Tigers Prospect Profile: Michael Torrealba

A young right-hander out of Venezuela, Michael Torrealba stepped up as the season went on for the West Michigan Whitecaps, emerging as the club's closer and posting outstanding numbers. What sort of pitcher is Torrealba, and what does the future hold for him?

Michael Torrealba
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 5-11
Weight: 200
Born: 11/19/1989
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
The Tigers jumped on Torrealba early in the 2006 international signing period, getting his name on a contract just two days after the period opened on July 2nd. Torrealba signed for a modest bonus and was set to make his professional debut in 2007.

Pitching in the Venezuelan Summer League during both his age 17 and 18 seasons, Torrealba posted ERAs of 5.06 and 2.06, respectively. Over those two seasons, Torrealba demonstrated an improved walk rate and saw a sizeable jump in his strikeout rate.

Brought stateside for the 2009 season, Torrealba saw action in 23 games for the Oneonta Tigers with 44 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings while walking 18 and allowing only 24 hits.

Back in the NYPL for part of the 2010 season, Torrealba dominated with a 1.83 ERA and 24 strikeouts in only 19 2/3 innings. During that time, he allowed only 12 hits and seven walks.

Torrealba also saw time with High-A Lakeland in 2010. He struggled to a 5.32 ERA as he allowed 24 hits in 22 innings despite giving up just four walks and striking out 20 hitters.

The Tigers allowed Torrealba to settle in with West Michigan in 2011 and his performance was outstanding. In 81 innings for the Whitecaps, Torrealba collected nine saves and a 5-3 record as he cruised to a 2.22 ERA and 89 strikeouts.

Scouting Report
Physically, Torrealba doesn't pass the eye test for some scouts. He's shorter than many scouts prefer for right-handers and he lacks the broad shoulders or plus athleticism that would cause evaluators to ignore his raw size.

What Torrealba does have is above-average to plus arm speed. His arm gets through his delivery cleanly and very quickly. Though there is some effort in his delivery I have yet to find a scout that believes it will be a long term concern for him.

With his quick arm and natural strength, Torrealba can consistently work his fastball in the 88-92 mph range. I have seen him as high as 94 mph in short bursts, but he clearly reached back for more and wasn't able to find the zone when he got that high on the gun.

At 88-92, Torrealba's fastball features decent movement, varying between some cut and some sink, depending on grip and/or finger pressure. Despite the lack of physical projection, there are some scouts that have seen him in 2011 that do believe he could see a tick up in his fastball, possibly sitting in the 90-93 range as he completely matures.

A two-pitch guy, Torrealba offers a curveball that he will throw in any count. He has confidence in his lone secondary pitch and it shows some promise. At West Michigan, Torrealba was able to induce hitters to swing at it out of the strike zone, but he will have to improve his consistency to maintain that success at higher levels.

Torrealba's biggest developmental area remains his ability to command his arsenal. He presently lacks the ability to locate his breaking ball, and he not only frequently battles his ability to throw quality strikes, but he will also show an inability to find the strike zone on occasion.

All told, Torrealba's ultimate projection remains a bit of an open question among scouts. Most scouts fail to see more than a middle reliever, while a couple of scouts were willing to suggest he could end up as a secondary setup reliever or setup man. With that limited ceiling,

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

AVG

A

West Michigan

5-3

2.22

43

1

9

89

33

81.0

.230


Health Record
Torrealba has not been injured during his professional career.

The Future
After a successful season at West Michigan, Torrealba has positioned himself for what has become a common promotion pattern among relievers. He seems all but locked into a spot in the Lakeland bullpen to start the 2012 season, and his performance could push him to Double-A Erie before the season closes.

Having only pitched at Low-A, and still demonstrating a high degree of required development, the Tigers can likely sneak Torrealba through the Rule 5 process for a second year. If that happens, the 2012 season will be a critical opportunity for Torrealba to establish himself as a prospect worth protecting.

With a relatively low MLB ceiling, Torrealba will need to see one of his tools step forward in a significant way to really give him a chance to crack an MLB bullpen. If he improves in 2012, he could be in a position to earn that trial as early as mid-season 2013.

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