Ventura continues dazzling spring campaign

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Manager Ned Yost had a little anecdote after his Royals crushed the World Series champion Giants, 13-2, on Saturday.

"The umpire, Ron Kulpa, came over in the second inning and he said, 'Who is this kid? And, wow!'" Yost said. "He goes, 'This kid is some kind of nasty.' And I said, 'Yeah, he's pretty good.'"

Yost had to chuckle. The subject of that tale, right-hander Yordano Ventura, seems to be headed for his Major League pitching staff in a hurry. Probably not at the beginning of the season but soon -- he doesn't seem to need much more Minor League seasoning.

"I can say this for the kid, he's getting really, really close," Yost said. "Seasoning means you're down working on your command, working on your stuff. He's got three pitches he can throw for strikes and they're all three above-average pitches. He needs more experience -- a little bit, but not a whole lot more."

Ventura, ranked as the Royals' No. 3 prospect by, reeled off three no-hit innings in his first Cactus League start. He struck out three and walked two, the only runners against him.

The youngest player in camp at 21, the slender kid from the Dominican Republic critiqued his own performance by saying his pitches were a bit up in the first inning.

"They were but the thing that's so impressive about a kid like him is he made an adjustment," Yost said. "And when he made his adjustment, he was almost untouchable today."

Because of his relatively small size and big power on his pitches, he's been compared to three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez. But like Martinez during his career, Ventura is growing.

"Before Pedro was big Pedro, he was small Pedro. Didn't weigh much and five or six years later, Pedro was big Pedro," Ventura said.

This has been Ventura's first Major League camp and, after pitching in four games with a 2.08 ERA, he's feeling comfortable.

"It's been a very good experience," he said.

And he's made a big impression.

"We call him 'Ace' for a reason because he's got unbelievable stuff," second baseman Johnny Giavotella said. "You could just see the velocity explode out of his hand. It's just a pleasure to be out there on the same field with somebody that has that kind of talent."

"He's got an electric fastball, upper 90s," said first baseman Billy Butler. "I see a guy that commands the ball well, I see a guy that's not far away from the big leagues. I see a guy that can contribute this year for us, if we need him."

Watching from the other dugout, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was no less impressed.

"We faced the best arm we've seen this spring," Bochy said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.