Age: 20 (DOB 14 March 1994)
Role: Left handed starting pitcher
2013 assignment: Great Lakes (Dodgers affiliate) and Cedar Rapids (both Midwest League)
2014 assignment: Cedar Rapids
How did he get here?
Miguel Sulbaran came to the Twins in the Drew Butera trade last year. At 5’10” 185lb, there may be legitimate concerns about how physically projectable he is.
Offering an 89-91 mph fastball with decent command and some fringy secondary pitches, he was consistently ranked in the18-25 range amongst Dodgers prospects last year. Many fans equated the value of Sulbaran with the low esteem in which Butera was held, and saw this as a typical PTBNL transaction with minimal upside for the Twins.
Hang on a second:
Despite the questionable projection, a cursory look at Sulbaran’s numbers suggests he may be more than just a lottery ticket or organizational filler. In 2012 as an 18 y/o in the Arizona League he put up a 2.51 ERA and 62/9 K/BB in 57.1 IP which was enough to earn him a late season cameo in the MidWest League.
Returning to the MWL in 2013 aged 19, Sulbaran put up a 2.96 ERA and 101/32 K/BB in 112.2IP between the Dodgers affiliate at Great Lakes and 4 starts at Cedar Rapids after the trade. To put those numbers in context, he ranked 5th in ERA, 12th in strikeouts and 10th in WHIP in the MWL, which represents a solid return for a 19 y/o in his first full season. 90% of batters that faced him last year were older.
Sulbaran had no obvious platoon split in 2013, allowing .652 OPS against RHB and .688 OPS against LHB (despite a BABIP 100 points higher against lefties).
Look a little closer:
A closer look at Sulbaran’s numbers in 2013 suggests he may be more impressive even than that. In April and May, Great Lakes used him predominantly as a reliever where a .403 BABIP led to a 5.09 ERA in 7 relief appearances, despite an increased strikeout rate.
Once he switched to a full time starter in June however, Sulbaran really blossomed, turning in a 2.41 ERA and 74/23 K/BB over 89.2 IP (with a more sustainable BABIP of .295) for the rest of the season and allowing just 2 HR in that time. Those numbers are mighty impressive; the key question now is whether he can continue to develop and has the arsenal to challenge better hitters.
Sulbaran starts his age 20 season back at Cedar Rapids, with some tough competition ahead of him at Ft Myers and talented arms around him at Cedar Rapids.
The likes of JO Berrios and Brett Lee are deservedly ahead of him at Ft Myers and his advancement there may depend on how some of the Ft Myers college relievers turned starters (Melotakis, Duffey) fare, and how he stacks up against his team mates. Alongside him at Cedar Rapids are uber-prospect Kohl Stewart, high-upside prospects such as Felix Jorge and Randy Rosario, as well as 2013 draftees Ryan Eades and Aaron Slegers, while the bullpen features Yorman Landa who may also be considered for a starting role. Competition within the Cedar Rapids rotation promises to be well worth watching.
It will be interesting to see how Sulbaran matches up against the likes of Stewart and Jorge, and the outcome of that contest will go a long way in determining whether he can turn the intriguing numbers he has put up to date into genuine prospect status.
Edited by SydneyTwinsFan, 01 April 2014 - 10:39 PM.