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Alvarez hits 100 mph in five hitless frames

Dodgers' No. 6 prospect strikes out eight in latest gem for the Loons
August 16, 2016

Great Lakes manager Gil Velazquez may not know where Yadier Alvarez will end up down the road, but he won't bet against him becoming one of the next dominant hurlers in the game.

The Dodgers' sixth-ranked prospect twirled five hitless innings, striking out eight and walking three, as Class A Great Lakes blanked Lansing, 12-0, in a three-hitter Tuesday night.

"The arm is very special, but it's hard to say where it's going to go," Velazquez said. "He's young and it could be a long road to the Major Leagues. But I believe he's got the right character and makeup to be up there at a very young age. He's a guy that competes, he's a smart kid, he's very athletic and has that magic arm."

The no-hit outing marked the continuation of a strong debut season for Alvarez (2-1). The 20-year-old was signed by the Dodgers in July 2015 despite not pitching in any of Cuba's top leagues or for any of its national teams. After posting a 1.80 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 20 innings in the Rookie-level Arizona League, he was promoted to the Loons on July 21.

"It's very impressive," Velazquez said. "His fastball is a power fastball. He topped out at 100 [mph] a few times tonight. He'll sit around 96 and he's got a sharp curve. You can tell the hitters were intimidated. For him to be as young as he is and have such an easy delivery and hit 100 mph is impressive."

Alvarez struck out two batters in each of his first three innings, but pitched around minor trouble twice. The Cuba native walked Juan Kelly to lead off the second and his wild pitch moved the first baseman to second. But he struck out Ryan Metzler and got Justin Atkinson to fly out.

The right-hander issued his second free pass to Austin Davis with one out in the third. A passed ball by backstop Steve Berman pushed Davis to second, but Alvarez got Lane Thomas on a grounder to third. Alvarez worked around his third walk to Ryan Hissey in the fourth and retired the side in order in the fifth.

Through his first six Midwest League starts, he has a 2.36 ERA, 42 strikeouts and seven walks in 26 2/3 innings.

"He's so young that he's trying to understand himself," said Velazquez, a former big leaguer. "He's learning about the mechanics of pitching and he still gets away with a lot because of his power arm. But I feel that once he becomes a smart student of the game and understands how his mechanics work and what his body does and doesn't do well, he'll be a guy who's going to be very impressive to watch in the near future.

"I saw him pitch in Spring Training and saw how under control he was with his emotions and character. His delivery was very calm and controlled, but his arm was so impressive. Honestly, I'm not surprised at what he's done here. If he speeds up his delivery a little more and gets a little more aggressive, I feel he's a guy who can be dominant in the Majors."

The Lugnuts collected their first hit in the sixth when Zach McKinstry led off with a single against lefty Luis De Paula. Dodgers' No. 29 prospect Mitchell White yielded one hit and a walk while fanning four in two innings and Shea Spitzbarth allowed a hit while closing out the final frame to complete the Loons' eighth shutout of the season and fourth straight victory.

Great Lakes' Ibandel Isabel and Logan Landon both collected three hits, including a homer, and three RBIs. Brandon Davis, the Dodgers' No. 18 prospect, went 3-for-5 with a double, three runs scored and two RBIs as the Loons matched a season high with 18 hits.

Ryan Borucki (8-4) allowed four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out six in five frames for Lansing. Toronto's 17th-ranked prospect had been unbeaten in his last 11 starts.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.