As the unofficial closer of the future for the Angels, R.J. Alvarez slips into our top five as the highest ranked reliever in the Angel organization.
Position: RHP Highest Level: Advanced-A
Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6'1" Weight: 180
Age: 22 Born: 6/8/1991
2013 Rank: #8
2013 Season Stats
Advanced-A: 48.2 IP, 4-2, 4 SV, 2.96 ERA, 34 H, 27 BB, 2 HR, 79 SO, 2.28 FIP, .327 BABIP, 35.0 GB%
AFL: 10.0 IP, 0-1, 0 SV, 6.30 ERA, 12 H, 2 BB, 0 HR, 12 SO, 1.70 FIP, .375 BABIP
Fastball = A
No better way to describe Alvarez’s fastball than to say it’s an “A” grade pitch. Sits 95-96, touches 97 probably once every batter and when he doesn’t care necessarily where the pitch is going and just wants to throw something as hard as he can, he dials it up to triple digits. Unlike many hard throwers though, Alvarez’s fastball has considerable movement to it. Even the most elite of minor league hitters looked over-powered against Alvarez’s high heat.
Offspeed Pitches = A
R.J. has a plus slider with tight spin and very good side-to-side movement on it. He also began throwing his changeup more often this season, which was a surprising turn of events. You’d figure that he’d just focus on his two pitches and mowing through the competition but Alvarez actually made some strides with this pitch in 2013 to the point where it’s an above average offering. Now if only the Angels starters could learn to throw their changeup as quickly as Alvarez did.
Control = D
There really isn’t anyway to sugarcoat a 5.0 BB/9 except to say he still got the job done. Alvarez has a ton of trouble finding the strike zone and has a lot of work to do in this department.
Command = C
When Alvarez was in the strike zone, he did seem to show some acumen for spotting his pitches where they needed to be. Whatever, when you throw as hard as he does you can get by with average showings in these two departments.
Mechanics = F
Seriously, just about everything wrong you could think of when you think about pitching mechanics, R.J. Alvarez does. He throws just a tick above sidearm, throws across his body, muscles the ball up there, places stress on his elbow and shoulder, shows poor balance, doesn’t finish his delivery and falls off the side of the mound after throwing the pitch. The great thing is, he’s a reliever, he doesn’t need pretty mechanics, he just needs to get outs. And also because he’s a reliever, you need not worry about the future. Most relief pitchers have a major league career that comes and goes in the blink of an eye, so to worry about some potential future arm issue Alvarez may face is pointless because in all honesty, it doesn’t matter how he gets the ball across those 60 ft. 6 inches, just that he does it effectively. There’s also some research that suggests some bodies are made to withstand high heat for long periods of time (Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson) and some bodies just can’t (Mark Prior). Pretty mechanics can only make so much of a difference and ultimately it may come down to genetics. For all we know, Alvarez may be pumping mid to high-90’s heat for the next decade and not be any worse for the wear.