Henderson Alvarez, a right hander in the Toronto Blue Jays organization is 22 today. The Venezuelan signed as an undrafted fee agent in 2008.
Alvarez has excellent command, owning a minor league walk to strikeout ratio of 3/88 K/BB rate in Double A and a 18/70 rate last year. He throws primarily fastballs, which sit around 95-96 mph and have a sink to them, giving him excellent ground ball rates.
This is fantasy relevant because the ground ball tendencies limit the home runs, keeping the ERA low, and the fact that he limits walks will keep his WHIP low.
But the knock has been that his pitches don’t get a lot of swing and miss, just weak contact. The lack of strikeouts has kept his name under the radar in fantasy baseball circles.
I think he’s a future star and a legitimate fantasy baseball sleeper. My reasoning is the fact that his changeup is developing nicely and could soon translate into a true swing and miss pitch. In fact, his soft change is being used against lefties and it’s generating lots of misses. Additionally, he has a second changeup that is coming in a little harder and he’s locating it perfectly. On top of the changeup he’s learning to mix in an occasional slider.
At just 22 years of age Henderson Alvarez is quickly learning a great new pitch sequence that I think will increase his strikeout rate. With his already great ERA and WHIP potential I think he’ll provide sneaky good fantasy value this year. He’s available in almost all leagues so I’m already looking to work him in for a spot start or two in a couple of my leagues.
BONUS BIRTHDAY: Billy Butler turns 26 today. But doesn’t it seem like we’ve been talking for 20 years about how those 70,000 doubles he hits each season will turn into home runs. They won’t. Instead, be happy with the great average and 21-23 home runs.
BONUS BIRTHDAY #2: Miguel Cabrera turns 29 today. He’s an incredible hitter and arguably the #1 fantasy baseball player, so what more can be said about him other than he’s taking to 3B better than I thought he would.