5'10" 175 lbs DOB: 12/8/1987
Bats: Left | Throws: Left
2009: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes/Arkansas Travelers/Montgomery Biscuits
Acquired: 2009 trade with Los Angeles Angels(with Matt Sweeney and Sean Rodriguez for Scott Kazmir)
Signed in 2005 by the Los Angeles Angels, Alex Torres didn't get past rookie ball until 2008. He had a breakout year in the Cal League in 2009, though, and had been promoted to AA when the Rays traded Scott Kazmir for him, Sean Rodriguez, and Matt Sweeney.
Even in a loaded system like the Rays, Torres' stuff stands out. His fastball doesn't light up the radar guns, sitting in the 89-91 range, but its movement and his ability to throw it to both sides of the plate makes it an above-average offering. He throws two kinds of breaking balls, a curveball and a slider, both of which are swing-and-miss offerings. He also throws a change-up, but it's well behind his other three pitches in terms of development.
Torres took home the Cal League ERA title with a 2.74 mark and pitched decently in seven AA starts. It's clear he needs to shore up his control and command, however. With Ranch Cucamonga, he walked 63 in 121.1 innings, a little over a hitter every two innings. In AA between Arkansas and Montgomery, he walked 22 in 34.2 innings, well over 5.0 per 9 innings. Torres pitches aggressively, working both sides of the plate, but he tends to rack up high pitch counts(undersized, racks up strikeouts, inflated pitch counts... sounds kind of like Scott Kazmir, no?)
Despite standing only 5'10," Torres is able to create a good angle with his pitches, leading to a lot of groundballs. This helps neutralize the control issues since he can get a timely double play, and he's only allowed 8 homeruns in 288 career innings. He followed up a 2.50 GO/AO in 2008 with a 2.47 mark in 2009.
He'll be 22 to start the 2010 season, where he'll be part of a strong rotation: Torres, Alex Cobb, David Newmann, and probably Aneury Rodriguez. There are few questions about Torres' stuff, it will simply come down to whether he can limit the free passes and prove that he can handle a starter's workload year in and year out. His 156 innings pitched in 2009 was a 70-inning increase from the previous season. Out of the three players the Rays got for Kazmir, Torres probably has the highest ceiling. He has the stuff to be a #2 starter in the majors, but he'll need to get the walks under control.