Venezuela has long been a hotbed of baseball activity, producing prospects in bunches. From Johan Santana, to Pablo Sandoval, to Victor Zambrano and Bobby Abreu, the list goes on and on of star-caliber Major League talent that is native to this small South American country. In Durham, North Carolina, Alex Torres is working hard to achieve the status of the aforementioned names, and if his stuff is any indicator, he is well on his way.
Despite a record of 1-3 and an ERA of 8.58, the Rays organization is infatuated with the lightning produced from Torres's left arm. With 38 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings, Torres shows the kind of swing-and-miss stuff that scouts dream of, but with 30 walks over that same span, he has proven that he still has much to learn about pitching before taking the next step.
Torres features a smooth, somewhat traditional left-handed delivery – somewhat reminiscent of the man he was traded for, Scott Kazmir. With a small step backwards, Torres keeps his hands at his chest, limiting the number of moving parts in his delivery. As he comes to a balance point over the rubber, he glides towards home plate and releases the ball with an upper-end of a three-quarters release point, and a follow through that leaves him in excellent fielding position towards home plate.
His fastball regularly sits at 93 mph and has plus movement. His curveball is simply filthy, giving hitters two tough pitches to defend. It's simply a matter of harnessing the command of those pitches that has been the issue thus far in his career.
With those command issues persisting since his acquisition from the Angels in 2009, the Rays recently decided that the best path for Torres to get to the Major Leagues would be as a relief pitcher, and though he initially struggled, he has been better of late, striking out 12 and walking just one over his last 8 innings of relief. Only time will tell if Torres is able to make the leap from prospect with suspect command to a dominant force out of the Rays pen, but with his smooth delivery and plus pitches, it will be hard for the Rays to give up on him.
Derek Levandowski is the Durham Bulls beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow Derek on Twitter at @DereksCurveball.______________________________________________________________ Subscribe to RaysDigest.com today! Only $79.95 brings you one full year of Total Access Pass and all premium content on RaysDigest.com, the Scout Player and Roster Database (including the 'Hot News' at the top of the site), Breaking News and Information, Total Access to all Scout.com Websites and Player Pages which detail the progress and careers of players from high school, college, the minors, and the pro ranks.
Sample the RaysDigest.com Total Access Pass at no risk for 7 days, then pay only $7.95 or $21.95. If you want to save 2 months off of the monthly subscription price, simply choose the annual RaysDigest.com Total Access Pass at $79.95.