Jojanse Torres: Astros' Next Dominican Dandy?
The Astros have noted success scouring the Dominican Republic for older pitchers. Look no further than Framber Valdez, a lefthander they signed at age 21 in 2015 who will open the season in their big league bullpen after debuting as a starter last year.
Jojanse Torres aligns as the next possible success story. The 23-year-old is among the next wave of international arms in the Astros’ fertile farm system. He signed in 2018 after scouts saw him at various workouts.
The team zeroed in on him at their Dominican academy in early 2017, but his contract was not approved until 2018. The righthander struck out 48 in 41 innings in the Dominican Summer League last season.
"His profile is pretty similar to a lot of guys we’ve signed," said Oz Ocampo, the special assistant who formerly served as international scouting director. "He’s a power starting pitching profile in terms of his physicality, his mechanics, his athleticism, his stuff.
"The stuff is probably more plus than most guys who we’ve signed from the beginning of their careers.”
Torres stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 175 pounds and comes armed with a three-pitch mix he has refined in one pro season. Ocampo expects him to start 2019 at either short-season Tri-City or low Class A Quad Cities.
Though Torres has touched 100 mph with a four-seam fastball he can elevate, he resides around 95-97 mph. His slider and changeup have each developed into what Ocampo called plus pitches. Seeing a young Dominican pitcher with feel for a changeup is peculiar, Ocampo said.
Torres’ slider sits in the high 80s. It is short and quick to play off his power fastball. Ocampo said that Torres’ slider was his third pitch when he signed, but it has evolved to a weapon.
"He’s been able to refine his stuff, refine his pitches and just have more consistency with his delivery, more consistency with his command,” Ocampo said. "Basically, he started out at a pretty high level, but he’s added a pretty solid progression in terms of his development in the Dominican and now coming to the States.”