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Have reportedly acquired OF-R Steven Souza and LHP Travis Ott from Washington Nationals, and C-R Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith and 1B-L Jake Bauers from San Diego Padres, in three-way trade. Tampa Bay sends OF-R Wil Myers, C-R Ryan Hanigan and LHP Jose Castillo to San Diego. [12/17]
Souza might be the first player to have his final play with a franchise result in a game-ending catch to save a no-hitter. It was the icing on the cake for the reclamation of his prospect status, as he moves to Tampa as one of the headline pieces. Souza possesses a blend of physical strength and speed, showing ability to hit for power and provide athleticism on the bases and in the field. With his tepid past seemingly behind him, the Rays are hoping that increased exposure and opportunity will only increase his value. The Nationals had a log jam in the outfield, which made the transfer of Souza easy on their end. The Rays are largely assuming that Souza can provide the same value (or more) as Wil Myers moving forward. It's possible, if Souza can hit to his High 5 ceiling as listed on the Nationals Top 10 List. —Tucker Blair
Smith was drafted three times, twice by Cleveland, and finally ended up signing with San Diego in 2011. Questions still remain about the big right-hander's role, and the missed development time in 2014 (forearm injury) doesn't help his cause to one day start. Smith has a detailed profile from his call up in 2013. He features a big-time fastball, and has shown the ability to command the pitch in the strike zone, but has been unable to spin a consistent breaking ball. The changeup is the more reliable of the secondary offerings, with the ability to miss bats. Since Smith is from Texas, he obviously deserves the benefit of the doubt as far as I'm concerned, but time is running out on his likelihood to start.
For Bauers, it starts and ends with the hit tool. Plain and simple, the physically maxed first baseman will have to continue to hone his approach and mash his way up the chain. The teenager employs a clean stroke from the left side, complemented with impressive bat speed. However, the swing is built for hard line drives, not backspin and power. His approach is impressive, but he'll have to get on base 36 percent of the time or better in order to play regularly at a position where offense is paramount. Due to the lack of power, Bauers' upside is a second-division first baseman.
Ott is a 25th round selection in 2013 out of a small town in Pennsylvania. His odds of making the big leagues were already stacked against him. Yet, the skinny, projectable left-hander has shown big-league potential. Since signing, Ott has made strides physically, and is starting to add some mass to his 6-foot-4 frame. He has a fastball that ranges from 88-92, with a developing curveball and changeup that could be fringe-average down the line. If it all clicks, he's a back-end starter or swing man. Anecdotally, this may be Chris Mellen's new favorite prospect. He did not have any college scholarship offers out of high school, and was going to go to vocational school to be a #diesel technician. —Jordan Gorosh
Rene Rivera, C
In 2014, Rivera showed he could sneak up on people and hit double-digit homers, and doing so for the Padres is no walk in the park. His fantasy stock is raised because he’s no longer jockeying for playing time with super-prospect Austin Hedges. Rivera should be the everyday guy in Tampa Bay. Not that fantasy owners should really care—as he was the 27th-ranked fantasy catcher in ESPN leagues—but his value did increase. Just not to a level that matters in any real sense.
Burch Smith, RHP
The 24-year-old only appeared in two games last year, due to injury, before throwing 14 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. It’s hard to gauge anything from his 2014 campaign; however, the right-hander did display an ability to induce swings-and-misses the year prior. His value takes a dip because the Rays don’t have a need in the rotation and his best-case role is as a sixth- or seventh-inning reliever. Smith could be an interesting arm going forward, though, depending on how his forearm and elbow hold up.
Steven Souza, OF
This man will be a fantasy darling on draft day this spring. Souza hit .350/.432/.590 with 18 homers and 26 stolen bases in Triple-A last year, but his opportunity for playing time in DC was nonexistent. The 25-year-old was blocked by Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper. Thus, he’ll move to Tampa Bay with an everyday role waiting for him in right field. The power is real. He could hit 20+ homers, even in a difficult stadium, and offer double-digit stolen bases. The hit tool remains a question mark. It’s unlikely he hits north of .300 in the majors, but he could hit .270ish. With the power/speed combination to go along with that, Steven Souza is a name with whom fantasy owners should get extremely comfortable. Bump him up your draft boards now. —J.P. Breen
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College shortstops are a rare commodity in 2014—major league teams tend not to let elite athletes escape their grasp out of high school. Turner proved to be the exception, generating first-round buzz beginning with his freshman campaign at NC State. After being selected in the first round by the Padres this past June, Turner tore up the Midwest League with a .369/.447/.529 line with 14 steals in 46 games. The shortstop bombarded less advanced opposition with speed and a progressive approach at the plate, and took over games at times. A plus-plus in-game runner with quick-twitch actions, Turner has the athleticism to stick at shortstop and make an impact on the basepaths. With more repetition against better players, the hit tool has the chance to play to a solid-average level, and the game power should play to 40-grade. In order to be a first-division regular or even more, Turner must continue to cut down on routine mistakes in the field, while making more consistent hard contact. —Jordan Gorosh
The younger brother of Padres starter Tyson, Joe isn't as broad and heavy but he's arguably the best athlete on the field whenever he steps on the mound. At a listed 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Ross blazed his way to Double-A on the back of a crisp fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and touched 97. The slider and changeup sit around the same velo band (83-87) and both flash plus potential. He was comfortable throwing any pitch in any count, and had fire on the mound—he consistently challenged hitters with 95+ up in the zone in two-strike counts. His fastball control was solid and the command took a step forward the second time I saw him in early July. With better poise in pressure situations and some more pitchability, Ross could develop into a quality middle-of-the-rotation starter with the upside of a borderline no. 2. —Chris Rodriguez
Joe Ross, RHP
Ross wasn’t likely to crack the major-league rotation on opening day in San Diego, and he almost certainly won’t in our nation’s capital. The Nationals could lose Jordan Zimmermann after the 2015 season and are looking to increase the organization’s flexibility going forward. While much may be said about Ross’ removal from a pitching-friendly environment at Petco, people may not realize that Nationals Park had the second-lowest park factor for home runs last year. He’s not moving to a bandbox. The right-hander likely begins the season in Double-A, trying to build off an uneven campaign. His upside remains a mid-rotation starter; though, one must realize his fantasy appeal is tempered due to his lack of supreme strikeout ability. —J.P. Breen