Recently waived Twins reliever Rob Delaney was just claimed by the Rays, sparking a mini-debate (more like an open forum) on Twitter regarding the approach of the Twins front office and teams like the Rays. Parker Hageman of Over the Baggy tweeted that the Delaney moves were representative of the two FO’s approaches.
Delaney has great minor league numbers. He has a 1.069 WHIP and strikes out a little over 9 per 9 innings, while walking around 2 per 9 innings. But while his numbers are great, the scouting reports on him are less so. He was undrafted, and though he is a big guy (6’3″, 230ish) Delaney throws in the low 90s and has a decent slider, but he relies mostly on his control. Sounds familiar, right?
Most people will look at Delaney’s stats and be frustrated that we let him get away. While I like stockpiling arms in general, and also in general favor stats over scouts (though I do of course think you need both), this case is a bit different for me. For one, I like relying on scouting for minor leaguers. Stats can tell us a lot about a player, but minor league numbers need context. MLEs and Davenport translations can give us a lot of help, but scouting information lends credence to those minor league stats.
Another way is in the case of relief pitchers. Relievers with nice stats are, of course, great, but they can fluctuate quite a bit from year to year. Sometimes it can be that a pitcher succeeded because of luck, sometimes it can be because he is deceptive but doesn’t have great stuff. There are a bunch of reasons.
One player combining these two areas is Anthony Slama. Slama had a 1.060 WHIP and over a 3/1 K/BB ratio that included him striking out 12.5 batters per 9 innings. But his stuff just wasn’t that great, and he made just 5 major league appearances last year, posting a WHIP over 2, an ERA+ of 58, and striking out as many players as he walked.
A smart team like the Rays picking up a player the Twins waive always makes me worried, but this is one time I think we can trust the scouts over the stats.