14. R.J. Alvarez
San Diego Padres fans, meet R.J. Alvarez.
At Friars on Base, we have once again placed an unranked prospect in our Top 20.
Because he’s that good. That and if there’s one thing I’ve learned since the Padres have made Petco Park their home, it’s to not trust the judgement of the front office.
The name R.J. Alvarez might sound familiar to you. That’s because he was one of the key pieces that the Padres acquired from the Angels in the Huston Street deal back in July.
The Halos drafted Alvarez in the third round of the 2012 draft and were attracted to him for his devastating fastball. Alvarez consistently pounds the strike zone with above 95 mph heat, and could be flirting with 100 mph by the time of his call-up. As Cincinnati Reds fans know, that kind of fire power can be a daunting task for opposing hitters in late innings. If Alvarez wants to have some longevity in his career, he will need to focus on perfecting his off-speed pitches to pace his at-bats.
In an organization with so many top pitching prospects, it’s easy to see how Alvarez could get overlooked. But, Alvarez currently boasts an impressive 1.12 ERA, 56 K, and a 0.94 WHIP in 35 games between Double A Arkansas and San Antonio. Just a few short appearances after getting traded, Alvarez helped the Missions to their first no-hitter in three decades.
He might not be a future starter, but he will be a future star. If there is one thing the Padres do well, it’s cultivate an elite bullpen. After mastering his relief role in the minors, Alvarez could be groomed as the Padres’ future closer once Joaquin Benoit has moved on.
R.J. Alvarez is on the fast track to the major leagues and could make his first appearance by the end of 2014.