When Eric Longehagen and Kiley McDaniel blurbed Sam Delaplane last March, they called the Seattle Mariners pitching prospect “an interesting sleeper.” Pointing to his eye-popping strikeout numbers in Low-A, they went on to suggest that Delaplane — unranked despite the platitudes — “might get pushed quickly.”
Delaplane proceeded to prove our scouting duo correct. Following 21 relief outings in Hi-A Modesto, the righty ascended to Arkansas, where he flat out shoved against Texas League hitters. In 37 Double-A innings, Delaplane fanned 58 while allowing just 13 hits. His ERA was a microscopic 0.49.
Flash back six years. In order to compete collegiately, the San Jose native had to travel 2,400 miles — and not to a baseball hotbed. The lone offer Delaplane received coming out of high school was from Eastern Michigan University; the low-profile program was coming off of consecutive losing records in the Mid-American Conference.
Delaplane spent four years at Eastern, earning a degree in marketing. Sold mostly on the promise of his strong senior season — a 3.27 ERA and first-team All-MAC honors — Seattle selected Delaplane in the 23rd round of the 2017 draft.
His most-lethal weapon had yet to evolve and blossom. It wasn’t until after Delaplane got into pro ball that he “flipped the switch” and turned a hook into what Longenhagen described as a “power, Brad Lidge-style slider with late, downward movement.”
Defining Delaplane’s best offering is a matter of semantics. Read the rest of this entry »