StrategyAugust 8, 2011


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Future Rookies: Week 19

By Josh Shepardson

Much virtual ink has been spilled on these pages about the top pitching prospect in minor league baseball. His dominance since being promoted to Triple-A warrants further lauding though. Also featured this week is a recent Braves farmhand who got his first taste of Triple-A, after already being called up for a spot start on the parent club earlier in the year.

Matt Moore, RP, Tampa Bay, 22 years old

*Listed as a relief pitcher because of his position designation in the Yahoo! player database. He is a starting pitching prospect.

 IPWBBKERAWHIP
2011 AA102.18281312.200.94
2011 AAA24.235391.090.77

There are no shortage of flowery adjectives that could be used to describe the pitching performance of Matt Moore this season. His stuff is blue chip quality, and he’s putting it to good use as his stats would indicate. Such strong play means the Rays will probably manipulate his service time in a way to prevent him from reaching free agency until he’s filing for Social Security and enjoying senior citizen discounts, but those are the breaks. In all seriousness, Moore has nothing left to prove, and could be rewarded for his outstanding play with a cup of coffee when rosters expand in September.

The question becomes, could he open in the Rays 2012 rotation? The answer to that question lies largely in what happens in the next round of collective bargaining this offseason. It has been rumored that the current “Super Two,” system will be amended or scrapped all together, which would help his cause greatly. Even if the current system remains unchanged, the Rays opted not to deal B.J. Upton or James Shields at the deadline, so it’s possible they are preparing to make another run at the division, or at least the wild card next year. If that’s the case, they’d be helping their cause by trotting out their best five starters as early as possible, and that includes Moore. Wade Davis has taken a step back this season regardless of preferred metrics of performance, making for a perfect rotation opening, and given the considerably lower ceiling of Alex Cobb, one that should be Moore’s. Get excited folks, the time is near for Moore to strut his stuff in the show.

Randall Delgado, SP, Atlanta, 21 years old

 IPWBBKERAWHIP
2011 AA117.15461103.841.38
2011 AAA6.01390.001.00
2011 MLB4.00226.752.25

Not as polished as some of the other Braves arms such as Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and perhaps Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado is a high ceiling prospect in his own right and not that far from being a big league regular none-the-less. The Braves have the enviable problem of too many high quality arms knocking on the door of the majors, and not enough room in the rotation. Delgado is just the latest evidence that they have a knack for developing pitchers. Already on the 40 man roster, he could be a September call-up. Unlike Moore, he’s unlikely to have the opportunity to crack the Braves 2012 rotation out of the gate, and that’s okay as he could use more seasoning.

The biggest fly in the ointment in Delgado’s game is a walk rate that hasn’t been below 3.53 BB/9 in the high minors, which was his mark in Double-A this year. Such a walk rate is passable with his strong strikeout rate, but with no need to rush him, the Braves would be best suited attempting to reduce that just a tad bit. Even if they keep him in Triple-A all of next year, he’d be just 23 years old entering the 2013 season. Put another way, he’d still be almost a full year younger then, than Minor is now getting a chance filling in for Jair Jurrjens, and over a year younger than rookie Brandon Beachy was when he won a rotation spot this spring. All members of the Braves rotation are under contract, or under team control next season, and Minor and Teheran are in front of Delgado in the pecking order, but monitor the offseason activity of the club because he becomes an immediate player of interest when his opportunity presents itself.

 
Josh is a graduate of SUNY Cortland's Sport Management program, and an aspiring fantasy writer. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad. You can also follow his work at The Hardball Times and follow him on Twitter (BChad50).
 
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