During the 2012 Rule 5 Draft, held at the Winter Meetings, the Chicago Cubs’ organization was poached as much as any in baseball, losing a number of players in the minor league phase of the draft. In the Major League phase, the Cubs lost pitching prospect Starling Peralta to the Diamondbacks. If he remains on the Diamondbacks’ 25-man roster for 90 days this season (plus the rest of the season on the disabled list with an “injury”), he’ll be theirs to keep. If not, the Cubs can purchase him back for a little scratch.
Peralta, who had just turned 22 at the time, was a well-regarded prospect in the Cubs’ system, but because he’d never pitched above A-ball, it was hard to justify a 40-man roster spot to protect him. In other words, it seems like the Diamondbacks are running the Lendy Castillo gambit: take a high upside youngster, stash him in the bullpen, and keep him thereafter.
How’s that plan going so far?
Well, it’s super early, and we’ve not even entered the regular season yet, but the early returns ain’t great. He’s appeared in two Spring Training games, amassing just one inning of work … while giving up four hits, three walks, and six earned runs. That’s a 54.00 ERA and 7.00 WHIP for those who like fun-with-silly-small-sample-rate-stats.
The numbers will probably matter slightly less than how Peralta looks. The D-backs clearly scouted him well last year, and know what he can offer. That’s why they drafted him in the first place. So, crummy Spring stats won’t do him in. But if he doesn’t look as good to the coaching staff and scouts now that they’ve got him up close and personal, that could change their minds.
So far, though, they seem to like what they see. From Diamondbacks.com:
When they selected Starling Peralta from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft in December, the D-backs knew they were getting a pretty good pitcher.
After watching him throw a couple of live batting-practice sessions, the right-hander might be better than they thought.
“I’ve seen him throw live twice and his breaking ball is a lot better than our reports were,” D-backs GM Kevin Towers said. “I knew he had a good change, live arm, good fastball, but I’ve seen a better breaking ball. It’s a little bit of a slurve, but he looks to command it fairly well. Deception with his delivery, a lot of arms and legs — I don’t think right-handed hitters will be very comfortable in there facing him.” ….
“He’s overpowering,” Gibson said. “Interesting guy to watch throw this spring, for sure. Just from watching him, it looks like he’s got to command the zone more. He’s got electric stuff.”
The Diamondbacks have an extraordinarily deep pitching staff, with three pitchers more accomplished than Peralta vying for the fifth starter’s job (Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado), and a bullpen that seems to already be seven deep (J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Heath Bell, Brad Ziegler, Matt Reynolds, Tony Sipp and Josh Collmenter). The Diamondbacks also have playoff aspirations. Stashing Peralta will be slightly more difficult for the D-backs than most teams, so we’ll see what happens when they put together their roster at the end of March.