When the Royals signed Yordano Ventura out of the Dominican Republic after the 2008 season, he was a short righthander who reached the high-80s with his fastball and had some issues with his delivery that needed to be addressed. Not exactly your classic projection, but for $28,000, the risk for the Royals was minimal.
Ventura, 21, has morphed into a different animal since then. After putting on weight and ironing out his mechanics, Ventura's fastball now regularly registers in the mid-90s and has flashed as high as 100 mph. He's been dominant for high Class A Wilmington, including yesterday (5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO) to drop his ERA to 3.10 in 61 innings with 78 strikeouts, second in the Carolina League only to Rangers righthander Cody Buckel (91).
With Ventura's size, there may be a temptation for some scouts to label him as a bullpen arm, but he's more than just big numbers on the radar gun, as his fastball also has good life, he throws strikes and has a breaking ball that works as an out pitch for him at times. He probably could make for a terrific weapon as a reliever, but there are plenty of ingredients here for him to be even more valuable in a starting role.