The 2018 season was the first for Jose Salvador as a professional and the left-handed pitcher dominated the Dominican Summer League. He posted a 1.18 ERA as an 18-year-old in 53.1 innings with 72 strikeouts. With that performance the Cincinnati Reds had plenty of confidence that he was ready to come stateside. After extended spring training they were confident enough in him to skip him over the Arizona Rookie League and they sent him to join the Appalachian League affiliate the Greeneville Reds when their 2019 season was set to begin in mid-June.
The first start of the season for the now 19-year-old Jose Salvador came on opening night in Greeneville. There was some give-and-take. On one side of the coin, the lefty struck out six batters and had just one walk in 3.2 innings. On the other side he allowed three runs in that start – with a 2-run homer ending his outing in the top of the 4th inning. He would rebound in his next start, giving up just one run over 4.0 innings on the road to Bristol. But things were a struggle in his next two outings. Both starts lasted 4.0 innings and he allowed four and five earned runs in each of them. Through four starts his ERA was 7.47 and he had allowed 23 hits in 15.2 innings pitched.
Things began to change in the middle of July. His 5th start of the year came against Danville on July 10th. Over the next five weeks he ran off seven starts for Greeneville – highlighted by an 11 strikeout performance on August 12th – where he threw 30.2 innings with a 3.82 ERA, 12 walks, and 43 strikeouts. With the Greeneville Reds out of playoff contention, Cincinnati promoted the young left-hander to Billings for the remainder of the season to help try and get them into the playoffs. And that’s what he did.
There wasn’t much time left in the regular season. But Jose Salvador made three starts to end the season for the Mustangs, posting a 3.86 ERA with three walks and 15 strikeouts in 11.2 innings pitched. He would also start the final game of the playoffs – a win-or-go-home game against Idaho Falls. Unfortunately rain came in and suspended the game in the middle of the 2nd inning. Salvador had struck out the side in his only inning of work.
For all 2019 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Jose Salvador Scouting Report
Position: Left-handed pitcher | B/T: L/L
Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 170 lbs | Acquired: Intl. FA – Signed July 3, 2017
Born: September 21, 1999
Fastball | The pitch works in the 90-94 MPH range.
Curveball | Currently an above-average offering, but it will flash itself as a plus offering every so often.
Change Up | It’s a below-average offering right now, but he throws it with good arm speed and it could be a fringe-average offering in the future.
There’s a lot to like with Jose Salvador. In 2019 he had a bunch of strikeouts and was stingy with his walks, showing off good control – particularly with his fastball and curveball. As it is with many young players, there’s a lot of projection needing to be accounted for. And it’s there with Salvador. As he fills out his frame he’s expected to add velocity. As he continues to get more experience his curveball should get more consistent – as should his change up.
Jose Salvador has the pieces there to be a future Major League starter. With a potential plus breaking ball, a solid fastball that could have above-average velocity, and a third offering that could at least be usable – the pitches are there. To this point in his career he’s also shown good control, too. He’ll need to continue to develop all of his stuff, and just as importantly, remain healthy. How much velocity he can gain moving forward could be the determining factor between how he projects long term. If the velocity climbs into the low-to-mid 90’s you’re talking more of a mid-rotation possibility. Right now, though, there’s more #4/5 starter potential here. With that said he’s certainly one of the pitchers from rookie ball to keep an eye on moving forward in the organization.
Interesting Stat on Jose Salvador
He had enormous splits during the season. Right-handed hitters had a .227/.273/.349 line against him in 187 plate appearances. Left-handed hitters crushed him to the tune of .362/.433/.638 in 67 plate appearances.
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