Royals scratch Danny Duffy because of elbow soreness; top prospect Yordan Ventura to replace him

Yordano Ventura - Norm Hall

Meet Yordano Ventura. You'll probably be seeing a lot of him over the next few years.

Last night the Royals announced that Danny Duffy, tonight's scheduled starter, will be scratched because of elbow soreness, and in his place will start Yordano Ventura. As the Indians have never faced him (this being his MLB debut, no one else has, either), I thought it useful to type up some background information.

Yordano Ventura (22 years old) was signed by the Royals as an 18-year-old in 2009 from the Dominican Republic. Usually the top prospects in the DR get signed a couple years earlier than that, but I'm guessing his size had a lot to with his late signing. Ventura is only 5'11", very short for a right-handed pitcher, and usually those pitchers are thrown into the bullpen. But Ventura's stuff has improved to the point where he may be able to stick in a major-league rotation. Ventura has a fastball that sits in the mid-upper 90s, and at times has been clocked above 100 mph. His main secondary pitch is his curve, and he has changeup that's not as polished.

As I read through the various scouting reports and information, the more Ventura sounds like Kansas City's version of Danny Salazar (minus the Tommy John surgery). Like Salazar, Ventura is a pitcher with a slight build but fantastic stuff, and like Salazar, Ventura is essentially a two-pitch pitcher right now. But he has the stuff to get away with that for now, and if he can become that true three-pitch pitcher, the sky's the limit for him.

Ventura didn't dominate AAA like Salazar did, at times struggling with command, which shows in the walk/hit rates. His AAA ratios: 9.4 H/9, 9.5 SO/9, 3.9 BB/9. I'd expect the Indians to try to make Ventura get in the strike zone tonight, and in their first at-bats try to see as many pitches as possible. When a club hasn't seen a pitcher before, the advantage is very much with the pitcher, as recently shown when they were dominated by Minnesota's Andrew Albers. Ventura is a much different pitcher than Albers of course, but the principle still applies.

The minor-league game logs say that Ventura hasn't pitched since August 29th, but that has to be incorrect, as Omaha just won the PCL championship a couple of days ago. The Duffy story above mentions that he last pitched on Wednesday, and he pitched well, going 6 innings and allowing just one run on three hits. So the Indians will have their work cut out for him, assuming Ventura doesn't get any debut jitters.

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