The Angels don't necessarily have a repatoir of Central American baseball players coming through the minors, but they do have one of the hidden gems in 18-year-old, Natanael Delgado. When we asked a scout what his peak comparison could be, he said, "Curtis Granderson, or possibly a left-handed Alfonso Soriano." Umm, WHAT?! Those are pretty decent names to be compared to at your peak. Now, not every player hits their so called "peak" that is touted upon them at an early age, but this young man has some raw talent, and will give the Angels a contact and power combination in the future.
"Loose and easy and creates good bat speed."
We asked five separate scouts, and each and everyone one said nearly the identical thing, "Delgado has a loose and easy swing." Delgado makes steady and good contact with the ball, and creates good bat speed with his aggressive swing. Two negatives about Delgado are his aggressive swing and timing. Sometimes when Delgado falls behind in counts, he takes hacks more than he does his calm swing, and contact starts to decrease leading to more strikeouts. For as young as he is, he has good patience and an approach at the plate, meaning he will get much better with time and possibly getting rid of the overly aggressive hacks. Another negative is his timing. Delgado swings too early sometimes and forces ground balls, fouls down the right field line and pulls the ball too often. This is also something he can fix with growth, maturity, and play time.
Delgado has average speed but is a good base path runner. As for the outfield, he's still learning his own range, and how to take better paths to the ball. But, as we've said, he's only 18-years-old, and it's something he'll grow to learn. His glove is standard for his age with room for improvement, as well as his arm, but that could become better as his body fills out.
Another thing that could improve as his body fills out is his power at the plate. He's six-foot-one now, weighing 170 pounds. Naturally, he'll gain some weight and muscle over the coming years, but it doesn't hurt that he spends his off-season working out. With a mixture of his potential bigger profile and good bat speed, his power could produce 20-30 home runs a year in the future.
There are very limited numbers to view for Delgado, but what there is shows a lot of upside. Delgado had a slash of .271/.311/.422 as a 17-year-old against the big boys of the Short Season Arizona League. Delgado was among league leaders in games (2nd), at bats (4th), RBI (4th), doubles (3rd) and extra base hits (3rd). Delgado struck out 20% of his plate appearances, but for a young man with an aggressive swing, that isn't something to necessarily frown upon.
It's a small sample, but once again, Delgado is young. He's competing well with some elite prospects that have much more baseball experience. With time, Delgado will be a raw talent, and he has quite a bit of time.
EXPECTED OF THE FUTURE:
It would make sense for Delgado to return to the Arizona League in 2014, but something was brought to our attention. The Angels have always been a organization that develops bunches of players, and create a good culture inside the clubhouse. With that said, there are are three top notch international prospects within a couple years of age of each other. The Angels could send Natanael Delgado to Short Season Orem to join Dominican pitching prospect Alfonso Alcantara, and Venezuelan shortstop prospect, Jose Rondon. It is unlikely, but it also an option that the Angels could take for Delgado and 2014 to create a new chemistry in the minor league system.
As for Delgado's future as an Angels player. Well, he's 18-years-old. There isn't a whole lot you can predict at this point, but time is on his side. Say Delgado develops well over the next two seasons and finds himself at High-A in 2016, he has a shot of making the Majors in 2019, when he's 23. It's weird to say that someone will be a professional baseball player at 23 in the year 2019 for us "old folk" but it is likely he will reach the Majors sometime between 2019 to 2020.
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