Many experts categorize Frank Abel Álvarez as the top pitching prospect in current day. Armed with a mid-90’s fastball, an sharp splitter and an array of breaking pitches the 25 year old has an electric repertoire.
Last year Álvarez caught the eye of the Nippon League’s Chunichi Dragons and the ball club signed him to a development contract. In his brief time with Chunichi’s top farm club he sports a record of 0-1, ERA of 4.86 and 10 strikeouts.
This spring the right-hander was part of Cuba’s World Baseball Classic team that reached the semifinals of the tournament. In 2⅔ innings pitched in tournament Álvarez allowed an earned run and struck out three hitters.
Debutando en el #WBC2023 el talentoso pitcher vueltabajero Frank Abel Álvarez. El miembro de la organización de los Chunichi Dragons de la NPB, se convierte en el séptimo lanzador oriundo de La provincia de Pinar del Río en ver acción en un #WorldBaseballClassic. pic.twitter.com/f9qoZnc2Ew
— Drian Bernal ⚾️ / 🇨🇺🇪🇨 (@Drianrogelio) March 10, 2023
How did your experience in the World Classic help you improve as a pitcher?
It was the greatest experience of my life, being able to participate with MLB players and at the same time I faced some of the best hitters in the world. I think it was a great step in my career and a great learning experience.
Compare the level of play in the WBC with that of the NPB?
I think that the Classic is the biggest baseball event globally, the best players on the planet meet and compete in that tournament. The NPB is a very complete league and that was on display with its first place in the WBC. The league won the tournament in spite missing some of their best players.
What did you work on during the offseason?
Well, in Cuba we worked very hard this offseason and I had to do my preseason with the national team preparing for the WBC. If not for the tournament I would have been training in Okinawa with Chunichi in preparation for the season. I worked a lot on my command, on strengthening my body and on my mechanics before the season. What very few people know is that I’ve only been a pitcher for 6 years, I didn’t pitch in the lower categories in Cuba. I started to pitch at 19 and I am currently 25. I have been working very hard and thank God I have been able to come a long way in a short amount of time.
Do you have any goals in Japan for the season?
My main goal is to get called up to the big club. In addition to that I am going to continue working very hard, which is what will pave my way to the big leagues in Japan.
How has Raidel Martínez’s advice helped you in your development in the Chunichi’s farm system?
I think Raidel (Martínez) and (Liván) Moinelo have been a very essential to my career for a few years now, being able to have two of the world’s most elite pitchers by my side is a privilege and their advice motivates me even more, Raidel inspires me. He has guided me little by little to follow in his footsteps and gradually climb through the organization as he been able to do here with Chunichi.
Will you pitch this winter in any league?
Well, as of now I have a contract with the Chunichi Dragons and I hope to continue here working hard and keep improving year after year.