Torres’ tough debut

The Rays showcased another one of their top young players on Monday, as they called up left-handed pitcher Alexander Torres for their game against the Yankees. Torres was ranked by Baseball America as the Rays’ sixth-best prospect in a list headlined by fellow hurlers Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore.

After Alex Cobb, a rookie in his sixth career game, started the game effectively, Joe Maddon called on Torres to make his major league debut in the ninth inning of a 4-4 tie. He was wild, throwing 18 of his 40 pitches for balls—not including an intentional pass to Nick Swisher. In his inning of work, he allowed a hit and three walks (two unintentional); he walked in the go-ahead run on a 3-2 count against Russell Martin. Nerves certainly could have been a factor, but Torres has had control issues in the minor leagues as well (nearly five walks per nine innings in his Triple-A Durham stint this year).

Moving onto the pitch data from Torres’s debut: he showcased a mid-90s fastball, a mid-80s changeup, and a big curve in the high 70s. This report from Adam Sobsey says that his fastball usually sits 91-93; Torres’ velocity was up from there today, presumably due to the fact that he had one, high-pressure inning to work with. The charts below show the horizontal/vertical spin deflection (in inches) and horizontal spin deflection/velocity (inches/mph) for Torres’ pitches*.


*Tropicana Field typically has some funky calibration issues, so I am applying some offsets that Mike Fast kindly provided to me in order to give a somewhat more accurate look at the data.

27 fastballs (presumably all four-seamers, though one looks like it might be a sinker), 11 changeups, and two curves from Torres yesterday. The table shows his results with each pitch.

mph # vs LHB vs RHB Ball Called Swinging Foul In Play
Fastball 94.4 27 17 10 13 4 2 6 2
Changeup 85.6 11 4 7 5 1 2 3 0
Curveball 77.7 2 2 0 1 0 0 1
40 23 17 18 6 4 9 3

Three good-looking pitches, and it’s intriguing that he was willing to use the changeup against left-handed batters. His control problems will probably give him some trouble in the big leagues, as they did in yesterday’s MLB debut.

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