Less than two years ago, Yadier Alvarez was regarded as one of the best assets in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system. He was ranked as highly as the organization’s third-best prospect after the graduations of Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Julio Urias.
Often ahead of Alvarez were Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo, both of whom are expected to play significant roles on the 2019 Dodgers. Meanwhile, several prospects behind Alvarez have either leapfrogged him or reached the Majors before him.
Yusniel Diaz, the other top prospect signed out of Cuba around the same time as Alvarez, headlined the package that the Dodgers sent to the Baltimore Orioles in the Manny Machado trade.
Arm soreness and groin problems limited Alvarez in recent years. And when he was healthy enough to take the mound, he struggled over parts of two seasons with Double-A Tulsa. Alvarez posted a 3.55 ERA over 33 innings at Tulsa in 2017, and a 4.66 ERA over 48.1 innings there in 2018. In both seasons, his strikeout to walk ratio was nearly even.
Yet Alvarez has returned to Spring Training with the Dodgers. He has become one of the few out of the Dodgers’ heralded 2015-16 crop of Cuban signings that did not end up traded or cut. However, Alvarez has been away from his teammates for much of 2019 so far, and is not close to appearing in a preseason game.
Dodgers coaches watch him closely as they attempt to help him recover the potential he once had, per MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick:
Alvarez can be found almost every day this Spring Training on the far bullpen mound, with a rubber contraption linking his right hip to his ankle, having his delivery cleaned up by a group of coaches and trainers in the belief that bad mechanics led to early arm soreness.
“We’re not going to rush him,” said manager Dave Roberts. “He’s doing well.”
“We’re working toward something in the future,” said Alvarez.
If he stays healthy, Alvarez will likely return to Tulsa for the third straight season. He’s not considered to be on the verge of reaching the Majors.
While he possess an electric arm, Alvarez has struggled with command. There may still be a chance that Alvarez evolves into a pitcher good enough to become the Dodgers’ next trade chip for a star or, better yet, capable of making an impact for the team in the near future.