Royals' Ventura says he'll be smarter with his heater this season
FEB 05, 2014 3:17p ET
But Ventura, 22, doesn't expect to show off that blazing heater nearly as much this season if he gets another chance in the major leagues.
"I've learned a lot about that," Ventura says through interpreter and Triple-A teammate Christian Colon. "I don't have to throw that hard every time. It's enough to know I have it when I need it.
"But it's about taking a little off or putting more on, even if it's the same pitch, like a curveball. It's all about (disrupting) the timing of the hitter.
"It's not about how hard you throw. It's about locating and how you keep guys off balance."
During three starts last September for the Royals, Ventura admittedly tried too hard to blow the ball by hitters, which is not easy to do at the major league level.
Ventura knows he will need at least a little more trickery next time around. This off-season, he's added a cutter to his repertoire.
"I'm not throwing a slider, I'm throwing a cutter," he says. "I'm working on it hard. I'm hoping it's a pitch to get guys out."
The Royals are eagerly hoping that Ventura's dynamic stuff will make the decision for the fifth spot an easy one for manager Ned Yost and his staff.
"He's definitely got the stuff," Yost says.
“It was the best feeling ever.”
Ventura says he will benefit from last year's September call-up. He gave up just one earned run in each of his first two starts, and each time came within an out of recording a quality start. In all, he was 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 15 1/3 innings.
"It was a big help for me," he says of the call-up. "Now I'm more comfortable with my environment and the guys around me and how things are run in the big leagues. It helped me a lot mentally just to know I can get big leaguers out at any time or any moment. That was big for my confidence."
And Ventura says he will never forget when then-Omaha manager Mike Jirschele called him to give him the news that the Royals were calling him up.
"When I got that call ... there's nothing that beats that," Ventura says. "My mind was kind of drifting (toward the off-season) and going back to the Dominican. We were in Triple A and almost done with the season.
"I wasn't even thinking about the call. But it was the best feeling ever. I won't ever forget that."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.