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Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs' Derrick Hall: Corbin leads in tight fifth starter race

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Patrick Corbin throws against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning in an exhibition spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The competition for the fifth starter spot in the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation appears to be heating up.

The D-backs entered camp this spring with three legitimate young hurlers in Patrick Corbin, Randall Delgado and Tyler Skaggs, who all certainly have the talent and upside to win the job.

Corbin has appeared to be the frontrunner all spring long, showing he has command of his pitches, and is locating the ball well.

The 23-year-old is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 10 innings of work this spring. He has allowed five earned runs, with most of the damage coming in one poor relief outing in which he surrendered four runs.

But, D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall told Arizona Sports 620's Doug & Wolf Thursday, while Corbin may have set the bar in the fifth starter competition, the other pitchers are starting to rise to the occasion.

"It's hard to say because [Patrick] Corbin has pitched so well and then you look at [Randall] Delgado [Wednesday] night," Hall said. "He threw four scoreless innings and he was filthy. I mean his change-up, his fastball. He was 95, 96 [mph]. That's the guy we knew we were getting in the trade for Justin Upton along with Prado and others, but he looked great."

While it appears to be a two-horse race between Corbin and Delgado, Hall isn't discounting Skaggs' chances of making a run for the spot.

"[Tyler] Skaggs is so talented he's going to show flashes throughout the spring that he belongs there," Hall stated.

Skaggs could have the highest ceiling of the three pitchers, and is rated as the top left-handed pitching prospect in major league baseball. But, so far this spring, he has allowed nine earned runs over 6.1 innings pitched and has often struggled with his command.

But Delgado is an interesting prospect, coming over with a lot of hype and fanfare from the Atlanta Braves organization, which has bred many top-tier pitchers over the years. Before Wednesday night's strong outing, Delgado had scuffled. The 23-year-old right-hander has now allowed six runs -- five earned -- in seven innings of work.

But if Wednesday's performance is any indication of what's to come for Delgado, the D-backs could be in for a spirited fight to the finish, after all.

"I think if you're an odds maker you'd probably put Corbin in the lead right now, but Delgado certainly opened eyes again [Wednesday] night and said ‘wait a minute, this isn't Corbin's yet,'" Hall said.

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