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Tirado was an unobtainable dream when the Phillies acquired him, and he continues to look like an unobtainable dream. He struggled in the Lakewood bullpen to start the year before being sent Florida to stretch out. He was then sent back up to Lakewood as a starter, and he is starting to find his groove again. At his best Tirado shows a fastball sitting 93-97 touching 98-100 with run and sink. His slider is in the mid 80s and features sharp two plane break. His changeup has shown above average potential in the past with good fade and deception. The problem has been finding the strike zone, and while he has done better of late he has struggled to repeat his delivery and release point. Tirado’s future is almost certainly in the bullpen, but if he can make some strides in his control, he could be an elite reliever.
Role: #2 Starter/High Leverage Reliever
Risk: Extreme – Even when effective in relief, Tirado has been unable to find the strikezone. If he can’t find the strikezone, he does not have a major league future in any role. If he finds his control, he could be a top end starting pitcher or lights out closer.
Summary: There is probably no prospect in the Phillies’ system with a wider gap between floor and ceiling as Tirado. His stuff is absolutely electric, his fastball sits 94-97 and will touch 98, but has shown the ability to get to 100. His slider is a wipeout pitch that is plus to plus plus. Tirado did not throw his changeup much in the bullpen, but in starts it showed the potential to be a plus pitch. He has the raw stuff to be a frontline starter, but raw stuff is not everything. This year saw Tirado move to the bullpen to try and jump start a struggling career. While his control was still atrocious, he was able to miss enough bats and generate enough weak contact to still be successful. The bullpen is Tirado’s likely final destination, because the control leaps needed to be a starter are enormous. However the Phillies have indicated that they are going to stretch him back out as a starter. Tirado turned 21 this winter, so there is time to give the experiment a chance, because the payoff could be immense. If Tirado can’t stick in the rotation, his ceiling in the bullpen is still high, and he could develop into a dominant back of a bullpen asset.
2016 Outlook: If the Phillies are trying Tirado as a starter, he will likely to join the Clearwater rotation where he can work with the bulk of the Phillies player dev staff. If the Phillies just want to throw him in the bullpen, he could start in AA and would arrive as fast as his control allows him to.
What Happened: After struggling in low-A pitching out of the rotation, the Blue Jays moved Tirado to the bullpen and sent him to the Florida State League in 2015. He has taken off in the bullpen showing a fastball in the mid-90s that can get to 100, and a devastating slider that has been described as plus and as high as plus plus. He also has a changeup that has looked average or better from his starting days. He has struggled with control throughout his career, and the last month and a half have been rough on that front for him. He was traded to the Phillies along with Jimmy Cordero for Ben Revere.
What Next: Tirado will likely go to the Clearwater bullpen and try and get his control back to usable. If he can get back to throwing strikes, he will move quickly again and could reach the majors very quickly. He projects as a back of the bullpen impact reliever and could form a devastating 1-2 punch with Ken Giles. However, Ruben Amaro has mentioned that the Phillies may try to stretch Tirado back out as a starter next season. He has top of the rotation upside if he can harness all of his stuff as a starting pitcher.
- July 31, 2015 – Traded to Phillies from the Toronto Blue Jays along with RHP Jimmy Cordero for OF Ben Revere
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