Guys on the Rise – Sam Delaplane
The Mariners have one of the better farm systems in the minors right now. Julio Rodriquez and Jarred Kelenic look like future All-Stars. Logan Gilbert and George Kirby look like #2 type starter that should move quickly through the system. However, there is one other guy you might want to keep your eyes on whenever baseball starts up again. His name: Sam Delaplane.
Delaplane was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2017 draft and him becoming a Dude is pretty remarkable. A college reliever drafted that late really flies under the radar but he has performed very well. After being drafted, he was assigned to the AZL and in 31 innings, he struck out 47 batters with an impressive 37.5 SwStk%. In his first professional season, he started to turn some heads. In 59.2 innings, he struck out 100 batters with an 18.6 SwStk% to go along with a 38.8 K% and 8.5 BB%.
This past year, he split his time between Advanced-A and Double-A. While the 4.26 ERA in the California League looks poor, his SwStk% and K% both improved to 24.4% and 48.4% respectively. Delaplane has always been able to limit home runs; the highest being 0.75 HR/9 during his time in the Midwest League. So the high ERA blip during the first part of the season seems to be a combination of poor defense and with a 61.4% LOB, maybe some bad luck as well. Delaplane was promoted to Double-A at the beginning of June and dominated the Texas League. In 37 innings, he struck out 58 batters, with a 20.4 SwStk%, 43.3 K%, and a 36.6 K-BB%. Here is one at-bat during the summer against Hudson Potts, a prospect in the San Diego Padres system.
Delaplane, like most relievers, has a two-pitch mix. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-nineties that he typically throws higher in the zone. His slider is his bread and butter though. It sits in the mid-eighties with late-life and had the second-highest swing-and-miss rate, according to Baseball Savant. However, he considers it a curveball. In a recent interview with David Laurila of FanGraphs he said:
“My primary pitch used to be a curveball and personally, I still consider it a curveball. That’s how I think of it. Technically it’s a slider, but it was a curveball grip when I first started throwing it, at 14, and that’s never changed. I feel like I’m coming over the top, and then turning a doorknob. If I think slider, it’s going to get more sweep, right-left, which isn’t what I want. I’m thinking up-down, like a 12-6 curveball.”
Whatever you call it, it is a lethal pitch. Delaplane has been able to tunnel the ball well as everything comes from out of the same arm slot and has filled many batters throughout his time in the minors. Typically, it is not a wise decision to roster minor league relievers in your dynasty league but Sam Delaplane might be an exception. Since Edwin Diaz left town, no one in the Seattle bullpen has stepped up to be a reliable closer or late-inning reliever. With Delaplane already in Double-A, he might skip Triple-A, as Diaz did, and be the closer of the future for the rebuilding Seattle Mariners.