The Mariners called up Stephen Pryor today from Tacoma and sent down Steve Delabar.
The move was made mainly because they were uspet that Delabar refuses to go by his given name of “Steven.” The team said in statement that they aren’t completely convinced that Stephen with a “PH” is their long-term answer at the Steven position, but they do feel that he’s an incremental upgrade over simply Steve.
Delabar combined with Tom Wilhelmsen last year to be a kind of rags-to-riches story as elbow injuries had relegated Delabar to substitute teaching work. Delabar had a fastball in the mid-90s though, and if there is any place that a mid-90s fastball doesn’t belong it is high school batting practice.
Pryor was a fifth round pick two years ago and has spent time at every minor league level above rookie ball. He was very successful everywhere but High Desert, where his upper 90s fastball was parked in the seats all-too-often. By all-too-often I mean twice. The only two homeruns that have been hit of Pryor.
Walks were really his undoing at High Desert, where he went from “future closer” in some eyes to a guy that some people didn’t view as much of a prospect anymore. He averaged 8.7 BB/9 and had an ERA of 7.67. The strikeouts never left though, and he’s averaged 12.3 K/9 for his entire minore league career spanning 82 games. He made a big step back last year after a promotion to Jackson where he ran a 1.19 ERA and struck out 27 in 22.2 innings and only walked seven.
I have some pretty serious concerns about Pryor’s command, and I think that he’ll soon find that MLB hitters don’t chase pitches out of the zone nearly as often as in the minors. That said, I had him as my No. 13 prospect this offseason and I do believe that he’ll have a late inning role with this team in the future.
Delabar will have to figure out how to get batters out. A novel concept, but ultimately the thing that’s holding him back from being a good big league pitcher. He’s struck out 31 batters in 24.1 innings so far this year, which is outstanding, and he’s only walked seven batters. He’s also given up 7 homeruns though, all to righties, and righties are slugging more than .500 higher than lefties against Delabar.
Part of that may have something to do with his offspeed pitch which has different definitions depending on what pitch-recognition system you use. Some call it a split finger, some call it a changeup, some call it a slower variety of fastball. That much disparity in movement and speed tell me that he has a hard time executing it. Whatever the case, he’s giving up home runs to more than 11 percent of right handed batters he faces. You don’t need further explanation to know that is bad.