Last Friday, the Dodgers made a seemingly meaningless transaction in claiming right-handed starting pitcher Daniel Corcino off waivers from the Reds. However, Corcino was an interesting acquisition because of his former top prospect status and upside, which was something ESPN‘s Keith Law alluded to.
Solid claim. Not sure why the Reds waived him over Dominguez. https://t.co/JYtwICFLb2
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) April 17, 2015
Back in 2013, when he was ranked as the #94 prospect in baseball and #4 in the Reds system by Baseball America, Corcino was coming off a year in which he put up a 3.01 ERA in 143.1 innings as a 21-year-old in AA. Corcino has also drawn comparisons to Johnny Cueto since he was signed, and this angle was especially played up by the press due to his origins and the similarity of the repertoire.
Because of his arm slot, cross-fire delivery and understanding of how to manipulate the baseball, Corcino throws 91-94 mph fastballs with either cutting action or armside run. His slider shows flashes of being a plus pitch, though it needs more consistency. His changeup has good sink at the plate, giving him the potential for three solid or better pitches. Corcino has some effort to his delivery. His control wasn’t as sharp in Double-A, with his walk rate (4.1 per nine innings) nearly doubling from the year before (2.2).
So why in the world would a team let that guy go? Well, because as Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs put it, he lost his stuff and looks like a reliever now.
RHP Daniel Corcino (had been up to 97 mph and looked like a starter at one point, now is bullpen fit at 88-90, touching 92 with an above average slider and learning to pitch rather than throw, has big league time).
In 2013, Corcino posted a 5.86 ERA in AAA with a K/BB ratio of only 90/73 in 129 innings. He followed that up in 2014 by posting a 4.25 ERA, primarily while back in AA, and even his MLB debut that year told the a tale of a pitcher who had diminished stuff. While in the majors as a starter, Corcino threw a fastball, slider, and change, but his fastball averaged just 88.9 mph and there was little separation in velocity between his pitches.
That said, when watching his highlights from last year, one certainly gets the feeling that he could be effective as a max effort reliever.
MLB.com thought as much prior to the 2015 season as well.
And they also currently have him ranked as the #29 prospect in the Dodgers system.
When he was going good, Corcino had a lively 91- to 94-mph fastball and backed it up with a hard slider and a sinking changeup, looking like he’d become a starter with three solid pitches. But his stuff has regressed in the last three seasons, and he now operates more at 90-91 mph with so-so secondary pitches.
Control never was Corcino’s strong suit, and he’s throwing fewer strikes now that he has less trust in his stuff. At this point, his ceiling appears to be that of a middle reliever.
So Corcino might not be the future Cueto like was hoped, but the signs are pointing to a bullpen move having the potential to benefit both his command issues and his declining stuff. While he likely won’t become an impact arm for the Dodgers, Corcino’s addition is yet another move that continues to add more and more depth to a pitching staff that lacked anything of the sort in 2014.