Ventura twirls another 10-K gem

Royals right-hander wants to be like childhood hero Pedro

Yordano Ventura has not allowed a run in three of his six starts this year. (John Owen)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | May 6, 2013 8:37 PM ET

If Yordano Ventura reminds you of someone, there's a chance it's not just a coincidence.

At 5-foot-11 tall and 180 pounds, the Royals prospect modeled his game on a fellow native of the Dominican Republic -- somebody who also had a wiry frame in his prime and who complemented a mid-90s fastball with a nasty changeup.

Time will tell whether Kansas City's No. 3 prospect comes close to replicating his idol's success.

Ventura gave up two hits and a pair of walks over six innings while striking out 10 batters for the second consecutive game in the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals' 6-1 win over the Arkansas Travelers.

"I think I could be like Pedro Martinez,"'s 56th-ranked prospect said through teammate and translator Santiago Garrido. "I grew up watching him and he was my idol. I didn't think about [playing professionally] when I was over there, but now I'm here, the hard work is showing up.

"I just need to keep working hard and every time I go out there do the best I can."

Ventura was perfect through the order the first time, but he ran into trouble in the fourth inning when he loaded the bases on consecutive one-out walks and Robbie Widlansky's single to left field.

But the 21-year-old, signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, struck out Randal Grichuk and Kaleb Cowart -- both swinging -- to end the threat.

"He had another outstanding outing," manager Brian Poldberg said. "He was in trouble but he pitched himself out of it and used all of his pitches. There had not been many baserunners, but once he got back in a rhythm, he got rolling.

"Anybody that can throw the ball up to 100 mph and has a breaking ball that is a plus and his changeup too has the makings of a very good pitcher."

Comparisons with the eight-time All-Star might be unfair at such an early stage, considering Martinez won three Cy Young Awards and led his league in ERA five times in seven seasons before Ventura was even a teenager.

"You're talking about a very good pitcher that pitched in the big leagues," said Poldberg, "but when you break down all of [Ventura's] tools, he has the chance to do a lot of big things.

"I just think he has to have that fastball command where he can add and subtract and move the ball in and out the strike zone, because he already has the ability to throw his changeup for strikes and throw it down in the count."

Ventura (3-0) lowered his ERA to 1.84 and moved into a tie with Akron's Danny Salazar for the most strikeouts (43) across the three Double-A leagues. Ventura also lowered his opponents' batting average to .181, which ranks fourth in the Texas League.

"I felt pretty good and I tried to get hitters out as soon as I could to go as deep into the game as I could," added Ventura, who said he had never recorded consecutive double-digit strikeout games before.

"It is not easy. I'm just trying to go out there and do the best that I can. I felt pretty pumped up after [the fourth inning] and it got me excited because the bases were loaded."

Northwest Arkansas' Cole White allowed a run on two hits in the seventh and Andy Ferguson pitched two scoreless innings to complete the victory. Third baseman Angel Franco was 4-for-5 with two runs scored at the top of the Naturals order to raise his average to .320, and left fielder Roman Hernandez doubled twice and plated two runs.

Arkansas' Manny Correa (1-3) gave up four runs on 10 hits over six innings in the loss.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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