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Braves prospect retrospect: Randall Delgado

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The Atlanta Braves had some promising arms at the start of the last decade, and Delgado was right up there with the best of them. Let’s take a look back at his rise.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

There was a time when Randall Delgado was amongst an exciting Atlanta Braves’ pitching trio climbing prospect boards across Major League Baseball. An impressive big-league debut in 2011 led us all to believe that perhaps the analysts got it right.

Delgado’s entire MLB career didn’t pan out as an overwhelming success, however. Let’s continue our walk down Braves memory lane with a look at the rise of Delgado.

Randall Delgado, one of many exciting Braves pitching prospects in 2012

Delgado was signed out of Panama as a 16-year-old in 2006 and began his career with the Braves the following year. After two seasons in rookie-level play, the 19-year-old righty made his full-season debut with Rome in 2009. It wasn’t exactly eye-popping, but he was quietly becoming comfortable with his then-three-pitch mix (fastball, curveball and change) that many felt were already promising. In 2010, we watched Delgado become a true prospect.

He started the season in Myrtle Beach and was strong, recording a 2.76 ERA with 120 strikeouts and an impressive 1.03 WHIP before jumping to Double-A Mississippi as a 20-year-old. He wound up leading the Braves minor leagues with 162 strikeouts in 161 innings pitched that season and by 2011 he was part of an exciting trio of Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and himself atop the Braves’ prospects lists.

Delgado debuts for the Braves

Delgado was up and down the elevator in 2011, entering the season a top-100 prospect for the first time in his career. He began in Mississippi, but on June 17, the 21-year-old was called up to pitch in an injured Tommy Hanson’s stead. It wasn’t a great outing by any means as he went four innings, allowing three earned with two strikeouts and two walks.

He was sent back down and pitched for Gwinnett and when he came back later in the season he was sharp. He made one start in August, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning, before heading back to Gwinnett. Later, in five September starts, he posted a 2.52 ERA and picked up his first MLB win. He was a bit wild — throwing strikes was Delgado’s nemesis throughout his career — walking 11 and striking out just 12 in 25 September innings, but there was plenty of promise.

Entering 2012, Teheran, Vizcaino and Delgado were all top-100 prospects.

The future was bright. But for Delgado, 2012 was a bumpy ride. He began the season in the rotation and never really looked comfortable. He was striking out quite a bit of opposing hitters, but his walk rates were erratic, something that had haunted him the previous few seasons. By July, Delgado had found himself back in Gwinnett where the results were not much improved. He’d make one more appearance for the big-league club in that 2012 season, now out of the bullpen. He tossed one perfect frame, striking out the side.

It was the last inning he’d throw in a Braves uniform.

Randall Delgado, eight years later

That following January, Delgado was traded to Arizona as part of the monster haul the Diamondbacks landed for Chris Johnson and Justin Upton. After one year in the rotation, Delgado headed to the bullpen. Now, while he never became an All-Star or fulfilled the high expectations prospectors placed upon him, he etched out an admirable four-year career as a staple in the Diamondbacks ‘pen before an injury-ravaged 2018 ended his run in the desert.

Delgado bounced around a bit after the Diamondbacks released him following the 2018 season. He latched on with the Yankees’ farm system in 2019, pitching 10 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before heading to play some Indy ball as well. For his eight-year career, Delgado was 30-29 with a 4.10 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 465 strikeouts in 542.2 career innings pitched.

There were always high hopes for Delgado. He learned five pitches, able to throw his fastball as both a two- and four-seamer and adding a slider later in his career, but always wavered in the command department. That said, Delgado found his niche and made himself a career. Now 30 years old, it will be interesting to see if Delgado pops up again when normalcy returns to baseball.

Did you hear? Thanks to you, our dear readers, enjoying this series, we have our own Prospect Retrospect hub page now! Be sure to check out those prospects we have already looked at and keep up with who is yet to come below:

The Prospect Retrospect Hub