Name: Kelvin Vasquez
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: April 4, 1993 (19)
Acquired: 2011 International Free Agent (Dominican Republic)
When the Texas Rangers signed Kelvin Vasquez out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, the right-hander didn't have any prior experience on the mound.
Growing up in San Pedro de Macoris, a city often referred to as "the cradle of shortstops," Vasquez played shortstop himself as a youngster. Currently listed at 6-foot-4, 186 pounds, he remained a middle infielder until early 2011, when he began working in the outfield in hopes of getting signed by a professional club.
Although Vasquez spent much of his age-16 year eligible to sign with a team, he was passed over as both an infielder and outfielder. At one point in 2011, the Rangers brought him into their Dominican Republic complex for a series of tryouts. While there, Vasquez showed a decent swing in batting practice but consistently struggled to hit against live pitching.
The Rangers weren't particularly interested in Vasquez's bat after watching him. They were, however, intrigued by the arm he flashed from right field. The club inked Vasquez prior to the DSL season that year as a conversion project, moving him to the mound immediately upon signing.
As it turned out, Vasquez adjusted to the mound quite well from the outset. He made a brief cameo in 2011, logging 16.2 innings while working mostly in relief.
The prospect took a big step forward last season, when he repeated the Dominican Summer League. Making 16 appearances (13 starts) in the DSL last season, Vasquez posted a 3.42 ERA. Over 55.1 innings, he yielded 56 hits, walked only 15, and struck out 51. The right-hander pitched well enough to earn an invitation to the Rangers' fall instructional league in Arizona following the campaign.
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Fastball: Standing 6-foot-4, 186 pounds, Vasquez has a starter's frame with good actions and a smooth delivery given his age and overall lack of experience on the mound––the 2012 season was his first full year as a pitcher. The right-hander isn't a standout athlete, but he's not a stiff either and threw strikes last summer. He should be able to repeat his delivery and show at least average command down the line.
While pitching in short bursts at fall instructional league this offseason, Vasquez threw his fastball between 88-94 mph and showed control that one scout described as "good enough for his age." His velocity sat in a similar range during the Dominican Summer League campaign but did reach the mid-90s on occasion. His inexperience and frame may help produce a slight tick more velocity at full maturity; turning 20 in April, he likely won't see a big jump.
Other Pitches: The 19-year-old shows the ability to spin a breaking ball, but it's inconsistent at present. Thrown between 77-80 mph, the offering has good tilt but can get loose at times. One scout called it "fair" and "good enough for the lower levels," while also noting that he "needs to tighten it up to take the next step as a prospect." Vasquez's changeup progressed during the course of last season; he showed a rudimentary feel for it at instructs. He throws the change for strikes but must add some depth/sink to it––it lacks plus life. Neither of Vasquez's secondary pitches are particularly close to plus right now, but both show hints of average potential.
Projection: Still relatively new to pitching, Vasquez was an outfielder before converting to the mound when signing with the Rangers in 2011. The early returns are promising, but he'll need to make some jumps to prove he can be an impact guy as he climbs the organizational ladder. Vasquez has the good frame, and his fastball is a potential plus pitch. He must refine the secondaries and continue showing that he can throw strikes and command his arsenal. If he's able to develop three usable offerings, Vasquez could be a back-end starter––though he's a long way from actualizing that. If not, the club may throw him in the bullpen and see how his fastball plays up.
2013 Outlook: Coming off a strong season as a starting pitcher in the Dominican Summer League, Vasquez will make his state-side debut in 2013. He'll begin the year at extended spring training, competing for a rotation spot in either the rookie Arizona League or short-season A Northwest League. The 19-year-old will work as a starting pitcher this year, and his mid-summer destination will be determined by his spring training and extended spring development and performance.
|2011||DSL Rangers (DSL)||0-1||16.2||20||7||10||3.24|
|2012||DSL Rangers (DSL)||2-3||55.1||56||15||51||3.42|