to create a little deception by slightly turning his back to the hitter, which also helps him keep his front side closed. As Ventura begins to drive towards home, he has a subtle hip tilt, which allows him to utilize his lower half well and generate more velocity on his fastball. Ventura currently projects as a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, but he will need to improve his secondary stuff, especially the change-up. The Royals are giving him the opportunity to develop as a starter, but with his velocity and curveball, it must be tempting to call him up early as a late inning reliever. Presently, two things hold Ventura back from being a sure starting pitcher in the Majors: his change-up and his walks. In 2012, Ventura had a 3.5 BB/9, which must come down for him to be a starter. However, the real X-factor for him becoming a starter is the change-up, which he must be able to locate in the strike zone and leave down in the zone. He is beginning the season in Double-A and I believe he will be utilized as a reliever in the Big Leagues once rosters expand in September. Long-term, Ventura should be able to be a starting pitcher and at the very least can certainly be a shut down pitcher out of the bullpen.