A native of Guarenas, Venezuela, Royber Salinas was an unheralded signing in October 2018. He kicked around the system a bit for three years with mixed success before finally coming into his own in 2022 with a breakout campaign. This step forward put his name on the map and made him one of the names used to wrench Sean Murphy away from Oakland.
Preseason Report Card
Salinas was barely on the radar as a player who was known to put up gaudy strikeout totals, but had limited exposure in full-season ball. Without pedigree or track record, he was able to come into the season mostly unknown for us and was seen as a fringe arm at best given that he was 21 years old at Low-A.
What we saw in 2022
Immediately, Salinas became one of the more impressive arms in the system and debuted with an 11-strikeout performance for the GreenJackets. He backed that up with five one-hit innings and 13 strikeouts and suddenly became the name to watch in the system. He struck out 52 batters in 23 2⁄3 innings across five starts before getting a quick promotion to Rome. At High-A, Salinas command became more of an issue and he was not able to perform as consistently as his unbelievable early season run. He had highlights like a 13-strikeout performance on May 28, but ended up with just decent overall numbers at the level. In 20 starts Salinas posted a 4.11 ERA with an impressive 123 strikeouts in 85 1⁄3 innings to go along with 51 walks. Salinas he showed a dazzling upper-90s fastball with electric carry up in the zone. When he mixed that heater with an above-average slider, he was simply too much for lower level hitters to handle. His command and delivery were his major concerns, however and the walks were ultimately his undoing on many occasions in 2022. All in all, his High-A stint featured a 3.66 FIP and 3.89 xFIP, which aren’t bad but also aren’t that exciting given that it came in the low minors.
Now a member of the Athletics, Salinas has a chance to remain a starter for the time being. He didn’t face any injury issues in 2022 but there is still plenty of concern that given a high-effort delivery and poor athleticism, he may not improve his command much and will be pushed into a bullpen role. His stuff is phenomenal and he could still be an electric late-inning relief arm, but it doesn’t seem that he is destined for a rotation long-term. For now we will witness his career from afar and see if he can follow up his 175 strikeouts in 109 innings with another good year.