The least heralded prospect acquired by the Miami Marlins from Toronto last week was easily Anthony Desclafani. Desclafani, at 22 years old, is still a pretty good young pitcher. With the Toronto Blue Jays, Desclafani was often overshadowed by the Jays talented trio of pitchers in Lansing at the same time he was. Now with Miami, Desclafani will have to learn to locate his fastball more accurately and develop one of his offspeed pitches in order to stay relevant with the rest of Miami's young pitching prospects.
Anthony Desclafani was born in April of 1990 in Freehold, New Jersey. New Jersey, and indeed the Northeast in general, is not exactly a baseball hotbed. For this reason, pitching prospects from this area often lack the experience against higher competition that high schoolers from more traditional baseball states have. Desclafani is the only baseball player to ever be drafted from Colts Neck High School. Sclafani was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the 22nd round of the 2008 draft, but he decided to go to school at the University of Florida.
As a freshman at Florida, Desclafani made a solid impression, pitching in 21 games, eleven starts, allowing only thirty-six runs in sixty-five innings. Desclafani dominated Florida Atlantic one day, striking out seven and only giving up one hit. In his sophomore season, Desclafani took a major step back. However, after an impressive run in the Cape Cod League, Desclafani had a bounce back junior season. He struck out thirty-nine batters in forty-four innings and posted an ERA of 4.33.
After the Blue Jays selected him in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Amateur draft, Desclafani decided to forego his senior season and sign with Toronto. Toronto inked him for a $250,000 signing bonus.
Anthony Desclafani's repertoire includes a fastball in the low 90's, a changeup, a curveball, and a slider. Desclafani's changeup needs a lot of work and neither his curveball nor his slider are major league out pitches. However, his fastball is a decent pitch with the potential to get even better. Desclafani's command and pitch location need to improve in order for his to use his arsenal to its fullest potential.
In 2012, Desclafani played the entire year with Lansing of the Midwest League. In 123 innings, he posted a 2.70 FIP and only allowed three home runs all season. His 1.83 walks per nine innings was stunningly impressive, as was his 70 percent strand rate or left on base (LOB) rate. His strikeout rate was not very impressive and the LOB rate suggested that Desclafani had a lot of luck on his side. Desclafani never dominated the Midwest League, but he definitely proved that he is ready for the next step in minor league baseball.
Anthony Desclafani probably projects as a middle reliever down the road. He lacks the plus pitch required of a starting pitcher and he doesn't have a true out pitch. However, the Marlins obviously see something in him and hopefully that will be revealed in 2013. Speaking optimistically, Desclafani will probably start out the 2013 season with High-A Jupiter. This will be a huge year in Desclafani's career, as he all have to prove that he can keep up with the other young pitching prospects on their way to Miami.