Lefthander Eric Torres found just the right blend of stuff, deception, command and approach in his first full season. It was a combination that produced a dominant relief performance for the 23-year-old at Double-A Rocket City.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Torres recorded a 1.59 ERA in 42 appearances, striking out 81 and walking 23 in 51 innings. He allowed a .143 opponent average and converted 22 of 23 saves.
Torres’ three-pitch repertoire is not overpowering. His fastball sits in the 90-93 mph range and touches 95. His sweeping slider clocks in at 79-82 mph, and he has an improving 84-86-mph changeup with armside run and decent depth.
But what makes Torres so difficult to hit is the low three-quarters arm angle, which reminds many scouts of current Angels reliever Aaron Loup.
“The way his fastball comes into the zone is unique because of where he releases the ball,” Angels minor league pitching coordinator Buddy Carlyle said. “When he throws his fastball up in the zone, it’s gonna stay a lot flatter than a lot of other pitchers.
“That’s a great thing, because if you’re throwing from an angle where the ball is not going to be coming in steep, where it’s going to be flatter, it’s much harder to square up for hitters because it’s going to appear to rise.”
Drafted in the 14th round last year out of Kansas State, Torres projects more as a high-leverage reliever who can throw multiple innings in the big leagues than he does a closer. But developing the mentality and approach of a ninth-inning specialist can only benefit his development.
“He’s a fearless competitor who makes pitches when he needs to,” Carlyle said. “Rocket City had a lot of big games late in the year. They won a lot of games and made the playoffs, so he pitched in a lot of leverage spots.
“I think the bigger the leverage spots and the more of them you can give them in the minor leagues, it’s only going to help you in the big leagues.”