I just recently wrapped up an exploration into the unsung gems pitching in the Rockies’ deceptively deep farm system stretching from Low-A to Triple-A over a month. Due to the nature of weekly releases and the steady and unstoppable forward march of time, there are bound to be pitchers who pop up or names that I might have missed. A whole lot can happen in a month, which brings me to today’s topic: we should all be talking a whole lot more about Fresno Grizzlies starting pitcher Victor Juárez.
Hailing from Monterrey in Nuevo León, Mexico (the same city as beloved all-time Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa), Juárez signed with the Rockies as an international free agent in 2019. His professional career really started in 2021 when he played for the Colorado Rockies’ Dominican Summer League team and later their Arizona Complex League team. After success at both of those levels and having a well developed pitch arsenal, Juárez began 2022 assigned to the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies. It all sounds fairly straightforward, but here’s the caveat: Victor Juárez is just 18 years old. Not only is he the youngest arm in the Grizzlies’ pitching staff, but Juárez is the youngest player on the entire team.
Victor Juárez 2021 Pitching Stats
Juárez was phenomenal during his time in the Dominican Summer League. He gave up just seven total hits and walked just six batters over 26 2⁄3 innings without giving up single home run. His 0.68 ERA was by far the best on the DSL Rockies that season—ranking second best all time in DSL Rockies history—while his 3.7 H/9 was a full hit lower than the next man up.
Juárez joined the ACL Rockies in September and made three appearances in the desert. Don’t let the lopsided 6.30 ERA fool you, though, because he pitched very well in two of those three appearances as the youngest member of the pitching staff. In his first outing he pitched three hitless, scoreless innings while striking out four. Juárez may have struggled in his second ACL appearance by giving up five earned runs on seven hits and a home run, but command wasn’t the issue. In his three innings of work he still struck out four batters and didn’t walk a soul. Juárez only walked one total batter over his ten ACL innings. He immediately rebounded his next time on the mound with five strikeouts and just two earned runs over four complete innings.
Though he will be turning 19 next week, Juárez is pitching like a collegiate pitcher several years his senior with a very well developed arsenal of at least three pitches. His four seam fastball currently hits around 91-92 MPH with some rising action that he locates consistently. His put-away pitch is a curveball with 12-6 action described by Pitcher List as “disgusting.” He also throws an already-well developed changeup that he can generate whiffs on. Most importantly, he throws all of these pitches for strikes.
Even when he was 16-years old, Baseball America praised “his ability to throw strikes with a three-pitch mix” and “mixing his offspeed pitches in liberally, landing his curveball and changeup in the zone well for his age, with a good delivery, poise, and pitchability relative to his peers.”
Juárez has definitely built on that as that since signing with the Rockies organization. In Fresno he has the fewest walks of anyone in the Grizzlies rotation with at least seven starts and one of the best BB/9 of the pitching staff, period. Meanwhile he’s one of three starting pitchers with over 50 strikeouts and he leads the rotation in ERA. He also leads the entire team in WHIP and H/9.
Victor Juárez - Fresno Grizzlies 2022
I had Juárez on my radar, but didn’t include him on my list of pitchers shining down in Low-A Fresno. I am pleased to admit that I look very foolish for excluding him, especially considering that he was already pitching very well and everything he’s accomplished since that article was published on May 19th. In his four starts since May 19th, Juárez has thrown 23 innings and given up just three earned runs and three walks for a 1.17 ERA. He’s struck out 23 batters and hasn’t given up a single home run. Opposing batters slashed just .145/.177/.184 against him over his last four starts. Three of his last four starts were six innings of shutout baseball where he allowed just three hits or less. On the season as a whole thus far Juárez has an ERA of 2.41 while opposing batters are slashing just .197/.256/.273 against him. If he continues to perform this well, it’s not out of the question that he could be promoted to the High-A Spokane Indians in the near future.
Victor Juárez deserves to be on a lot more radars than he might currently be. An 18-year-old with an arsenal of pitches developed beyond his years and finding success in professional baseball should excite anyone. It should especially excite Colorado Rockies fans, who are consistently told their farm system is sub par despite having so many gems shining within it.
★ ★ ★
What do the Dodgers know that the Rockies don’t? Yency Almonte offers another test case | The Athletic ($)
We might be used to it by now. A player leaves the Rockies and excels to new heights with their new team. Yency Almonte threw a 7.55 ERA with the Rockies in 2021. Now he’s throwing a 1.17 ERA with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022. The Dodgers brought in Almonte with a simple but effective promise: “we are going to make you better.” After being exposed to tools and data he had never seen with the Rockies organization, as well as revamping his pitch arsenal, Almonte is having a career season in his new uniform.
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
The Grizzlies simply couldn’t keep up in an absolute slugfest that included five total home runs across both teams. After six consecutive quality starts, Grizzlies starter Case Williams failed to make it through six innings for the first time since April ended. Williams gave up seven runs—six earned—on ten hits and two walks while allowing two home runs. He struck out just two batters in 5 1⁄3 innings. The bullpen got smacked around too, giving up a further five runs. The Grizzlies scored six runs on nine hits, including three home runs from Hunter Goodman, Braxton Fulford, and Adael Amador. Yanquiel Fernandez, Trevor Boone, Goodman and Fulford all had multi-hit games.
The pitching staff of the Spokane Indians had an absolutely fantastic day, blanking the Hillsboro Hops while holding them to just three total hits—all of which came in the seventh inning or later. Starter Tony Locey pitched a gem, striking out seven batters across six innings of shutout baseball without giving up a single hit. Luke Taggart continued his strong season with two innings and three strikeouts. Boby Johnson did allow two hits, but kept things scoreless with a strikeout in the ninth. DH Ronaiker Palma was 3-for-4 while scoring two of the Indians’ four runs, while Bladimir Restituyo was 2-for-4. Only two of Spokane’s four runs were earned.
Yard Goats starting pitcher Noah Davis was shelled by Akron, yielding nine earned runs on 11 hits—including two home runs—over the course of 3 2⁄3 innings. Every member of the Yard Goats bullpen gave up at least one run as they tried to stop the bleeding: one each from Will Gaddis and Riley Pint, and two from Dugan Darnell. The offense scored just three runs on six hits while going 1-for-7 with RISP. Ezequiel Tovar was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI while Brenton Doyle drove in two runs with a triple.
This one ended up being a bullpen game for both teams, but the Isotopes were trailing early when Ashton Goudeau gave up six earned runs on eight hits and two walks over 2 2⁄3 innings. Heath Holder was credited with the win after 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings, while Dillon Overton, Nick Kennedy, and Nate Griep all worked scoreless outings of their own. JD Hammer allowed two earned runs, but by that point the Isotopes were so far ahead that it didn’t really matter. The Isotopes unloaded seven runs in the fourth inning and another six in the sixth. All but one member of the Isotopes’ starting lineup had at least one hit, while Ryan Vilade, Scott Schebler, Carlos Pérez, Sean Bouchard, and Elehuris Montero all had multi-hit days at the plate. Albuquerque also walloped an astounding eight home runs, two a-piece for Vilade and Bouchard, and one each for Pérez and Montero, Coco Montes, and Bret Boswell.
THAT'S A TOPES RECORD!— Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes) June 16, 2022
Elehuris Montero bashes a two-run clout, meaning Albuquerque has hit eight home runs in one game for the first time in club history!!
E8: Isotopes 20, Bees 8 pic.twitter.com/UfspiIiBUw
★ ★ ★
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