Right-hander Yadier Alvarez is in camp with the Dodgers, tweets Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register. Alvarez was once a highly-touted prospect, with the Dodgers giving him a $16MM signing bonus in 2015 and Baseball America ranking him as the 26th prospect across the league in 2017. Despite being selected to the team’s 40-man roster prior to the 2019 season, there were concerns with his lack of control. In 2018, he pitched 48 1/3 innings at Double-A with an excellent 30% strikeout rate but a ghastly 20% walk rate.
In 2019, injuries limited him to just 3 2/3 Double-A innings and he was designated for assignment in March of 2020, eventually clearing waivers and being outrighted to the minors. Of course, the pandemic wiped out the minor leagues that year and Alvarez was only able to throw 3 2/3 Arizona Complex League innings in 2021. Despite all of those ups and downs, Alvarez is still relatively young, turning 26 on Tuesday. One silver lining of losing his roster spot two years ago is that he is not affected by the ongoing lockout, giving him a chance to show the Dodgers’ brass that he still has something to offer.
Another hurler looking for a bounceback with the Dodgers is Carson Fulmer, whom the club selected from the Reds in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft in December. Originally selected 8th overall by the White Sox in the 2015 draft, Fulmer also cracked Baseball America’s Top 100, coming in at #70 in 2016. However, he has struggled to establish himself in the majors, putting up a walk rate above 10% in each of the past six seasons. After bouncing around the waiver wire multiple times in recent years, he eventually cleared waivers in May of 2021. Plunkett spoke to the 28-year-old, who credits his former Vanderbilt teammate Walker Buehler with his current opportunity. “I think that he had chirped at the front office a little bit and tried to get me over here,” Fulmer joked. “He was excited (when the Dodgers acquired Fulmer). At the end of the day, he knows what I’m capable of. He just wanted me to be in the right place, the right situation.” Much like Alvarez, the loss of his roster spot gives Fulmer the benefit of participating in Spring Training and the upcoming minor league season, despite the lockout.
More news from teams in the west…
- Much like Alvarez and Fulmer, Riley Pint was a highly-touted youngster who dealt with control issues. Selected by the Rockies with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft, Pint eventually cracked Baseball America’s Top 100 list at #46 in 2017. But from that point on, his stock continued dropping due to the aforementioned control problems. In 2021, he pitched 10 2/3 innings at High-A with an incredible 34.7% strikeout rate but and inflated 20.4% walk rate. That’s a small sample, of course, but largely indicative of his body of work in the minors. Pint retired in June of last year but has now un-retired, as reported by Thomas Harding of MLB.com. “Everybody is on his own time frame. I always love seeing the kid,” says Rockies player development director Chris Forbes “He’s a fantastic kid. I’m glad to see him back.” Pint just turned 24 in November, meaning there’s plenty of time for him to rebuild his stock in the game if he can get back on track and improve his control.
- The ongoing lockout carries negative consequences for every player in the union, but among those with the potential to be most affected are those who have earned 40-man roster spots but were likely to spend this year in the minors. With Spring Training and the regular season both now delayed, they are losing crucial development time, along with losing access to team trainers and development staff. Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle spoke to some Astros’ prospects who were recently added to the team’s roster but were then locked out almost immediately after. This includes a surreal story of an absent-minded coach texting infielder Joe Perez, looking for a status update, with Perez having to politely remind the team employee that he’s not allowed to respond. “It’s definitely been something extraordinary,” Perez said.