Ventura Highway! Canaries trade for Milwaukee starter
New Canaries pitcher Angel Ventura. Photo courtesy Milwaukee Milkmen
The Sioux Falls Canaries are hopping on the Ventura Highway, acquiring their potential 2021 ace on Tuesday.
"Electric" sinkerballer and former Triple-A pitcher Angel Ventura -- who Birds manager Mike Meyer calls the American Association's best pitcher of 2019 -- is coming to Sioux Falls via trade with defending champion Milwaukee for a player to be named later.
With the 10-year minor league veteran, may the Birds be in the sunshine, "where the days are longer, the nights stronger than moonshine," and the free wind blowin' through their hair.
Alligator lizards in the air, in the air!
(Sorry, we can't help but hear the song "Ventura Highway" by America, whose beat you may recall Janet Jackson using in "Someone to Call My Lover," ringing in our heads while imagining Angel in a yellow Birds jersey.)
In 2019 with the Milkmen, Ventura posted career bests in starts (20), wins (6), ERA (2.76), innings (130.2) and strikeouts (108), while only giving up seven home runs. In 2020, he lasted six innings in each of his first two starts -- both wins -- before succombing to injury and being limited the rest of the season.
Meyer feels like Ventura's sunshine shall return in Sioux Falls in 2021, and he could be front man of a staff that returns some of its most reliable pitchers that got the Birds to the American Association Finals in 2020, plus some young, fresh arms.
"Ventura has an electric sinker and a sharp slider which allows him to pitch to contact and avoid barrels," Meyer said. "No doubt, he'll be battling for the Number One spot in our rotation this season."
To Meyer's point, in his 10 seasons of pro baseball in rookie, affiliated, independent, Dominican Summer, and Venezuelan Winter leagues, Ventura sports an under-4 ERA and has given up just 63 home runs in almost 800 innings, or one dinger every 14 innings.
A 27-year-old righthander from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Ventura's professional baseball career started at age 18 with the Milwaukee Brewers' Dominican Summer League team in 2011, and he made his affiliated ball debut with Class A Wisconsin in 2015.
He started 13 games for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox in 2017, posting a 6-4 record and 4.06 ERA over 77.2 innings in 14 appearances -- striking out 52 batters and giving up just six home runs.
In his eight minor league seasons, Ventura went 36-33 with a 4.11 ERA in 68 starts over 141 appearances, with a 2.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 8.3 K's per every nine innings. He was dominant in his first season of independent ball in 2018, going 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA in five starts late in the season with San Rafael of the Pacific Association.
Ventura then had his best season as a full-fledged pro with the Milkmen in 2019. After thinking 2020 would be a lost year like it was for most of the thousands of minor league players during the pandemic, Ventura returned to Milwaukee for the shortened American Association season in July but suffered from pitching arm soreness, appearing only three times after July 15.
"He's in much better shape and he is prepared for the season," Meyer said.
Indeed, may his starts be longer, his arm stronger, and the Canaries 2021 season crying no despair on Ventura Highway.
Alligator lizards in the air! In the air!
(Sorry, can't help it.)
The Birds have also returned big bats in Sioux Falls native Logan Landon, Jabari Henry, and Mike Hart, and added towering sluggers Troy Alexander and Nate Etheridge, plus reliable middle infielder Zane Gurwitz. Click to here to read more about the team's roster building.
The 2020 season schedule is out, so check it out! The Birds open the season and home slate at The Birdcage on May 18. For season ticket and group ticket information, call the box office at 605-336-6060.