Friday, February 4, 2011

#4 Prospect: Randall Delgado

Randall Delgado gives the Braves yet another exciting, young power pitcher. The Panamanian right-hander turns 21 on Tuesday and will probably break camp with AA Mississippi, which might have the best starting rotation in the minors if system mates Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino are also assigned there.

Delgado profiles similarly to Teheran and Vizcaino but doesn't have as high of a ceiling. He's about a year older than both of them, throws his fastball a tick or two more slowly, and his secondary offerings aren't as refined - which isn't to dump on Delgado, it's just difficult not to talk about him in relation to those two.

Randall was stellar at High-A Myrtle Beach in 2010, striking out more than 25% of batters faced while walking just 32 and giving up 89 hits in 117 IP. Like every other advanced arm in the Braves' system, it seems, Delgado struggled after a late-season promotion to AA. Delgado continued to miss bats, but he had difficulty consistently finding the strike zone (20 BB in 40 2/3 IP).

Delgado projects as a solid #3 starter or a maybe even a #2, and he would probably be a top two prospect in most other systems, but with Teheran and Vizcaino ahead of him, the Braves can afford to trade Delgado if a need arises in the majors (or if the McLouth/Schafer platoon in center becomes manifestly untenable). Alternatively, it would be perhaps more interesting to see if Frank Wren would be amenable to flipping one of the Teheran/Vizcaino/Delgado trio to address this system's only real weakness - a relative dearth of up-the-middle talent.

ETA: The Braves are too stacked with pitching depth to worry about rushing his development. Barring a rash of injuries to the major league pitching staff in the next couple of years, I don't expect to see Delgado in the majors until late 2012 or early 2013. (The Braves have a $9 million club option on Tim Hudson's contract for 2013 with a $1 million buyout).

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