The San Francisco Giants' Waldis Joaquin is on the bubble to make the 2010 Opening Day roster.
The ’10 bullpen staff already features a plethora of live arms and young talent, so the 23-year-old may have a tough time cracking the 25-man roster to start the year.
Joaquin began his career in 2005 at the age of 18 for the Giants' Rookie squad. He showed immediate potential, striking out 37 batters in 31.0 innings.
In 2007, he joined the low-A team for 46.3 IP, where he retired 37 batters by way of the K and gave 17 free passes. 2007 was the last season where the majority of Joaquin’s playing time was at SP, as 27.3 of his 46.3 innings accumulated were from games that he started.
Waldis struck out batters at a quicker rate as a starter in ’08, but his home run per fly ball ratio was over five percent less as a reliever.
As Starter: 22.3 IP, 4.01 FIP, .306 AVG, .420 BABIP, 10.48 K9, 7.7 HR/F
As Reliever: 52.3 IP, 3.47 FIP, .234 AVG, .305 BABIP, 7.91 K9, 2.1 HR/F
This could mean that he was overthrowing as a starter and is better used in short game situations. With his full-time move to the bullpen in 2009, his K rate relaxed from 10.71 to 6.67, and he didn’t allow a minor league home run. As the season progressed, Joaquin’s FIP made steady improvements.
April: 12.7 IP, 4.20 FIP
May: 11.0 IP, 3.66 FIP
June: 14.0 IP, 3.71 FIP
July: 17.0 IP, 2.62 FIP
August: 10.3 IP, 1.05 FIP *AAA stats
His July ground ball percentage spiked to 68.2 percent, which led to his ascension to Fresno, where he struck out 16 batters in 10.3 innings for a K9 of 13.94. Joaquin then made the MLB Giants and struggled, allowing five runs in 10.6 innings to finish the year.
Over the past winter, Joaquin kept his ERA down to 2.35, but his 1.30 WHIP was just average. Although he struck out 13 and walked three, his .279 batting average against in 16 winter league games was far less than stellar.
To date, his spring training ERA of 2.53 in 10.6 IP is nice, but he has failed to shut down opponents with his heater as he did in previous seasons. Joaquin has struck out only three batters while walking one in March action up till now, though his past 8.6 innings have been scoreless. It seems that there is still tinkering to be done given his fluctuating stats and improvement when taking something off of his pitches.
Joaquin’s pitch repertoire consists of a blazing 94-98 MPH fastball that explodes up and in to right-handed batters. In the minors, lefty batters had an easier time seeing the fastball’s tailing action and appeared to lay off the pitch more often than righties.
2008 BB rate vs. LHB: 5.53
2008 BB rate vs. RHB: 2.68
2009 BB rate vs. LHB: 5.86
2009 BB rate vs. RHB: 2.89
His other pitches also display a similar motion, likely due to his release point and arm angle. Besides the fastball, he mixes in a mid-80s slider that could add some horizontal action and finish better moving through the zone.
He needs to develop his change-up to keep it around the plate and add some drop. This would reduce his walk rates and allow Joaquin to take full advantage of that lights-out fastball. The Giants can afford to develop his secondary pitches in the minors considering the pen's strength and ability of the starting rotation to go deep into games.
Joaquin’s arm is too exciting to keep in the minors for long, so look for him to join the big league team at some point in 2010.