Ariel Miranda sounds like one of those weird Disney Princess mashups that were fashionable clickbait last year — Click to see the Disney Princesses re-imagined as Sex and the City characters! Click to see the Disney Princesses re-imagined as members of the 2003 Philadelphia Eagles Secondary! Click to see the Disney Princesses re-imagined as America’s most infamous serial killers! — but he is an actual baseball pitcher who has come on of late and become a fairly interesting prospect of advanced age.
Miranda, a 6-foot-2 Cuban lefty, signed in May of 2015 after he defected and established residency in Haiti. He pitched across three levels during his first full season, finishing his initial domestic campaign with a solid eight-start run with Double-A Bowie. Miranda has passed 2016 in Triple-A (except for a two-inning shot of espresso with the Orioles early in July) and, while a 3.93 ERA from a 27-year-old isn’t exactly sexy, he’s flashed viable big-league stuff. His fastball will touch 95 mph on occasion and sits 90-93. Miranda has a quick, athletic arm and incorporates his lower half into a picturesque delivery that he doesn’t always finish. When he’s not driving the ball down, he lives either up in the zone or out of it altogether, something of which major-league hitters will take full advantage, but he’s capable of missing bats in the zone with his fastball. Miranda has been able to throw plenty of strikes this season, just not always where he wants to, and his control is ahead of his command.
The secondary pitches have generally been inconsistent but Miranda has had starts where his split and slider have been above average. The slider ranges from 76-81 mph and features short, two-plane movement. The pitch is more effective when it has more depth, something Miranda is able to generate more regularly when he’s trying to bury the slider in the dirt rather than throw it in the strike zone. The split/change sits 80-83 and lives off of Miranda’s arm speed more than run and fade. Both are fringe-average offerings in aggregate that have played up at times this season. Miranda’s command of his secondaries is below average.
While he only projects as a back-end starter or up-and-down type of pitcher, I think there’s a chance the Mariners have netted themselves an arm that can compete every fifth day rather than one upon which they call merely in emergencies. Cuban prospects have been volatile because, at least in part, of how inconsistently they play in real games leading up to their MiLB/MLB careers. It’s possible Miranda is just now beginning to hit his stride and that the Mariners have caught some lightning in a bottle, even if it’s just an inning-eating, slightly above-replacement kind of lightning.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.