Alburquerque with the Detroit Tigers
|Kansas City Royals – No. 62|
June 10, 1986 |
San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
|April 15, 2011, for the Detroit Tigers|
(through July 14, 2017)
|Earned run average||3.26|
Alberto Jose Alburquerque (Spanish pronunciation: [alβurˈkerke]; born June 10, 1986) is a Dominican professional baseball pitcher for the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in MLB for the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Signed by scout Jose Serra, Alburquerque began his professional career in 2006 with the AZL Cubs, in the Chicago Cubs farm system. He went 0–2 with a 5.98 ERA in eight games (five starts) that season. He also had 15 strikeouts in 12 2⁄3 innings. In 2007, he played for the Boise Hawks and Peoria Chiefs, going a combined 4–6 with a 5.83 ERA in 21 games (10 starts). In 66 1⁄3 innings, he struck out 69 batters. He did not play at all in 2008.[why?]
Alburquerque began the 2009 season in the Cubs system, pitching for the Daytona Cubs. However, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies partway through the season as a player to be named later in a deal that sent Jeff Baker to the Cubs. He finished the season with the Tulsa Drillers. Overall, he went 2–3 with a 2.80 ERA in 47 relief appearances, striking out 75 batters in 61 innings. He pitched for the Drillers again in 2010, going 2–4 with a 4.98 ERA in 25 relief appearances.
Following the 2010 season, he became a free agent and signed a major league contract with the Detroit Tigers on November 19. The Tigers placed him on the team's 40-man roster despite having never appeared in a Major League game. Alburquerque was assigned to the Triple-A affiliate Toledo Mud Hens following spring training, where he appeared in 4 games, with a 1.93 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 4 2⁄3 innings pitched.
Alburquerque made his major league debut on April 15, 2011 against the Oakland Athletics. He struck out the first batter he faced and pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
On August 12, 2011, Alburquerque was hit in the head by a ball hit by Baltimore Orioles Robert Andino during batting practice. He was taken to the hospital and stayed overnight for tests. The next day, the Tigers placed him on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion. He appeared in 41 games for the Tigers in 2011, going 6–1 with a 1.87 ERA. In 43 1⁄3 innings, he allowed only 21 hits, while striking out 67 batters.
Following the 2011 season, it was discovered that Alburquerque had suffered a non-displaced stress fracture in his right (throwing) elbow. He had a screw inserted during surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews, and had an expected recovery time of 6–8 months. On April 24, 2012, he was transferred to the 60-day disabled list, with an earliest possible return date of June 3.
On July 24, 2012, Alburquerque began a rehab assignment with the Lakeland Flying Tigers. On August 3, the organization moved him to the Toledo Mud Hens, with the expectation that the move meant a return to the Major League club in the near future. He appeared in 13 minor league games in 2012, going 1–0 with a 2.57 ERA and striking out 27 batters in 14 innings. He would eventually make his 2012 debut with the Tigers on September 4 against the Cleveland Indians, pitching 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings and striking out one batter. At the major league level, he made eight appearances during the regular season and posted a 0.68 ERA. He had 18 strikeouts in 13 1⁄3 innings.
Alburquerque was placed on the playoff roster for the 2012 American League Division Series against the Oakland Athletics. He made his first appearance of the postseason in Game 2 against Yoenis Céspedes in the bottom of the ninth with men on the corners and two out, and the game tied at four runs apiece. He pitched the Tigers out of the inning, inducing a ground ball back to the mound, and left the game as the pitcher of record. In a moment of levity, he kissed the ball before flipping it softly to Prince Fielder at first to complete the play. Alburquerque earned the win when Don Kelly hit an RBI sacrifice fly to right to win the game in the bottom of the inning. Alburquerque also pitched one scoreless inning of relief in Game 4 of the same series.
Alburquerque threw 49 innings out of the Tiger bullpen in 2013, finishing with a 4.59 ERA. After allowing no home runs in 2011 and 2012, he surrendered five in 2013. In the Tigers 2013 postseason run, he pitched in 4 2⁄3 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out nine batters.
Alburquerque reached a career-high 57 1⁄3 innings in relief in 2014, posting a 2.51 ERA while striking out 63 batters. He also had a career-low walk rate of 3.3 per 9 innings.
On January 24, 2015, Alburquerque and the Tigers avoided arbitration agreeing on a one-year, $1.725 million contract. Alburquerque pitched a career-high 62 innings out of the bullpen in 2015, posting a 4–1 record and 4.21 ERA.
On December 2, 2015 the Tigers announced they would not tender a contract to Alburquerque, making him a free agent.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
On January 19, 2016, Alburquerque signed a 1-year, $1.1 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. On March 29, the Angels optioned Alburquerque to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees. He was designated for assignment on May 21. He was released on August 13, 2016.
Kansas City Royals
On January 7, 2017, Alburquerque signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals that included an invitation to spring training. The Royals promoted him to the major leagues on May 10.
Alburquerque is a three-pitch pitcher. He throws a hard four-seam fastball that ranges between 94–98 mph, and his "out pitch" is a downward-breaking slider that ranges between 85–88 mph. The slider is his most common pitch, especially with two strikes in the count; it has a 60% whiff rate, the fifth-highest for a slider among relief pitchers since the 2007 season. His best pitch is what scouts call the "Cross Curve" that "breaks this way, and then that way." His strikeouts per 9 innings pitched ratio is above the league average, sitting at 11.0 through the end of the 2015 season. He also has a high walk rate at 5.0 per 9 innings. Alburquerque was effective in the 2011 season at stranding inherited baserunners, allowing only 3 of 31 to score.
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