Henderson Alvarez, the young Venezuelan, pitched his way to North America when he was just 16. Born April 18, 1990, he signed a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006.
He started slowly: 25.2 IPs in 2007 and 46.1 IPs in 2008. Then, the Jays took the training wheels off and let the 19 year old Alvarez throw 124 innings in 2009 at A ball. He posted a 3.47 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and impeccable 4.84 K:BB rate.
The following season he moved to the Florida State league and hit some road bumps. He walked slightly more batters and gave up more hits. That said, his .338 BABIP and 67.5% strand rate had a decided hand in his 4.33 ERA.
Undeterred, the Jays put Alvarez in AA for the majority of 2011. In 88 IPs, he posted a 2.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 3.88 K:BB rate. Then, on August 10, he started his first game in the show. He threw 104 pitches over 5.2 innings, striking out four, walking one and giving up three earned runs.
After four starts, Alvarez was winless, but showed promise. While his ERA sat at 4.76, he had 16 Ks against just five walks.
Alvarez threw a gem in his next start against the lowly Baltimore Orioles: going eight innings, walking none and striking out five. He was 135 days past his 21st birthday, making him the franchise’s youngest pitcher to record a win since Kelvim Escobar in 1997, and the youngest pitcher to record a win as a starter since 1979.
At the end of August, Alvarez had a 3.52 ERA and 21 K’s compared to just five walks. His year end line was similar: 3.53 ERA, with 40 K’s and just eight walks. While his FIP was just a smidge under 4.00 (owing to a slightly low BABIP and beneficial strand rate), his xFIP was actually lower than his ERA (owing to a 15.1% HR:FB rate).
Alvarez has the potential to be a dominant force in WHIP. His 1.13 BB/9 rate last season in the majors mirrors his minor league success. With teams getting more familiar with him, it will be difficult (although by no means impossible) for him to repeat his ERA. However, he should be good for a 3.75 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 101 K’s (if he gets 160 IPs).
Alvarez averaged 93.3 MPH on his fast ball and worked off it with an 85.4 MPH change. He posted a great ground ball rate, which, when paired with his miniscule walk rate, will really keep the WHIP down. Remember Brett Anderson’s good beginning to 2010? Well he had a 6.01 K/9 rate, 1.76 BB/9 rate and a 54.6% ground ball rate.
Just as a benchmark, Alvarez has an ADP of 255 and hasn’t been drafted higher than pick 247, according to Mock Draft Central. That makes him the 99th SP off the board behind Josh Collmenter, Mark Buehrle, Erik Bedard, A.J. Burnett, Jake Peavy, and a whole host of other characters Alvarez will best.
In short, Alvarez is a future phenom without the hype. He’s the type of pitcher you can get at the back-end of drafts to balance out high-WHIP, high-K guys like Ryan Dempster.
Written by Albert Lang exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com
Follow Albert on Twitter @h2h_corner or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!
(August 19, 2011 - Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America)
Remember to check out our 2012 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, with Ranks, Auction Values, Expert Mock Draft and tons of articles. Click here to learn more or purchase.