Looking into the Marlins’ Groundball Pitchers: Dallas Trahern


(MJ: I’d like to officially welcome John Herold to Marlin Maniac. John is a fellow Marlins fan and knows his stuff with regards to the team, and I think he’ll bring some excellent insight and analysis to the site. I’ve asked for John’s focus to be on the minor leagues, where I am admittedly weaker. However, it does not mean he won’t be discussing big-league baseball along with myself in his tenure here. You can expect a lot of good minor league analysis from him as we move forward. Enjoy his first piece, and leave some feedback!)

First and foremost, hello all readers of Marlin Maniac.  It’s great to be on board here with Michael, and hopefully you’ll enjoy reading my pieces as much as you enjoy reading his.

Bryan Smith over at FanGraphs just finished a series focusing on one of the more underrated prospects in the game: right handed ground ball pitchers that don’t light up the radar gun. So I’d like to look into our own starting pitchers in the minors that fit this bill.

We currently only have one true sinkerballer in the minors: Dallas Trahern.  Received in the Miguel Cabrera trade, he doesn’t really fit the mold as “underrated” as he was a well-regarded prospect coming up through the Tigers system.  His sinking fastball can touch 94, though sits in the 90 range.  More importantly is the rate he gets groundballs at: before coming to Florida, he had a career 62% ground ball rate.

Going into 2007, he was ranked the 8th best prospect for their team by Baseball America.  John Sickel’s similarly ranked him 10th, giving him a C+ grade.  His rank was not nearly as high in our system due to our depth, but he was still ranked 10th by BA, 13th by Sickel (again with a C+), and 16th by Ramp at Future Fish going into the 2008 season.

Comparing his main 3 peripherals with that of the average ground ball pitcher with his time with the Tigers, we see things aren’t as pretty:

LevelTrahern K/9Average K/9Trahern BB/9Average BB/9Trahern HR/9Average HR/9
Low A3.816.462.882.410.520.58
High A5.356.552.552.700.560.47
Double A5.096.732.822.960.610.59

Trahern’s lack of secondary stuff puts him quite below average when it comes to strike outs, although he’s right on line with other ground ball pitchers in walks and home runs.  This mostly hurt him when it came to pitching against LHB:


His strong sinking fastball helped him do very well against RHB, but LHP were able to read it and punish him.  Unless he’s able to develop his secondary pitchers down the road to help him against his opposite hand, he’s looking more like a relief pitcher than a starting pitcher.

2008 was a horrible season for Dallas Trahern.  Dealing with a blister on this thumb the entire year, his walks rose to above average rates and his GB% dropped to 55%.  Most harming was the long ball, in part thanks to playing for Albuquerque (Which is exactly like the old Coors).  After putting up a 0.57 HR/9 in his first 3 years of full season pro ball, that rate nearly tripled to 1.62 in 2008.  Sickel’s dropped his grade to a C and Ramp dropped him to #29.

2009 wasn’t any better.  After making six starts with ineffective control for New Orleans, Trahern had an MRI on his elbow. Initially, surgery did not appear necessary, but he went under the knife in September. Dr. Andrews performed Tommy John and Flexor Tendon surgery, both of which were successful.

Trahern will miss all of 2010, and because of this, the Marlins took him off their 40-man roster at the start of the offseason.  It will be interesting to note what the Marlins do with Trahern after 2010, as he will be a minor league free agent.  If the Marlins want to keep him, they’ll have to add him back to their 40-man roster.  They had a similar situation this offseason with Hayden Penn (though Penn’s problems are ineffectiveness and not injury).  If he bounces back well from surgery, he will likely be added, and could then be a contender for a spot in 2011 pitching staff.  If he doesn’t respond well to rehab, then the only time you’ll ever hear his name again is in an answer to a Miguel Cabrera trivia question.