Alberto Tirado: First Impressions of the Blue Jays Youth Movement
Entering the 2014 season, few Blue Jays farmhands elicited as much excitement as Alberto Tirado. The Dominican-born right-hander started the season with an aggressive assignment to Single-A Lansing, though his command never materialized (39 walks in 40 innings). A move to Short Season Vancouver came in June, where the 19-year old was still more than two years younger than the average player in the Northwest League. With easy velocity and developing secondary pitches, how did Tirado help his stock this year?
Part of Toronto’s vaunted 2011 international signings class, Alberto Tirado joined fellow “classmates” Jairo Labourt [Scouting Report] and Miguel Castro in the Vancouver Canadians rotation. Labourt went on to lead the Northwest League in ERA, learning how to better harness his powerful arsenal. Castro earned two promotions and ended the year in the Florida State League (though appears ticketed for a return to Lansing in 2015). Tirado, on the other hand, battled with control all season and struggled to pitch deep into games on account of tight pitch counts.
At 6-foot-0, 180 pounds, Tirado presents even lighter. With slender hips and lower half, the Dominican draws on lightening-quick arm speed to generate plus velocity. Tirado’s motion is loose with easy arm action. He adds little power from his stride in the wind up, though the leg lift and stride from the stretch is more pronounced. While the tempo, arm speed, and release points can vary and cause control issues, a high volume of repetitions will help Tirado reduce walk totals. Ultimately, the motion is simple and should prove to be repeatable.
A brief look at Alberto Tirado showed why the young right-hander was so well regarded entering the season. Tirado’s four-seamer sat 94 mph, reaching 95 mph a number of times, though the outing against the Everett AquaSox only lasted one inning. Lacking control, the right-hander repeatedly threw fastballs. The pitch has tail, but the Blue Jay overthrew it frequently, leaving it up and out of the zone. He added a two-seamer ranging between 89-92 mph with good sink. As Tirado gains consistency with his control, both pitches project as above-average, if not plus.
On account of poor control, Tirado rarely throw his off-speed pitches. Still, Tirado showed a tight slider, sitting at 87 mph. The change-up presented ahead of the slider with slight fade but arm speed (which Tirado never seems to lack). Trading off velocity (the pitch hit 87 mph as well) for more movement would enhance the pitch’s effectiveness.
Alberto Tirado: Question Marks, But Still Promising
With such an attractive selection of pitches to choose from, it’s easy to understand the buzz about Tirado. After seeing him earlier in the season and following his development, concerns persist:
First, on the shorter side and very slender for a starting pitcher, Tirado’s present reliance on arm speed raises doubt at his ability to withstand a full season’s workload. It’s possible Toronto pushes him into a high-leverage role to take advantage of the right-hander’s electric arm in short bursts (which clearly inhibits Tirado’s value).
Second, though the Dominican will only turn 20 in December, Tirado has significant work to do to harness his stuff. After being removed from the Vancouver rotation, Tirado walked 20 batters in 26 innings. The biggest caveat remains: IF his control improves, Tirado will be one of the most impressive pitchers in Single-A next season.
Finally, Tirado needs to log more innings and stretch out before becoming a fast track candidate. Though Castro and Tirado threw similar inning totals in 2014, Castro logged 5.0 or more innings in 11 of 15 starts. Tirado, on the other hand, lasted 4.0 innings only once after coming to Vancouver in June. Still, if Daniel Norris [Scouting Report] is any indication, Toronto will move pitchers quickly when ready. The trick for Alberto Tirado will be improved control and lasting deeper into starts. As is, the right-hander is too talented for a fantasy baseball owner to cut losses. However, his ETA is late 2017 at the earliest.
8 Sep 2014 / Ben Flajole /
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