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Futures Game Preview: The World Pitchers

This is my final Futures Game preview, before Dave Cameron and I head to California to get a look at these players. Previously, I have written about the World offense, and the United States team, both offense and pitching staff. Today, we close with the World pitching staff.

Henderson Alvarez | RHP | Age 20 | Toronto Blue Jays | High-A (FSL)
18.7 K% | 5.2 BB% | 0.6 HR/9 | 1.64 GO/AO

What an inning will look like: Alvarez is going to come out firing his sinking fastball, which he commands well, and now can enter the mid-90s with. The far more interesting development will be his secondary pitches: a guy allowing a batting line of .364/.423/.486 to left-handed hitters surely has work to do on his changeup, and he’s never received raves for his breaking ball.

What he profiles as: Right now, it’s a reliever. There’s a lot of value in a guy that brings velocity, sink, and command, and if we see a velocity spike on Sunday — really the first time the Blue Jays will have seen him in that capacity — it could plant a seed in their head. Before that decision is made, though, they’ll continue to work on his offspeed stuff.

Simon Castro | RHP | Age 22 | San Diego Padres | Double-A (Texas)
24.4 K% | 7.7 BB% | 0.4 HR/9 | 1.36 GO/AO

This has been a bit of a weird season for Castro. On May 23, his ERA stood at 1.75, his GO/AO ratio was 2.18, his K/9 was 7.19, and he had allowed three home runs in 51 innings. Since then, Castro hasn’t been bad, but he’s been different: a 4.24 ERA, 0.63 GO/AO, more than a strikeout per inning and just one homer allowed in 34 innings.

The real Castro is something far closer to the latter version: a true flyball pitcher with swing-and-miss stuff. This is hardly a bad thing when you profile to pitch at PETCO Park, as he’ll definitely see an up-tick in his HR/FB numbers when he moves past Double-A. I can’t wait to see him and his slider on Sunday.

Jeurys Familia | RHP | Age 20 | New York Mets | High-A (FSL)
26.3 K% | 15.7 BB% | 0.3 HR/9 | 1.59 GO/AO

What an inning will look like: If Familia pitches — and I’m guessing that’s no sure thing since he threw yesterday — we will see a lot of fastballs. The great U.S. offense is likely to draw a few walks off Familia, as he’s the most wild pitcher in this game. He’ll pitch into the mid-90s with a heavy fastball, but he doesn’t really know where it’s going.

What he profiles as: A reliever, if a Major Leaguer at all. It’s hard to believe that some pitching instructor can’t help Familia harness his stuff, but it wouldn’t be the first time it didn’t work out.

Trystan Magnuson | RHP | Age 25 | Toronto Blue Jays | Double-A (Eastern)
23.2 K% | 4.0 BB% | 0.2 HR/9 | 1.33 GO/AO

The pride of Marc Hulet and his fellow Canadian baseball fanatics, Magnuson was a first-round pick by the Blue Jays out of Louisville. He’s now a competent middle relief prospect, daunting if more for his size (6-foot-7) than his stuff. This is the problem I have with the Futures Game — more concerned with meeting some country quota rather than bringing us the game’s future. Oops, sorry Marc.

Hector Noesi | RHP | Age 23 | New York Yankees | A+ / AA
9.2 K/9 | 1.5 BB/9 | 0.7 HR/9

He doesn’t have the same kind of funk, but at this point, Noesi is beginning to remind me of Yusmeiro Petit. They are both little dudes that just kept succeeding in the minor leagues, but without a lot of backing from scouts. Noesi trades some better movement for a little less deception, and now that he’s dominating Double-A (23.8 K%, 4.8 BB%), people are beginning to wonder if we were all wrong about Noesi. However, I think Sunday will show that at the end of the day, he’s pretty unexciting. And when he gets to Yankee Stadium, balls are going to start leaving the yard with more frequency. Because, while it once was, comping Yusmeiro Petit (5.44 career FIP) is no longer a compliment.

Stolmy Pimentel | RHP | Age 20 | Boston Red Sox | High-A (Carolina)
17.8 K% | 7.4 BB% | 0.7 HR/9 | 1.42 GO/AO

What an inning will look like: Pimentel is better visually than his numbers would indicate. We could see 93-95 mph in a short inning’s work, and he’ll mix in a curveball and changeup. The strength of those two pitches is pretty inconsistent, and is represented by the difference between his starts on May 15 and 27 (two six-inning no hitters) and his start on June 26 (10 H, 8 ER in 2.1 IP).

What he profiles as: This has been a bit of a disappointing year for Pimentel, because while he’s had those wildly varying starts listed above, his most common result has been something like 3 runs allowed in 5 innings. His strikeouts have been down and his walks have been up of late, and some bad performances have resulted. Sunday will really answer the question: Is something wrong with Stolmy Pimentel?

Eduardo Sanchez | RHP | Age 21 | St. Louis Cardinals | AA / AAA
9.1 K/9 | 2.9 BB/9 | 0.9 HR/9

While Sanchez will be fun to watch — got to love the 5-foot-11 guys that might touch 98 mph — he isn’t exactly an inspired choice. Sanchez has a chance to help the Cardinals in the second half, as his fastball/slider combination is pretty good. A scoreless inning at the Futures Game wouldn’t be a huge surprise. But there were better options out there, and future set-up men aren’t what this game is about.

Julio Teheran | RHP | Age 19 | Atlanta Braves | A- / A+
10.5 K/9 | 2.2 BB/9 | 0.5 HR/9

What an inning will look like: Well, it will look really good, because this is the inspired choice this game is all about. Teheran is in the short discussion for the best pitcher in the minor leagues, and I can’t imagine how his stuff will play up in an inning. I expect the fastball to be 95-98 mph, and he should dazzle with his curveball and changeup. Teheran is a reason to watch this game.

What he profiles as: I know it’s boring to say a future ace and move on, but that’s really it. Good things happen to people that have feel and command for a 95 mph fastball and a plus (or plus-plus) changeup.

Alex Torres | LHP | Age 22 | Tampa Bay Rays | Double-A (Southern)
29.9 K% | 12.7 BB% | 0.4 HR/9 | 1.67 GO/AO

It took an injury to get Torres to the Futures Game, and I’m glad he’s here. He’s one of the more unique pitchers that will be in Anaheim, because he can throw any pitch in any count, but more poignantly, he can throw it anywhere. Torres is wild, but while effective now, it needs controlling before he makes it to the Major Leagues. Perhaps something resembling the career path of Brian Fuentes is in play, but considering the Rays pitching depth, they can take the time to spend a few years working on that command.

Philippe Valiquette | LHP | Age 23 | Cincinnati Reds | AA / AAA
7.1 K/9 | 5.0 BB/9 | 0.2 HR/9

If this Canadian southpaw had a different name, would he be planning a trip to Orange county this weekend? With that said, I need to catch a flight. More from Anaheim this weekend!