Jose Pirela & Randall Delgado: Deep League Wire

Ready to go swimming? Into the mysterious waters of the free agent pool? Search for these two dudes, they may very well bring you to a championship.

Jose Pirela | 2B SD | CBS 9% Owned

Yesterday, I received a tweet that initially looked like an absurd question — “Pirela over Brinson, Hanley, Mallex & Howie?”. Wait, is this guy seriously asking me whether he should be playing Jose Pirela over top prospect Lewis Brinson, solid veterans Hanley Ramirez and Howie Kendrick, and new Rays outfielder, speedster Mallex Smith?! So, naturally, I responded dismissively:

But WAIT! I was then told by this same tweeter that “After seeing his AAA numbers makes me wonder if this is another swing changer. He would only be a flyer right now”. Fine, I’ll begrudgingly take a look at Pirela’s Triple-A performance this year. Though I figure there couldn’t possibly be anything in there to make me change my answer to his question. WOW! The career minor leaguer, who never posted higher than a .155 ISO at any level with any sort of reasonable sample size, and mid-single digit HR/FB rates, suddenly enjoyed a power explosion at age 27.

In 181 at-bats, his ISO nearly doubled his previous career high to .304, while his HR/FB rate surged to 24.1%. You can call it a small sample size all you want, and it kind of is, but still, this is almost like Billy Hamilton spending two months in the top 20 in HR/FB rate and that would never, ever happen. So something must be up. A quick Google search failed to yield any sort of explanation, but for an even smaller sample size, he has already homered twice in just 26 at-bats with the Padres. He only had one homer heading into this season over 137 career MLB at-bats! With experience fielding all over the diamond and more than enough playing time opportunities, Pirela is going to play for as long as he hints at his Triple-A performance being no fluke.

Randall Delgado | P ARI | 9% Owned

Injuries in the Diamondbacks rotation vaulted Delgado into a starting slot, where he has pitched pretty well in four starts. I’m not too interested in his results, but more so his fastball velocity. As a reliever the last three seasons, his velocity has trended downward from a peak of 93.2 mph to just 92.0 last year. This year, he’s above 94.0 mph and maintained most of his velocity gains when moving into a starting role. As a reliever, he was averaging 94.8, which is way up from past years, but his velocity was still a strong 94.0 as a starter. Of course, we have to adjust downward a bit to account for the measurement changes, so this is more like the low-to-mid 93.0 range as a starter and 94.0 as a reliever. Still well above where he had stood recently.

His changeup has always been his best pitch and intuitively, you would think that a speedier fastball would make that change even more effective. Interestingly, his changeup has actually induced its lowest SwStk% of his career, but the slider has made up for it, jumping in SwStk% versus the prior two seasons. So now he’s got a respectable fastball and two excellent secondary offerings.

With Taijuan Walker set to come off the disabled list, the assumption was that Delgado or Zack Godley would lose their spot. It would make no sense for Godley to given how well he has pitched. But Delgado has been good too and has started in the past. So why not Patrick Corbin, who is pitching just as poorly as last year when he was banished to the bullpen? Delgado is a classic example of buying skills, not roles, as he’ll earn deep league value wherever he ends up.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Francis C.
Francis C.

Been digging on Pirela and in this SSS, he has been hitting the snot out of the ball (way over 100 MPH AVG EV on GB, LD and HD. 96.6 MPH on FB per xStats) Don’t know how reliable AAA batted ball data on Fangraphs is, but a 14.2 LD% and a 49.3 GB% is not that desirable. In MLB, LD% has jumped to 25.0% but FB% is a paltry 20.8% and GB% is even higher than AAA at 54.2%. That does not inspire hope for HRs. Sample too small though to gain much insight but if AAA is a guide, he may be a near 50% GB guy. Either way, he’s worth a flyer to see what becomes of him.