It’s been a grind but we have finally arrived at the Toronto Blue Jays top ten prospects. Next up is one of the Jays’ most exciting young arms, RHP Alberto Tirado.
Name: Alberto Tirado
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 12/10/1994 (19)
Acquired: Signed in July 2011 as an international free agent ($300,000 USD)
Born: Nagua, Dominican Republic
Height/Weight: 6’1″/177 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- Previously ranked 9th on 2013 Jays Journal Top Prospects
- Ranked 76th on 2014 Baseball Prospectus Top 101
- Ranked as Blue Jays #3 prospect by Baseball Prospectus
- Ranked as Blue Jays #8 prospect by Baseball America
- Ranked 8th on Appalachian League Top 20 by Baseball America
Stats and Analysis:
Alberto Tirado has left scouts and evaluators drooling after another terrific season in 2013. The numbers don’t really tell the whole story but they are spectacular nonetheless so let’s take a look. In 48.1 innings, he struck out 44 batters and posted a 1.68 ERA. He kept the ball in the park and only gave up one home run the entire season. According to FanGraphs, opponents batted only .229 against him (MiLB.com had .236) and he did that with a very normalized BABIP of .299. The only knock on his season was that he struggled with command at times and walked 20 batters and hitting eight more. However his end of year 2.2 SO/BB ratio was more than acceptable from an eighteen year old with his electric stuff.
With runners in scoring position, Tirado was lights out. He struck out 16 batters in 15 innings and held opponents to a .188 batting average and 1.60 GO/AO rate with a runner at second or third base. That made good for an 82.8% strand rate, which was one of the reasons his ERA greatly out-performed his FIP of 3.39 (another obviously is the walks).
Video by Prospect D2J www.MLBProspectPortal.com
Tirado floats between a high 3/4 and low 3/4 arm slot and like many young pitchers his mechanics are far from perfect. The different arm positions means he struggles with a consistent release point, which is probably one of the reasons why he struggles with command. However his arm action is fluid and the ball explodes out of his hand with an easy release. He has a tendency to overthrow at times and will fall off to the first base side. Improved balance would likely go a long way in improving his consistency.
Pitch Arsenal Breakdown
Tirado’s fastball works in the 91-95 MPH range, will touch 96 and has plenty of arm side run. He doesn’t have great command of it yet but the velocity and movement alone make it an easy potential plus offering. Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus hangs a handsome “7 potential” grade on the pitch.
Tirado throws two secondary pitches, a changeup and slider. Parks calls his changeup “advanced” for his age. Good arm action along with late bite makes it another plus projection. His change also complements his fastball well as he typically throws it about 10 MPH slower than his heater, which is close to ideal.
His slider can be a bit loopy at times but when it’s on the pitch has late break with good depth or tilt. Marc Hulet of FanGraphs said “his breaking ball is showing signs of improving” and his slider could develop into yet another above average pitch. Jared Macdonald at Jays Prospects noticed that Tirado has a tendency to rely on his slider to get himself out of trouble, especially against right-handed batters. However most evaluators agree that Tirado’s changeup already is or will end up as the better pitch of the two.
Risk, Outlook and ETA
It’s almost certain that Tirado will start in Lansing at the Low-A, full-season level. It will be interesting to see how many innings the Blue Jays allow Tirado to throw in 2014 but I expect the number to be under 100. Including extended spring training, he threw about 80 last year and was still working towards holding his velocity later into starts. He doesn’t possess a hulking bodies that teams covet and could stand to add more strength to his smallish frame.
Packing three potential plus pitches, Parks calls Tirado “a beast in the making.” The young righty will need to refine his command to reach his ceiling as a number 2 starter but many evalutors, Parks especially, see him as a potential impact starter at the major league level.
If his command improves there’s an outside chance Tirado could arrive in Toronto by 2016 but 2017 is probably the safer bet. With only a short-season resume to his name, Tirado’s risk is still very high but a successful year in Lansing and refined command will surely lead to an even higher ranking (and more national recognition) on 2015 top prospects lists.