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Scouting Reports On Tonight's Atlanta Braves Starting Pitcher Randall Delgado

It's always exciting for us Atlanta Braves prospect-heads when one of the organization's top players makes his Major League debut. The giddiness was palpable when top prospect Julio Teheran made his debut on May 7th of this year, and that giddiness has returned for the number-two top prospect Randall Delgado, who faces off against the Texas Rangers in his Major League Debut tonight.

Randall Delgado was ranked as the third-best prospect in the Braves system by Talking Chop (and Baseball America), and their second-best pitching prospect. When Delgado takes the mound tonight that will mean that all five of the Braves top prospects have seen Major League action this season -- no other organization uses their prospects as much as Atlanta.

Here is what Talking Chop had to say about Delgado before the season in our top-25 prospect list:

The Skinny: Put together a fantastic 2010 season that saw him lead the Carolina League in strikeouts (plus several other categories) before being promoted to Mississippi where he more than held his own as a 20 year old.
The Good: He features a plus fastball that sits in the low to mid-90s and tops out at 96. His curve and change-up both have the potential to be plus pitches. His youth and slender frame lend themselves to more projection as he fills out.
The Bad: His control wavers (4.1 BB/9 in AA) from time to time which takes the edge off his off-speed pitches, which in turns leads to him getting hit harder.
In a perfect world: Delgado overcomes his control problems and he becomes an ace and a workhorse for the next decade, second on the team to only Julio Teheran.
ETA: He could be one of the first young Atlanta pitching prospects to make his Major League debut for the Braves in 2011, now that he is on the 40-man roster. Should see the Majors at some point in 2011.

After the jump, we bring you some more scouting reports on Delgado...

We turn to Baseball America for some background and a scouting report on Delgado:

Background: Signed as an unheralded 16-year-old from Panama, Delgado has moved rapidly due to his maturity and repertoire. He led the Carolina League in strikeouts (120) last year despite getting promoted in mid-July, and he topped the system with 162 whiffs overall. He's similar to Julio Teheran in that he's a slender fireballer who reached Double-A well ahead of schedule.

Scouting Report: Delgado pounds the strike zone and challenges hitters. His fastball resides at 92-96 mph, and he mixes it well with a plus curveball and solid changeup. His curve has good downward bite, and his changeup shows impressive deception. Delgado struggled with his control in 2009 until altering his mechanics and mindset in July, leading to an impressive second half. When he got to Mississippi last summer, he had some problems leaving pitches thigh-high. He again adapted, improving his ability to throw his fastball down in the zone and on both sides of the plate.

Here is some of what Roto Hardball's (and Scouting The Sally's) Mike Newman had to say about Delgado after seeing him in a start earlier this year (with video):

He worked off of an 89-91 MPH two-seam fastball which featured heavy sink at times and consistent arm side run. When needed, Delgado had the ability to dial up his four-seam fastball to 94 MPH to change eye level and keeper hitters off balance. In this particular outing, Delgado consistently kept the ball down, displaying excellent efficiency.

In terms of offspeed pitches, Delgado effectively utilized an low-80's curveball which he kept down in the zone. With tight break, it has a chance of being a swing-and-miss offering at the big league level with continued development. At 78 MPH, Delgado's changeup featured excellent arm action and heavy drop when down in the zone. In game action, he elevated the pitch too often for my liking, although he avoided any real trouble. Major league hitters will not be as kind.

More analysis in the next post, up shortly.

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