Get to know this year’s foreign imports: Yadier Alvarez

By some accounts, 19-year-old Cuban right-handed pitcher Yadier Alvarez is the best prospect available on the international market during the July 2 signing period. The Dodgers are projected to sign him to a $16 million deal. So, let’s get to know this young fireballer.

Unlike former Cuban signees around baseball, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding Alvarez. He was a pop-up prospect during one of Hector Olivera‘s showcases (Olivera did not face Alvarez, though) and had never pitched in Cuba’s top professional league. But he wowed scouts enough to make him one of the best prospects available. The last time the Dodgers took a risk on a Cuban player around whom there was some mystery, it worked out pretty well (Yasiel Puig).

Alvarez has a legitimate mid-90s fastball (93-96 MPH, T98), a slider that flashes plus-potential and a changeup that is above-average. The biggest thing with Alvarez is his command. It’s hardly refined and will need some cleaning up in the pro ranks. Here’s what Kiley McDaniel wrote about Alvarez.

“While the command isn’t all the way there yet, he’s only 18 with new velocity that he’s still adjusting to, while the delivery, arm, frame and athleticism are all solid to very good with some flashes of feel to pitch already.

He projects as a starter, but the risk here is due to the uncertainty. Alvarez has been throwing this hard for less than a year, scouts haven’t seen him go deep into games or face high end minor league hitters. Sometimes young arms with velo spiking develop injuries or simply can’t command it and we haven’t seen enough to know if this sort of thing will happen to Alvarez. He checks all the boxes for a pitcher of this age and you’d obviously like to see more than what scouts have seen, but that’s the way this market works and Alvarez will get paid even with little track record.”

There were kids chosen in the MLB Draft almost a month ago who have similar profiles, so I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about his flaws.

He is 6’3, 175 pounds and has a lot of projectability. Maybe not when it comes to velocity, but he has the frame to add good weight and durability to remain a starting pitcher.

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Overall, his delivery needs a little cleaning up. He kind of whips his arm toward the plate when he pitches. I’m not sure how much that can be altered, but everything else checks out. The only other thing I’d like to see is for him to incorporate his lower-half a little more. He has long legs and once he adds some weight, his lower-half could help in terms of his stamina and durability.

The higher-ups in the organization have seen this kid, and the scouting department has done its homework on him. Alvarez already has a maturity about himself that we could very well see him in the majors by 2017 (as a 21-year-old). I’m not sure the Dodgers will be that aggressive with him, but they have been somewhat aggressive with Julio Urias, who was a unique case to be sure.

The Dodgers are going to go nuts starting Thursday, and Alvarez will be the biggest prize they land (save for any Cuban players who declare later in the year).

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.