Name: Randall Delgado
Notable 2011 Stats: 3.84 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 11 HRA, 46 BB, 110 K, and 43% GB% in 117 1/3 IP with Mississippi (AA);
4.15 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 4 HRA, 11 BB, 25 K, and 46% GB% in 21 2/3 IP with Gwinnett (AAA);
3.88 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 15 HRA, 57 BB, 135 K, and 44% GB% in 139 IP in minors;
2.83 ERA, 5.14 FIP, 5 HRA, 13 BB, 18 K, and 38.4% GB% in 35 IP with Braves
Why He’s This High: Delgado made it to the majors at age 21 and wasn’t awful, which says a fair bit about his potential. He pitched quite well in Double-A and then struck out over a batter per inning in a brief period in Triple-A before reaching Atlanta, and while he didn’t dazzle with the Braves, he showed excellent potential.
Delgado throws two plus pitches: a 90-95 mph fastball and a devastating changeup. The changeup allows him to get lots of strikeouts to lefties, and he does a great job spotting the heater away to righties. His ability to consistently locate the ball away from hitters makes it tough for them to turn on pitches, and he’s put up low BABIPs for the last two years, including .220 in his brief MLB stint–it’s possible that he’ll be better at limiting hits than most.
Delgado handled a 174-inning workload in 2011 and was still touching 94 mph in his final start, so his durability is far more established than most pitching prospects. He also worked 161 innings in 2010, and he’s a relatively big pitcher with a clean delivery.
Why He’s This Low: Delgado still has a number of refinements to make. His third pitch is a slurve that isn’t much more than a show pitch in the big leagues, and he desperately needs to come up with more of a true slider or curve that’ll give hitters a different look. Right now, he’s too one-dimensional, throwing a ton of fastballs away from righties and fastballs and changeups away to lefties. That’s going to leave him with little margin for error once the scouting reports on him get around to MLB teams. This isn’t a Josh Collmenter situation–Delgado’s delivery is extremely clean and doesn’t give him any deception, so he has to rely on his stuff and command.
Delgado’s posted a walk rate below 3.50 BB/9 exactly once, at High-A in 2010. He’s also not a big groundball pitcher. One of those skills will have to develop if he’s going to pitch toward the front of a rotation.
Conclusions: Delgado has polish and two plus pitches; he’s durable, somewhat MLB-tested, and just turns 22 in February. That’s a collection of positives few can boast; however, his lack of any deception or a third pitch is a hindrance, and while we can excuse a lot of his statistical inconsistency to youth, it’s still cause for some trepidation. It’s easy to see Delgado tightening up his breaking ball, learning how to pitch inside more, and becoming a great #2 starter, but if he doesn’t make those adjustments, he’ll be more frustrating. I’ll put it this way–he could have the age-25 season of Edinson Volquez, but he could also have the age-27 season of Edinson Volquez.
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