Scouting the Swap: Liriano, Johnson Dealt

Several more moves have dotted the trade deadline landscape over the last couple of days, including moves that sent left-hander Francisco Liriano and third baseman Chris Johnson packing. As usual, I will give brief scouting reports on the prospects involved in these deals.

In an intra-division swap the Twins sent enigmatic and oft-injured left-hander Francisco Liriano to the Chicago White Sox for a pair of prospects, left-hander Pedro Hernandez and infielder Eduardo Escobar. This marks the second time in the last year that Hernandez has been dealt, arriving in Chicago when Carlos Quentin went to the Padres during the off-season.

Hernandez lacks a standout pitch but he will show fringe-average velocity from the left side, topping out at 92 mph when he reaches back for more. He pounds the strike zone but has yet to consistently keep the ball down, leaving him prone to home runs. Some scouts I have spoken with like his change-up as an average pitch while his slider is below-average and lacks the bite to miss bats at the upper levels. At best, Hernandez profiles as a back of the rotation piece and more likely as a long reliever.

Escobar isn’t really a prospect given his MLB service time, but he remains a relative unknown so I will break him down anyway. Escobar is an instinctual player that moves well on the infield and can handle all three spots with ease. He has the range and arm strength for shortstop, but lacks the offensive upside or elite-level glove to play every day. Escobar’s bat is modest with some doubles power and decent contact ability. He profiles as a good utility option off the bench.

The Arizona Diamondbacks made a move to shore up third base in the short term, picking up Chris Johnson from the Astros as Houston continues its all-out rebuilding effort.  In exchange, the Astros add a pair of interesting bats in outfielder Marc Krauss and corner infielder Bobby Borchering.

Krauss is a bit of the classic three true outcomes type with tons of patience, plenty of pop and plenty of swing and miss in his game. He is the very definition of a bat-first prospect with little defensive value as a left fielder without athleticism. He gets on base at a good clip and can drive the ball out of the park with plus power, but will that be enough to keep him in the lineup every day? Most scouts I speak with view him as more of a platoon player that could fit well with the Astros move to the American League.

Borchering is another bat-first player, though he does have a slim chance to stick at the hot corner. As a switch hitter with plus power from both sides, Borchering draws plenty of interest from scouts, though his approach to hitting may be his undoing. Borchering swings at far too many pitches out of the strike zone and lacks the contact ability to make use of his power in game situations. There’s a chance Borchering cashes in on his offensive potential and becomes a five hitter in a solid big league lineup, but it could take a while before that even looks like a realistic possibility.

I will continue to break down the scouting reports of the prospects involved in the remaining deadline deals, so check back over the next couple of days.

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