This year's ode is about Dodgers right-handed pitcher, Yadier Alvarez.
Yadier Alvarez was signed in 2015 as an international amateur free agent as part of the Dodgers' bold "sign everybody in Cuba" strategy. Alvarez was seen as one of the best international free agents in the signing class and is still just 20 years old.
Video by Fangraphs
Alvarez is armed with a fastball that can reach triple digits. He also has a slider, curveball and change up. All three of those secondary pitches are currently work in progress pitches but if all goes well, the fastball and slider may be plus plus pitches, along with a plus curveball and average change up.
Alvarez impressed many in 2016 by refining his command and learning to take control of his pitches as the season went on. Even when he was promoted from rookie ball to low-A ball he still managed to keep his command in check and sustained his very good strikeout-to-walk ratio.
2016 was a massive success for Alvarez, and the Dodgers were very glad to see that his progress was better than they had expected. Of course the road ahead is still very long. The key for Alvarez will be continuing to work on his fastball command, refining his secondary pitches, and adding a little more body mass to his lanky 6'3, 175 pound frame.
As it stands right now, Alvarez is the Dodgers' top pitching prospect with the graduation of Julio Urias and the departure of Jose De Leon. He presents a high upside, and also fairly high risk return. Yadier may go on to be a very dominant number two starter (behind Kershaw) or a power reliever. I'd assume he falls somewhere in between like a third starter (behind Urias).
Either way, the Dodgers (and their fans) should monitor Alvarez's 2017 very closely. 2016 was a step in the right direction, 2017 will be a test about whether he takes it to another level. If he passes it, expect a 2018 MLB debut.
As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).