TORONTO – Henderson Alvarez is the next top prospect set for a look from the Toronto Blue Jays.
The hard-throwing right-hander, just 21 years old, will this week be called up from double-A New Hampshire to fill the big-league club’s vacancy in the starting rotation.
It’s unclear when he’ll start – the Blue Jays will need a fifth starter at some point during the staff’s next turn. Manager John Farrell said Sunday that Brett Cecil will start Tuesday night’s series opener against Oakland and that things were undecided beyond that.
Alvarez last pitched Friday, allowing three runs, two earned, over five innings in an 11-3 win over Bowie.
The Venezuelan is one of the club’s top pitching prospects, featuring a fastball that sits in the 94-97 m.p.h. range and has reached triple digits on the radar gun, and a changeup that Fisher Cats pitching coach Pete Walker recently described as "tremendous."
One area of focus for him has been a work-in-progress slider, and should he fine-tune that his game would turn up a notch. Already he is a polished strike-thrower, walking just 17 in 88 innings with New Hampshire.
Equally important, he has a groundout to air out ratio of 1.64, indicating opponents have trouble making regular quality contact against him.
Last week the Blue Jays called up third baseman Brett Lawrie and he collected five hits, including a home run Sunday at Baltimore, in his first series in the majors.
The Blue Jays will need to add Alvarez to their 40-man roster. They have room, as only 38 spots are currently occupied.