Prospect of the Day: Randall Delgado, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves right-hander Randall Delgado made a spot start in the majors in June, and was brilliant in his first outing for Triple-A Gwinnett last weekend. While teammate Julio Teheran gets more attention, Delgado is a fine prospect himself and has the talent needed to take an important role on the major league staff.
The Braves signed Delgado out of Panama in 2006. He wasn't a big-name signing, but he pitched well in the 2007 Dominican Summer League, then brought his skills forward to the Appalachian League in 2008, with a 3.13 ERA and an 81/30 K/BB in just 69 innings for Danville. Although his ERA rose to 4.35 for Low-A Rome in 2009, his excellent 141/49 K/BB ratio in 124 innings was more indicative of his talent level. His FIP was much better than his ERA at 3.20.
Last year he was strong for High-A Myrtle Beach (2.76 ERA, 120/32 K/BB in 117 innings, just 89 hits). He scuffled with his command in eight starts for Double-A Mississippi late in the year, then returned to that level this year and posted a 3.84 ERA with a 110/46 K/BB in 117 innings, with 116 hits allowed. He made his first Triple-A start on August 6th, throwing six shutout innings while fanning nine.
Delgado made one spot start for the Braves back on June 17th, giving up four runs and seven hits in four innings to the Texas Rangers.
A 6-3, 200 pound, 21 year-old right-hander, Delgado works with a 90-96 MPH fastball, averaging right around 93. His curveball and changeup are both rated as potential plus pitches. Although both are still somewhat inconsistent, both are advanced given his age, and the hard curve (sometimes it looks like a slider) is particularly impressive on his best days.
His main problem is command within the strike zone. He doesn't give up huge numbers of walks, but his ability to locate his pitches varies from start to start. His stuff is often overpowering, but at times he'll leave something hittable too high in the strike zone. All of this is normal for a young pitcher; given his age, Delgado has done quite well.
From a sabermetric point of view, Delgado's strikeout rate has been gradually declining as he moves up the ladder, which is a warning sign that he should not be rushed. If I were the Braves, I'd try to get him 20 starts in Triple-A next year before pushing him into extensive major league action. Although he needs more polish right now, Delgado's stuff is good enough for him to be a number two or strong number three starter in the medium and long runs, provided he stays healthy and makes further progress with his command.