Cubs may or may not have acquired Randall Delgado and this is his story

Keith Law has confirmed that Ryan Dempster has been traded to the Atlanta Braves for Randall Delgado. The issue of money still has to be settled though. It was later confirmed there is not yet a trade. Nobody knows why. I assume the trade gets done so I"m getting a head start. The Cubs will probably send all or nearly all of Dempster's remaining $6 million or so on his contract. Delgado was the 46th ranked prospect by Baseball America entering the season. He was 3rd in their Braves top prospects and John Sickels ranked him 3rd in the Braves organization. Sickels graded him as a B+ pitcher and had this to say:

His ERA in the majors was a bit misleading and he could probably use some Triple-A time, but another elite prospect projecting as a number two starter if all goes well.

Delgado earned a cup of coffee with the Braves in 2011 at the age of 21. He started 7 games, threw 35 innings and had an impressive 2.83 ERA. Despite the ERA, he struckout fewer than 5 batters per 9 and walked 3.6 per 9. His FIP was 5.14. 

It was just 35 innings and it was his first taste of big league action despite only 4 starts (21.2 innings) in AAA. Although he played almost the entire season with the Braves except for his most recent start in AAA, let's focus on his minor league results first.

Delgado was signed in 2006 as an international free agent. In 2008 he came to the US and pitched 69 innings in rookie ball. It was a solid professional debut as he struckout 10.6 per 9, walked 3.9 per 9 and allowed an ERA of 3.13 and FIP of 3.32. What he's done at each stop up through his AAA last season is below:

  • 2009 A: 124 IP, 10.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 4.35 ERA, 3.2 FIP
  • 2010 A+ 117.1 IP, 9.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 2.76 ERA, 2.93 FIP
  • 2010 AA: 43.2 IP, 8.7 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 4.74 ERA, 3.38 FIP
  • 2011 AA: 117.1 IP, 8.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 3.84 ERA, 3.82 FIP
  • 2011 AAA: 21.2 IP, 10.4 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, 4.15 ERA, 4.82 FIP

With the exception of High A in 2010 he's never really had a shiny ERA, but has for the most part posted solid FIPs. Only that stint in A+ stands out, but the others have mostly been the same. 

He's been young for each level he's been in and he's still performed well. It led to him being ranked in the top 50 by Baseball America entering 2011 and 2012. Prior to the start of this season Baseball America said this:

Background: Delgado was an unsung hero in Atlanta's unsuccessful playoff drive. After making a pair of emergency starts early in the year, he allowed a total of seven earned runs in five September starts. Unheralded when he signed at age 16 out of Panama, he has progressed faster than expected because his maturity and coachability allow him to make quick adjustments.

We've heard the new front office talk a lot about how they're going after certain guys who can fit into what they call The Cubs Way. I'm sure this is the type of player that defines the type of minor leaguer they're looking for.

Scouting Report: Delgado maintain a 92-94 mph fastball but struggles at times to command the pitch. His best offering is a plus curveball with sharp downward bite, and he also has a solid changeup. He has a smooth, quick delivery and does a good job of using the same arm speed with all of his pitches. Delgado tends to lose some deception when his arm action gets long. Despite his strong frame, he doesn't have an abundance of athleticism and doesn't handle the bat well, particularly in terms of bunting.

You can see from the numbers I posted above that he hasn't shown great command and this year at the big leagues has been no different. He has shown the ability to rack up the strikeouts though not at the MLB level yet. I don't know about the rest of you, but I couldn't care less how he handles the bat. I don't think it will be too long before the NL gets the DH anyway.

The Future: The Braves believe Delgado is ready to join the back of their rotation to open the 2012 season, though spending some more time in Triple-A to hone his fastball command could be beneficial as well. He profiles as an eventual No. 3 starter with a ceiling of a No. 2.

Seeing as how patient the front office has been with prospects this season, we probably shouldn't be too surprised if the Cubs opt to leave him in AAA for a month. Trading a guy like Dempster and presumably $6 million for Delgado who is an eventual 3rd starter is a solid deal. If he can reach the ceiling it's a very good trade for the Cubs. 

Delgado opened the season with the Braves this year and made 17 starts before being optioned to the minors recently. He threw 91.2 innings and increased his sub 5 K/9 up to slightly over 7, which is still lower than you'd hope, but much better. His walk rate remains relatively high. 

He throws a fastball, changeup, two-seamer, slider, curve and the occasional cutter. His average fastball has been 92.5 and his average 2 seamer 91.7. So far this year he's gotten fewer than average swings outside the zone and inside the zone according to Fangarphs pfx data. He's right about average at batters making contact and has thrown many fewer pitches in the zone than the average pitcher. He also likes to take his time on the mound.

Overall, there's a lot to like here. Dempster didn't have any surprlus trade value considering his salary. If the Cubs send all his salary that's about $6 million they should have expected to get in return. A grade B pitching prospect is worth about $7.3 and Delgado was a B+ entering the season. Consdidering it hasn't been a particularly strong season it seems to me to be a solid trade for both teams. The Braves get a good pitcher to help down the stretch and the Cubs get a 22 year old with a lot of potential to help several years down the road. 

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