Cristian Javier stepped off of the mound and paced towards the dugout for what figured to be his last inning pitching on November 2nd. You would have thought he had just pitched in a run of the mill regular season game for the Houston Astros with how cool and collected he appeared.
Javier had pitched six no-hit innings in an extremely important Game Four of the 2022 World Series. He was nearly perfect, and completely stifled a lineup that hit five home runs the previous night. He silenced a crowd that nearly created seismic activity the night before.
Javier owns a 0.71 ERA, .051 batting average against, and a .50 WHIP in 12 innings of postseason pitching. He has given up two runs in his last eight starts dating back to the regular season. He has dominated with his fastball, which per Baseball Savant has 20% more rise to it than your average fastball. His fastball rises three inches higher than the average, making it extremely difficult for hitters to barrel it.
In fact, his fastball has a -18 run value created, which ranks in the top 20 in the majors for all pitchers and their assorted pitches. It ranks comparatively to Max Sherzer’s slider, Spencer Strider’s fastball, and Corbin Burnes’ devastating cutter.
Javier gave the Astros the exact jolt that they needed to potentially go on and win the World Series, in a stadium that a visiting team had not won in the 2022 playoffs. His path to the majors was less than ideal though.
Cristian Javier was a needle in a haystack for Houston Astors
Per Brian McTaggart, Oz Ocampo is the Astros international cross checker, and he found out about Cristian Javier when he was provided videos from other Astros scouts in the Dominican Republic. The videos depicted Javier pitching at almost 18 years old, and were enough to influence Ocampo and the Astros to sign Javier to a $10,000 contract.
Per Baseball America, just over 54% of international signings are aged 16 years old, which is when they first become eligible. Only 13% of major league internationally signed pitchers were 18 when signed. Normally, teams are counting down the days they become eligible to sign, and are ready to slam a contract into their face.
The other point of significance is the signing bonus. Compared to the $3.85 million bonus that Wander Franco received, $10,000 doesn’t instill a lot of confidence.
The rising action in Javier’s fastball is one of the exact reasons that Ocampo made the decision to sign him, paired with his sweeping slider. Those exact attributes are what helped him rise quickly through the Houston Astros farm system, and wind up exactly where he is today.
Ocampo noted that Javier’s delivery mechanics look extremely similar to when he was scouted. Many can learn valuable lessons from Cristian Javier, but the most important is this: Everyone has their own path, and as long as you stay true to yourself and continue to grind, you will find success.