It seems like the Astros are pretty stocked with soft tossing lefty’s who rely on command that have the ability to pitch the distance and be starters sitting down in the minors. That list starts all the way up at the major league level. Wandy Rodriguez headlines this group and is followed by Polin Trinidad in Round Rock who could be the next Wandy. You go down a level to AA Corpus Christi and you find three. Tyler Lumsden, Fernado Abad, and Douglas Arguello headline that group. Brad Arnesburg fell in love with Abad during Spring Training but hasn’t pitched lately due to an injury. Lumsden is the oldest of the group and really in no way a prospect. Arguello has "broken out" this year because most aren’t very familiar with him, but in reality he has quietly improved every season and nobody has really taken notice. Unfortunately, it may be too late for Arguello to be a real prospect, but he has proved himself and is deserving of a Mid-Season Promotion.
A quick scouting report on Arguello simply states he is a soft tossing lefty who sits in the upper 80’s and will on occasion touch 91. He obviously doesn’t over power hitters by any means but he has solid control and he changes his speeds very well. That isn’t exactly a report that will blow you away from a 25 year old. But that does set-up well for mild success. Wandy gets by with a similar FB, but Wandy has that excellent curve. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything about what he throws other than a change-up. If anyone knows what breaking balls he throws, please comment. But from what we saw with Wandy, we know soft-tossing lefty’s can be late bloomers, and Arguello has a much more projectable frame, standing at 6-3, 190. Although, at the age of 25, projectability nearly completely goes out the window, but once again he could be a late bloomer.
Looking at Arguello’s numbers as he slowly rose through the system you see that K/9 usually increased every year, sometimes even as he advanced a level. He never had standout strikeout rates but his current 6.89 is pretty solid for him. His BB/9 numbers have been a little more erratic, fluctuating at times up to a terrible 4.0 range. The last two years he’s been able to keep that under control, maintaining a sub 3.00. It currently stands at 2.22. A 3:1 K/BB is pretty solid and he should be able to get away with that kind of stuff.
One of the key numbers that I’ve found to be impressive as he develops is his batted ball numbers. His FB% has slowly been coming down, and it took a drastic jump down from last year (23.9%) to his current 18%. I don’t think that low of a FB% will be sustainable and will likely climb up a little bit as it regresses to mean. His LD% typically is 15-16% range and hasn’t fluctuated much. The reciprocal of that FB% is his GB% which as increased very well this year. Last years 55.2% has risen to his current 60.0%. Like the FB%, the GB% will probably regress to mean with a larger sample size. But, I don’t think it will go all the way back down as he could actually just be getting better at inducing groundballs.
All those numbers likely conclude to why his overall pitching numbers have also improved. His current FIP is a phenomenal 2.79. Last year it was 3.71. That is a pretty big jump, but that’s why this year is probably being considered a breakout year for him. A few of his numbers indicate that he could regress, but here is a number that will argue that. His career BABIP is .307. Last year it was .309. Currently, it is sitting at .327. He could be slightly unlucky even with his good numbers.
Even though many of the minor league enthusiasts here at TCB are rooting for the FO to push Arguello up to RR, it may not happen. The FO may not be as fond of Arguello as many of us. He was originally assigned to CC at the beginning of the season, and that may have been a surprise after his solid season last year there. Recent transactions in the minor leagues have almost been slaps in the face to Arguello, in my opinion. First, with all the movement with the pitching staff on the major league roster with injuries in the bullpen, the RR pitching staff was left understaffed. Consequently, at least one CC Hook had to be moved up, the logical choice in many of our opinions would have been Douglas Arguello. Sergio Perez got the call. A quick defense was Perez could be used in the bullpen and the FO views Arguello as a starter. Second, last week we made a minor league trade for Jailen Peguero for a PTBNL. Peguero is a reliever with major league experience. Fast forward to now. Brad Thompson chose FA after being outrighted from Kansas City and the Astros picked him up on a minor league contract. Once again, Thompson is now a reliever and has major league experience, but so does over half of the RR pitching staff. Many of the starters in RR could be pushed to the pen for an obviously talented starter. Clack mentioned in a thread that the Thompson signing is likely another restoration project that Ed Wade loves, but I still think Arguello would have more upside than a restoration project.
With mid-season approaching, transactions are imminent, and the FO has no reason to make Arguello a part of it. Polin Trinidad was promoted last season about this time to RR from CC and the only statistics that he was better than Arguello was BB/9 (1.07) and K/BB (5.3). What do you think?