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Ventura hits 101 mph, then is praised for not trying to throw too hard

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PHOENIX -- Yordano Ventura was praised after another spring pitching gem against the A's for "not trying to throw 110 mph," by Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

But that doesn't mean he didn't come close. Ventura touched 101 mph three times in an impressive 4 1/3-inning, two-hit, one-run, no-walk, six-strikeout performance vs. the A's, and set himself to make the Royals' rotation. And that's no fluke; he'd hit 101 before this spring, and 103 for Triple-A Omaha at Albuquerque last year.

"He keeps getting better. He settled in real well and dominated. Hard not to see him making the club," one scout in attendance said.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore didn't commit to Ventura's ascension when asked about it, but right now he looks like he could make any rotation. He also featured a cutter at 92-95 mph to round out a repertoire that can include as many as five pitches for the little right-hander (5-foot-11).

Royals people behind the scenes will occasionally invoke Pedro Martinez's name, before quickly adding the phrase, "not to say he's going to be another Pedro." Anyway, he looks like a potential star in the making, with only his command to perfect. Ventura said through interpreter/infielder Christian Colon that "my pitches were working" and he "felt great out there."

After he topped 100 mph, the talk in the clubhouse was about how he isn't trying to throw too hard. Ventura said through Colon, "I've been talking to (James) Shields and (Bruce) Chen about not trying to throw 100 mph on every pitch."

Perez, who liked what he saw, veered only slightly from the script, saying, "Sometimes, he tries to throw 110, and I'm trying to calm him down a little bit."

It's hard not to be excited about Ventura's potential. He is vying with lefthander Danny Duffy for the No. 5 starting job. Let's just say Duffy will need to come up with something special to make this a debate.

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