With the Atlanta Braves shipping Derek Lowe off to Cleveland, they must now look to round out a starting rotation that is sure to include TIm Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens (if he is not traded) and Brandon Beachy. Among their candidates is the highly touted Randall Delgado.
Delgado, who will be 22 on Opening Day, went 1-1 in seven starts late in the season and posted a strong 2.83 ERA in 35 innings. He had already posted a 7-7 record in 25 starts between Double-A and Triple-A.
Delgado is listed at 6'3" and 200 pounds (and wears his socks up), and his fastball tops out around 96 miles per hour with a good curve and change-up. He is a power pitcher with a penchant for strikeouts. Though he only struck out 18 batters in 35 innings in the big leagues last year, he has averaged about nine strikeouts per nine innings in his four years in the minors.
The downside to Delgado when he was called up was his control. A 3.6 walks per nine innings rate may not be terrible, every pitcher for the Braves who started, including Lowe, had a lower ratio. On the bright side, Delgado usually seems to struggle with command for a spell at each new level before getting his bearings, and one would assume his strikeout total would also climb with experience.
Any shred of success, however, is contingent upon Delgado keeping his off-speed pitches down in the zone. He already has a slight tendency toward flyball outs, and he gave up a home run for every seven innings he pitched. The fact that opponents only hit .220 against him in 2011 is an indicator that he can mix it up enough to keep them from hitting it THAT hard to keep the ball in the yard, though it is easy to imagine how dominant he can be once Roger McDowell gets a hold of him and teaches him how to keep those pitches low.
Frank Wren has previously indicated that he wanted to hold onto the Braves' load of minor league pitching talent for the future. Delgado will see his time in the rotation come, at least by 2013, but a solid Spring Training performance and/or the Braves dealing Jair Jurrjens may give him an opportunity for his first full Major League season.
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