Potential As Big As the Panama Canal: Joaquin Tejada's Story So Far
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When the Pirates traded veteran lefty Tyler Anderson, many people were holding their breath after the snafu with the Phillies, and a failed physical on the Phillies end soured the deal. Fast forward to late in the night of July 27th or early in the morning of the 28th; however, you crazy kids look at it, Anderson was dealt to the Seattle Mariners for what seemed to be just one prospect in Carter Bins. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE (Billy Mays voice); a second name popped up maybe an hour later that ended up being 18-year-old Joaquin Tejada.
Tejada was signed in 2019 by the Mariners for a $200,000 signing bonus and was immediately assigned to the DSL Mariners. The 5'10, 160-pound teenager is already hitting in the low 90's and could see a significant uptick in velocity once he fills out more and maybe gets in a good weight lifting program. Unfortunately for Tejada, the young man had to wait for his debut for over a year. He then made his professional debut on July 15th and pitched three good innings. He would make one more appearance before being acquired by the Pirates.
The one thing that everyone looks at when they look at a pitcher is, what kind of pitches are we working with and how many can be relied upon to get outs consistently. Tejada has three plus pitches with a fastball (40/45), a curveball (55/60), and a slider (50/55). From the very little tape I was able to get on Tejada; I can tell you that his breaking stuff looked really good, especially that curveball. You could also see on the tape that he had a good feel for his command, which would explain FanGraph's grade of 20/50, showing plus command.
(Yes, you're seeing this right! Joaquin Tejada was in the 2016 LLWS)
July 29th, AKA yesterday, Tejada made his Pirates debut for the DSL Pirates Black Squad. He piggybacked off of Sebastian Rodriguez, who had pitched 4.0 hitless innings. Tejada did give up the no-hitter but still pitched a pretty damn good game all in all. Tejada's line reads 3.0 IP, 2 hits, 0 ERs, 1 BB, and 2 Ks. (Side note) Both the Pirates and Cubs had a no-hitter going into the 5th inning, and both were broken up in the 5th inning.
The young Panamanian turned 18 just a few weeks ago, so there is definite room for growth, size, and improvement. With the right regiment, coaching, and diet, I could see Tejada being a mainstay in a rotation down the line. With an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and a curveball that could become elite, I'd say the sky is the limit for Tejada.
(Side note) Tejada is currently ranked 40th in the Pirates system according to FanGraphs and has a 40 FV rating.