As the trade deadline gets closer and closer, teams continue to make moves to position themselves for one of five playoff spots in each league. Tuesday was headlined by three deals, including the movement of Wandy Rodriguez and Hanley Ramirez to new teams.
The Astros continued to sell their tradable commodities by moving Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for outfielder Robbie Grossman, and left-handed pitchers Colton Cain and Rudy Owens.
Grossman is the headliner of the prospects in the deal, coming off a breakout 2011 campaign that raised his prospect stock significantly. With Double-A Altoona this year, Grossman has notched a .262/.374/.403 line with 20 doubles and seven home runs.
From a scouting perspective, the opinions are split on Grossman. He has an excellent approach and above-average contact abilities at the plate, giving him a chance to hit for a decent average and draw walks. He lacks more than below-average power. He is a bit of a tweener in the outfield, with barely enough for center field but without the offensive profile for a corner spot.
The 21-year old Cain was an over-slot signing out of the 2009 draft. Cain lacks a dominating pitch but can confuse hitters with his combination of movement and deception on all three pitches. His fastball peaks in the upper-80s and his curveball and change-up will both flash as average pitches. Scouts that like him see a potential back of the rotation starter, while others walk away less impressed.
Owens is the oldest of the prospects flipped to the Astros and he could provide mediocre help in the big leagues this year. He has a fringy fastball and breaking ball and his change-up flashes as his best pitch. He commands his arsenal well and may see some time as a fifth starter.
The Marlins are apparently starting to sell off pieces at this point and Hanley Ramirez was the first big domino to fall. Ramirez has been a superstar at times but has struggled the last two years.
In exchange for flipping their former franchise player, the Marlins received Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough from the Dodgers, two pitchers with legitimate big league futures. Though Eovaldi is technically no longer a prospect, he does feature a mid-90s heater that has touched triple digits in short bursts.
McGough was drafted out of Oregon in 2011 and he has moved quickly through the Dodgers system, spending this year at High-A. I have spoken to some scout that believe McGough could get outs in the big leagues right now. He has a fastball that ranges from 91-97 mph with the ability to manipulate the velocity at will. His slider occasionally shows plus potential and could be a second very nice pitch, leaving him with setup potential.
The final deal to touch on today is the Diamondbacks decision to send third baseman Ryan Roberts to the Rays for second base prospect Tyler Bortnick. I have had plenty of exposure to Bortnick and I tend to think his future is a little brighter than many scouts, possibly because my judgment is admittedly clouded.
Bortnick is a classic grinder that has always played above his raw tools. He handles the bat well and has an excellent approach at the plate. He can hit for a solid average, steal the occasional base with above-average speed and even pick up his share of doubles. He is an assertive defender that leaves it all on the field. With no standout tools, Bortnick’s profile is stuck in the utility realm, but knowing his past, I wouldn’t put it past him to carve out an extensive big league career in a backup role.