By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
A solid second half of the 2017 season gives RHP Cristian Alvarado something to build on as he goes into 2018.
|Alvarado in 2016 with Delmarva|
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Pitching in Frederick (Class-A High) in 2017, Alvarado compiled a 7-9 record with a 5.00 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in a span of 140.1 innings over 26 games (25 starts). He struck out 109 batters while walking just 22 but did allow a .286 batting average against and 16 home runs. Admittedly, these are pedestrian numbers.
When the Carolina League broke for their All-Star game Alvarado had a 3-7 record over 13 games (12 starts) to go with a 6.79 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. He had also given up 12 home runs. The break must have been fortuitous for the 23 year-old Venezuela native.
In 13 games after the All Star break, Alvarado pitched to a 4-2 record in 78.0 innings. His ERA was 3.58 and his WHIP was 1.23 in those 13 games. He hurled 2 complete games and 1 shutout during the second half of the season as well (compared to 1 complete game in the first half) and only surrendered 4 home runs.
The key to Alvarado’s improvement was both a lower batting average against (.276 vs. .299) and an increase in ground outs compared to fly outs (1.10 vs. 0.82). For the season, his ground ball rate was 42.4% while his fly ball rate was 36.9%. It is worth noting that Alvarado’s fly ball rate represented a 5% decrease from 2016’s rate.
Alvarado’s second half was capped off by being named Carolina League Pitcher of the week for the week of August 21st-27th, a week that saw him throw a 7 inning complete game shutout against the Potomac Nationals (Washington). In that game he surrendered only 4 hits, struck out 4 and walked none.
In six seasons in the Baltimore Orioles organization, the majority of which were spent in Rookie ball (Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League), Alvarado’s career numbers are: 32-32 record, 3.70 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 464 strikeouts and 107 walks. All this points to the fact that Alvarado’s second half improvement is cause for optimism.
I anticipate that Alvarado will start the 2018 season in Frederick and should he continue to show that his 2017 turnaround was no fluke, will find himself in the Bowie (Class-AA) rotation by season’s end.