Right-hander Yordano Ventura, the Royals’ top pitching prospect, is heading to Class AAA Omaha after club officials concluded he has nothing more to prove at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
The promotion came Monday on Ventura’s 22nd birthday and two days after he lowered his ERA to 2.34 by pitching five scoreless innings in a no-decision against San Antonio.
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“He’s just had an outstanding first half of the season,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. “He’s really controlling the strike zone exceptionally well.”
Ventura was 3-2 for the Naturals but racked up 74 strikeouts in 572/3innings while compiling a 1.02 walks (20) and hits (39) per inning (WHIP).
“He’s had a really high strike percentage,” Picollo said, “and he kept repeating it outing after outing. That’s exactly what we needed to see before we were comfortable in moving him to Triple-A.
“The time is right for it. We’re not quite at the halfway mark, but we’re close to it. We want him to face some more mature hitters at this point.”
Perez expected back
Catcher Salvy Perez is scheduled to return Tuesday to active duty after missing nine days on bereavement leave following the unexpected death of his maternal grandmother in Venezuela.
Players are only permitted a maximum of seven days for bereavement leave. Thereafter, they are placed on the suspended list, and their pay is docked for lost time.
Club officials say the delay in Perez’s return stemmed primarily from his efforts to arrange for his mother to live permanently in the United States.
Alex Gordon is the only Royals player listed among the leaders in initial American League balloting update for the All-Star Game.
Gordon is eighth among outfielders with 522,483 votes, which puts him nearly 240,000 behind Detroit’s Torii Hunter for the final starting spot in the AL outfield for the July 16 game at Citi Field in New York.
Major League Baseball’s weekly releases only cite balloting totals for the top five vote-getters at each position except outfield, where it releases the top 15.
The Royals have not had a player voted to a starting position since outfielder Jermaine Dye in 2000.
While Ventura is getting a promotion, right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the club’s No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, continues to struggle at Hi-A Wilmington.
Zimmer is 0-5 with a 5.54 ERA after yielding five runs in six innings Sunday in a 5-3 loss to Frederick.
Picollo admits the Royals find Zimmer’s ongoing struggles to be “a bit baffling at times” because he continues to exhibit plus stuff and plus command.
“The grades are phenomenal on his pitches,” Picollo said. “They’re all well above average. Anywhere from 60 to 80 (on an 20-80 scale) on his grades every night.
“As we start breaking down start by start, his pitch selection needs to get better. He’s just not going to be able to out-stuff hitters. He’s going through the learning process a little sooner than we expected.
“From a delivery standpoint and a stuff standpoint, it’s everything and then some. Right now, we have to be a little more patient than we anticipated. But that’s OK. I think in the end it will speed up (his development).”