Since arriving in the Mariners organization, Sam Delaplane has done one thing better than anybody in the organization: he strikes guys out. In his 2 full seasons in the minors, Delaplane has struck out 270 hitters in 161 innings, good for a 15.1 K/9 rate.
What’s interesting about Delaplane is that he doesn’t have overwhelming stuff. His fastball sits 91-95. He has a nice, hard sinker. His curveball is good, but not elite. He doesn’t have pinpoint command. But the results speak for themselves.
Delaplane generates so many swings-and-misses because he excels at “Arm tunneling”. All three of Delaplane’s offerings come from the exact same arm slot and are all thrown with the same arm speed. In short, he doesn’t do anything to tip his pitches, so hitters must rely on spin recognition to hit Delaplane.
It is unlikely that the strikeout rate will become something that carries into the big leagues but at every level, Delaplane has found success. The stuff doesn’t play as well at the big leagues, and Delaplane is probably going to be a middle reliever at the big league level.
But if Delaplane can continue to defy expectations, he’ll be a weapon for the Mariners going forward. He will likely start the year in Tacoma, but manager Scott Servais has voiced a lot of support for the right-handed pitcher. Delaplane has a good shot to make the club out of spring training but will make his debut at some point in 2020, pending his health.