MWAH 2014 Angels Prospects Countdown #13: Natanael Delgado

A raw teenager, Natanael Delgado is already making a big impression in the Angels farm system.

Natanael Delgado
Position: OF    Highest Level: AZL
Bats: L    Throws: L    Height: 6'1"    Weight: 170
Age: 18    Born: 10/23/1995
2013 Rank: Unranked

2013 Season Stats
AZL: 209 PA, .271 AVG, .311 OBP, .422 SLG, 16 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 43 SO, 4 SB, 0 CS, .327 BABIP, .336 wOBA, 101 wRC+

 

OFFENSE
Contact
= B
Delgado has an absolutely beautiful, fluid, loose swing that generates a ton of power, especially for his frame.  He uses his long limbs and takes full advantage of his mobility to create torque in his pre-swing motion and leverage upon contact.  He also does an outstanding job of swinging through the pitch and not simply meeting the ball as many his age, particularly power hitters tend to do.  Like most raw Latin American prospects, Delgado is a super-aggressive hitter, but luckily for him, he comes predisposed with hand-eye coordination.

Power = B
This is a relative term so take it with a grain of salt, Natanael Delgado has a TON of power for someone his age.  When he was signed, he may have been 160 pounds soaking wet.  When the Angels made the aggressive decision to send him stateside without spending much time down in the Dominican Republic, he was probably a tick over 170.  I’m told he eats, lives and breathes baseball and spends his mornings in the weight room even during the season.  Given his age and frame, it wouldn’t surprise me if he were at least 180 by this next season.  By the time he makes it to the major leagues he could be up over 200 pounds.  What does this all mean for his power?  Well as I said before, he has a loose swings and long limbs.  When you start adding muscle while maintaining the type of torque and mobility (flexibility) he shows, you can stumble upon a whole world of untapped power potential.

Discipline = B
You’re probably going to think I’m crazy for awarding Delgado with a “B” in this department seeing as he managed to accumulate all of 11 walks in over 200 plate appearances.  Delgado actually has a decent eye at the plate but more importantly, he’s willing to do anything to improve himself as a ball player.  The Angels asked him to do something that was against his very own nature on the ball field, stop swinging at every pitch as it comes by, trying to yank it as far as you can.  Work the count and then make the pitcher pay for his mistakes.  You can see evidence of this shift in approach for the 17 year old.  His first month in Rookie Ball, zero BB.  His second month, 2 BB in 22 games.  His third month, 9 BB in 22 games.  His BB% climbed all the way up to 9.7% in only his third month using this approach.  Prospects will usually take years to make this much progress if they ever do.  Delgado’s discipline may just be passable right now, but it seems he has the willingness and skill-set to eventually grow into a patient power hitter.

Speed = B
Delgado has long legs and is most certainly an above average base runner.  I don’t know what the future holds but if he stays as fast as he is, 20 SB on an annual basis shouldn’t be out of the question.

DEFENSE
Arm
= B
Delgado has above average arm strength and below average accuracy on his throws for now.  He’s shown the athleticism to handle CF and RF on occasion but he profiles best in LF, where his arm actually plays up as a strength.

Fielding = D
Not going to lie, he was a butcher out there and the numbers prove it.  .860 fielding percentage for an outfielder is pretty miserable.  But the thing to keep in mind here is that Delgado came in about as raw as raw can be.  He didn’t know much about taking the proper routes to balls in the air.  He was basically relying on his athletic instincts and not really using his noggin.  I have to imagine that will change with time.

Range = C
Delgado has long legs and is fast, but if he can’t read the ball off the bat and take the necessary routes, there’s only so much he can do.  I have little doubt that in the future, he’ll not only be a passable defender but actually be a “plus” defender.

 

OVERALL
Performance
= B
Upon using $280,000 of their slot money for Latin American prospects on the 17-year-old Delgado last season, the Angels quickly sent him stateside.  This was partly because they were in the process of moving their Dominican Complex out to Boca Chica, but also because Delgado showed the necessary upside and off the field maturity to handle coming to the U.S.  The plan was originally to have him work out with the Rookie League players and continue to train in Tempe, but Delgado picked everything up so quickly that he ended up playing the full AZL season and was among the better hitters in the league, despite being 2-3 years younger than much of the competition.  This speaks volumes about him as a player and his natural, albeit raw talent.

Projection = A
Delgado has the drive, athleticism, build and instincts to become a truly special player.  He could become a premier blend of speed and power that manifests itself into actual production, rather than raw, untapped potential that we see in many other prospects with similar skill sets such as Chevy Clarke and former Angel farmhand Ryan Bolden.  The sky is the limit for this kid, and he has the chance to make an impact at a very young age.  This also gives the Angels all the time in the world with this kid.  They may keep him in Rookie Ball for another two years and he’d still be right on track in his age-development curve (not that I see that happening).

Grade as a Prospect = C+/B-
High upside Dominican prospects can seem to be a dime a dozen.  Delgado was heavily scouted, but because of the changes in the CBA, not enough teams were willing to allocate as much money for a singing bonus as he likely should’ve received.  This benefited the Angels greatly.  He didn’t show up as a premier Dominican signee, but he outperformed the majority of them by making it stateside and excelling in Rookie Ball and making the necessary adjustments to be successful.  His attitude and raw, physical upside make him a considerably valuable prospect.

Estimated MLB Arrival Date = 2018/2019
Perhaps it’s strange to envision a prospect spending the next 4-5 years in development before making it up to the majors, but that’s the sort of timescale you deal with when you have a prospect like Delgado.  A lot can happen in the next half-decade and the fun thing to think about is that Delgado can spend all that time in the minors and still make it up the majors by age 22/23, which is still very young.  I think it’s likely the Angels will send Delgado to Orem this year, though it’s possible they play it conservative and keep him in Arizona an additional year so that he’ll come up with a crop of high school graduates that are his age.  The Angels may also play it just as aggressive as they did last season with Delgado and send him to Burlington as an 18 year old.  We’ll have to wait and see.

 

2013 in Review*
Looking at the statline for Delgado in 2013, there is nothing particularly impressive about it. Well, there isn't until you see the most important stat: Delgado was 17 years old the whole season. When you look again with that context in mind, you realize he was literally a boy among men and he held his own. Yes, he whiffs too much and doesn't walk enough, but that is what teenagers do.

The fact that Delgado was even participating in the AZL should be impressive enough. The Angels signed him back in 2012 to a $280,000 bonus and were obviously so excited about his prospects that they dispensed with having him spend anytime at all in the Dominican Summer League and brough him to their Arizona complex instead.

Looking Ahead*
Delgado is raw as hell and still developing both physically and mentally. His frame still has plenty of filling out to do and his game needs plenty of polish that simply comes with the experience of playing organized baseball. In time, Delgado projects to be a big league corner outfielder slugger, but it is going to take several years before that becomes a reality. For the immediate future, Delgado figures to move to Orem in 2014, though it is possible that he'll repeat the AZL if only because he is so young and the Halos don't want to rush him.

While Delgado came up short of cracking the top 10 this year on this list and others, he is definitely one to watch. Once he matures physically, he could be a fixture in the top five Angel prospects for years to come.

*As we do every year, the scouting reports and grades are provided by Scotty Allen while Garrett Wilson provides the 2013 in Review and Looking Ahead sections.

Scott Allen

About Scott Allen

Scott is a writer for The Outside Corner and writer/prospect expert at Monkey With A Halo can be followed on Twitter @ScottyA_MWAH

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