August 1, 2013
Prospects Will Break Your Heart
The Top Ten Prospects Traded at the Deadline
The forecast called for a prospect-heavy deadline, with rumored deals involving proven major league talents like Cliff Lee and Jake Peavy who were expected to fetch some big names in the minor league world. However, the main haul in the Jake Peavy trade turned out to be young, major league ready talent, not names that appeared on the mid-season top 50. And despite a lot of words getting wasted on the possibilities, the Cliff Lees of the world were not turned into prospect treasure.
This led to a very lackluster deadline, with the Matt Garza trade responsible for moving around the most impact talent, while the majority of deals were centered around fringe prospects or relief arms that aren't easy to get excited about. While the book isn't written on any of the players, the minor leaguers who changed hands this summer are unlikely candidates to change fortunes, and without the dream of a high ceiling or high impact, it's hard to sell the reality of average-at-best skill-sets to fanbases that were anticipating a brighter tomorrow. I tried to anyway. Because I'm a good person.
The Top Five
1. Prospect: Mike Olt
From: Rangers to Cubs
Notes: The de facto top prospect prize moved this summer, Olt was once a no-brainer top 50 talent, but struggles at the plate have depressed his value, and the Rangers made him expendable in the deal for Matt Garza. The ceiling is still in the first-division range, with an average hit tool but legit over-the-fence power potential, the kind that is quite appealing given his above-average defensive profile at third base. The downside is a hit tool that might fail to play up to average and could limit the utility of his power, making him an exploitable target of higher-level pitching. I’d put a role 5 on him, with some risk given the questions about the bat-to-ball ability.
2. Prospect: Grant Green
From: A’s to Angels
Notes: I’ve never been high on Grant Green, mostly because I never liked the approach or the swing against quality stuff, and the defensive versatility is in name only, as his prowess at any given spot is suspect. It’s a cliché, but he’s a baseball player with skills, so he will be an eventual contributor to a major league roster, either as a super-utility option or a second-division type at second or perhaps third if everything clicks. I’d put a high role 4 on him, with a low risk factor.
3. Prospect: C.J. Edwards
From: Rangers to Cubs
Notes: Opinions vary on the young arm, but having put eyes on him on numerous occasions, I think the statistical success on the field paints a picture of a prospect with more impact potential than the scouting reports might suggest. The arm is super loose and easy, and I love the way the ball comes out of his hand, working in the low-to-mid 90s with good movement. The curveball can get big, and as with any curveball (especially at the higher level), it’s a pitch predicated on a hitter wanting to swing, which puts pressure on the arm to locate the fastball early in counts. The curve has good shape and projects to be at least an average offering, but a tough pitch to lean on against advanced bats.
Edwards’ body might be his biggest hurdle, as the lengthy frame is very thin and doesn’t project to hold much weight. It’s hard to envision that body holding 200-plus innings year after year without breaking down, regardless of the fluid delivery. I think he could be a no. 4 starter, but might have more impact potential in a late-inning capacity, where his fastball could work in the plus-plus range. Role 5 for me, with a moderate risk because of the body and lack of a secondary pitch that projects as a true plus weapon.
4. Prospect: Danry Vasquez
From: Tigers to Astros
Notes: Underrated acquisition by the Astros; their best move of the summer. Vazquez has a long way to go to realize his full potential, but it’s not hard to dream on the bat, as the hit tool projects in the solid-average-to-plus range, and several scouts put a 6 on the raw power, which has yet to really show up in game action. The defensive profile isn’t all that sexy, so the bat will carry the burden of value. This is a very interesting position prospect, and the 19-year-old Venezuelan could be ready for a big step forward in 2014.
5. Prospect: L.J. Hoes
From: Orioles to Astros
Notes: I’ve always wanted to be higher on Hoes but haven’t been able to buy into the profile. It’s a corner glove with fringe-average run and an average-at-best arm, so to find a home in the starting lineup, his bat is going to have to play. He makes pitchers work, with a good approach and discerning eye, giving him an on-base dimension to go along with some contact ability. The power is below average and the speed isn’t a big weapon, so the offensive profile is limited to hard contact, the kind that is a lot easier to achieve in Triple-A than the majors. I think he has a fringe-average ceiling and will play as a role 4; a quality reserve outfielder with good baseball skills and a low risk factor.
The Next Five:
6. Prospect: Matt Stites
From: Padres to Diamondbacks
Notes: Big fastball that can touch 99; average slider that can play; late-inning potential; most likely a seventh-inning type.
7. Prospect: Francellis Montas
From: Red Sox to White Sox
Notes: Flamethrower capable of dialing it up to 100; arm isn’t always super easy; command is an issue; inconsistent secondary stuff; late-inning impact potential but it comes at a high risk.
8. Prospect: Josh Hader
From: Orioles to Astros
Notes: Long-armed southpaw with projectable arsenal; fastball can work 89-93 with good movement delivered from low slot; curveball is below-average; changeup can show a little something; long-term project but something to work with; could be a role 5 arm, although the risk factor is high because of his age (19) and unrefined secondary arsenal.
9. Prospect: Nick Delmonico
From: Orioles to Brewers
Notes: Has some pop; projects as a 5 power type; bat is below average; glove is fringy at 3B; role 4 prospect with risk; less than ideal profile.
10. Prospect: Kyle Smith
From: Royals to Astros
Notes: Diminutive right-hander with a very good curveball and feel for pitching; fastball is fringy, working in the upper-80s and peaking in the lower-90s; curveball is straight money pitch, but hard to see it playing at the higher levels unless the fastball ticks up and the command is especially sharp. Role high 4 player for me, but he’s interesting because of the curve and the feel. Size and present fastball raise the risk factor.
Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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