Top 50 Prospects: #27 - Waldis Joaquin

Waldis Joaquin's name began appearing in Giants discussions after a strong performance in the rookie league, but who he is and what he can do remains a bit of a mystery. Now that we've reached him in the Top 50 prospects, we can look into it.

Date of Birth: 12/25/1986 Position: P Height: 6'2" Weight: 190 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004
2005 Stats
AZL Giants - R 1 1 3.64 10 5 1 29.7 28 17 12 1 10 27 .241 2.06

Waldis Joaquin jumped into recognition in Giants prospect circles after making Baseball America’s Top 20 Prospects list for the Arizona Rookie League at #7, but he remains a mystery to most San Francisco fans, if they know the name at all.

Joaquin may have just debuted in the U.S. this season, but the Dominican product already was known by the Giants after he posted a 1.61 ERA in the Dominican Summer League in 2004. He blazed into America at the tender age of 18, and was part of a rookie pitching staff that was by far the best in the Arizona Rookie League, posting a 2.93 ERA (2nd place was the Angels, with a 4.23 ERA). He cemented his reputation with his final outing of the season, a 3 inning relief appearance in which he gave up 1 hit, 1 walk, and struck out 8 of the 11 batters he faced, finding 98 on the radar gun multiple times.

Joaquin’s half season was marred by inconsistency, however. He worked in the usual pitching rotation in the Rookie level, which has most pitcher start and then relieve to keep everyone working short outings. His first appearance, he couldn’t get out of inning, giving up 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in two thirds of an inning. His next outing, he went 3 innings without giving up a hit, but gave up 2 runs (1 earned) thanks to two walks, a balk and an error by himself, and only struck out 1. The rest of the year had outings that were similar. Sometimes, he’d be dominating (like a 4 inning, 3 hit, 1 run, 0 walk, 7 K line on August 4th). Sometimes he’d get pounded (like a 2.2 inning, 8 hit, 3 runs, 0 walk and 5K line on July 28th).

The result is a pitcher that has a ton of potential, but a lot to work through. That’s not at all surprising for an 18 year old kid. There’s plenty of good news, starting with that 98 MPH fastball that could even get faster as he fills out his 6’2, 190 lb frame. He also throws a hard slider in the high 80’s, which is good enough to be an out pitch against hitters who can catch up with his fastball. Also of note is that his control, while not perfect, wasn’t a major problem in any of his outings. On the other hand, Joaquin has a lot to learn about pitching, not just throwing, and if he’s going to stick as a starter, he needs to develop a third pitch. There’s only so far 98 MPH will get someone unless he can match it with a solid changeup to keep batters off balance. But, he’s 18 and has plenty of time to learn.

For 2006, Joaquin’s got a very good shot to go to the SAL league to start the season, but it’ll depend on how much advancement he’s shown in his changeup during the offseason. If the Giants feel it hasn’t developed enough, he could be held back in extended spring training and not start playing until Short Season Salem-Keizer starts in June. His future is bright, but very uncertain. If he can keep growing, he’s got front line starter stuff. Then again, even if he doesn’t develop more pitches, his stuff matches a raw Robb Nen and certainly could lead him to relief and closing. It’s too early to say for sure, and at the end of ’06 it’ll probably still be too early to make a good guess.

But it’ll be fun watching this mystery unravel.

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