Meet Loons Alfredo Tavarez
Last Friday evening 20-year-old right-hander Alfredo Tavarez pitched his second scoreless seven-inning start for the Loons in his last three starts.The native of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic was signed as an international free agent by the Dodgers on December 21, 2015. He did not go unnoticed in the Dominican Summer League in 2016 posting a 1.53 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP in 53 innings pitched while splitting his time almost equally between the DSL Dodgers 1 and DSL Dodgers 2.During the 2017 season Tavarez came stateside beginning the season with the AZL Dodgers where he posted a 3.52 ERA and a WHIP of 0.91 in 30.2 innings pitched over nine appearances. In mid-August he was promoted to the Great Lakes Loons and returned to a starting role experiencing some growing pains at the Class-A level. In five starts over 20.1 innings he posted a 5.40 ERA while striking out 19 and walking 13.The 6’5”/190-pound Tavarez began the 2018 with the Loons and experienced some additional growing pains. In two relief appearances he pitched 6.1 innings and gave up six earned runs while striking out seven and walking four. His last appearance was on April 19 and then he was sent back to extended spring training.I expect we often wonder what happens within the Dodgers development program and especially extended spring training. With Alfredo Tavares something definitely happened.He returned to the Loons on May 28 and in his first start he threw five hitless innings while walking three and striking out four.What had be accomplished in his extended spring training ? According to Loons pitching coach Bobby Cuellar the work the 20-year-old put in at extended spring training in Arizona was evident. He saw what Tavarez had accomplished.
“Everything you need to become a pitcher,” Cuellar said. “And today, he showed it off.”“Our pitcher came back in better shape with a better idea and a very aggressive attack,” Cuellar said.
Cuellar indicated Tavarez commanded his fastball while working in his changeup and mixing in a couple of curveballs. The other aspect of his game he was charged with improving was to better control the running game. He did just that.
“When a young guy learns to handle himself on the mound, he can handle anything,” Cuellar said. “If you learn it now, you never have to worry about it.”
Cuellar paid tribute to both Tavarez and the Dodgers organization.
“The movement of the body, the throw, the circle of the arm was so fluid,” he said. “When you see somebody throw it [like that], you can see the ball jump out of his hand really well. Kudos to the young man and the organization.”
Since that first game at the end of May, Tavarez has made 12 starts and now owns a 2.65 ERA while striking out 52 in 71.1 innings and walking 32. He has not allowed a home run this season. In his last 35.1 innings pitched he has allowed two earned runs.On Friday evening Tavarez gave up three hits in his seven innings, walked one and struck out four. He threw 90 pitches, 57 of them strikes. Unfortunately reliever Mark Washington gave up two runs in the the top of the ninth inning sending the Loons to a 2-0 loss.