I got tied up at the ball park with some Nick Castellanos interviews yesterday but I wanted to circle back and hit the scouting reports on the prospects involved in the flurry of trades leading up to yesterday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
The Red Sox made two moves as the deadline neared, acquiring Craig Breslow for Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik and then sending first baseman Lars Anderson to the Indians for right-hander Steven Wright. The Anderson for Wright swap is the only one that involves prospects and it’s a curious move.
Wright is a born-again prospect, having converted to the knuckleball. It’s hard to make anything of a prospect that’s throwing a knuckleball because sometimes they just appear out of thin air like R.A. Dickey this season with the Mets. Wright is an interesting project but one that is an extreme long shot.
In exchange, the Indians pick up the once highly though of Lars Anderson. Anderson has pop in his bat and good knowledge of the strike zone but scouts have fallen out of favor with him because of his complete lack of bat speed, noting that he has the classic “slider bat speed.” He will likely play in the Major Leagues over the next few years but not as anything more than a fringy everyday guy at best.
In a move that has been anticipated since they signed him during the offseason, the Royals moved closer Jonathan Broxton to the Cincinnati Reds for two prospects; J.C. Sulbaran and Donnie Joseph. Sulbaran is the better of the two prospects, offering a low-90s fastball that has scraped 95 in past outings. Employing a consistent delivery has been a challenge for Sulbaran, leading to control problems and massive bouts with inconsistency. He will flash the occasional plus curveball and change-up, but neither has shown at that level regularly. Sulbaran is a high-risk proposition that could be a mid-rotation starter if everything clicks, or he could never secure a lengthy big league opportunity.
Joseph is a fine second piece to the deal, showing a 90-95 mph fastball from the left side in relief. He has plenty of effort in his delivery but that does lend to his fastball getting on hitters and making him more difficult to pick up. His slider could be a plus pitch with more consistency. With the effort in his delivery, Joseph struggles to throw strikes and few scouts project him for even average command, but if he can find the zone with some regularity he could be a nice seventh or eighth inning lefty.
The Marlins continued to be busy at the deadline, sending reliever Edward Mujica to the Cardinals and first baseman Gaby Sanchez to the Pirates in separate deals.
For Mujica the Marlins acquired third baseman Zach Cox, a former first round pick of the Cardinals whose stock has been falling for the better part of a year. Cox has a solid understanding of the strike zone and a good approach to his at-bats. Most scouts I spoke with believe he will be a solid-average hitter that can post .275-.280 batting averages in the big leagues with fringy (14-16 HR) power. He has a plus arm at third base but lacks the mobility or quickness for much range, leaving him as a fringe-average defender. Cox will be a big leaguer, but likely not one that stands out on a regular basis.
In exchange for parting with Sanchez, the Marlins received outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and a competitive balance pick. Hernandez is an outstanding defensive outfielder and has been since he burst on the scene with the Tigers several years ago. He has excellent range thanks to quick jumps and flawless routes. He regularly earns 70 grades for his defensive prowess and his arm has earned plus scores as well. For all his defensive talents, Hernandez hasn’t developed offensively. He lacks punch in his bat and though he makes consistent contact, his approach is poor and he often makes weak contact because he expands his strike zone. He profiles as a solid fourth outfielder in the big leagues.
Because they included the competitive balance pick, the Pirates did manage to get another piece back in the deal, albeit a modest one. Right-hander Kyle Kaminska pounds the strike zone with an arsenal full of fringy offerings. He is a middle reliever at best and will likely be more along the lines of Triple-A depth.
Lastly, the Rangers managed to get the starting pitcher they so desperately sought, adding Ryan Dempster right as the deadline came to a close. After having a deal with the Braves fall through that would have netted right-hander Randall Delgado, the Cubs finally consummated a deal that included third baseman Christian Villanueva and righty Kyle Hendricks.
In Villanueva, the Cubs get a really nice all-around prospect, though one that may never be a star. For a young hitter, he approaches his at-bats with a consistent game plan and is able to make adjustments on the fly. He has plus bat speed and good hands. Scouts vary on his hit tool, but most think he will be an average hitter in time. He shows pop in batting practice and it is easy to project him for a ceiling of average power because of his approach and contact ability. He is a very good defensive third baseman and will be an asset on the left side of the infield.
Hendricks is a control artist that relies heavily on his ability to locate his entire arsenal. His fastball previously sat in the 87-89 range and touched 90 mph but he’s bumped that up a bit this year and has been flashing some low-90s four-seamers that reach 94 mph on occasion. His two-seamer shows excellent movement in the lower levels of that velocity range, inducing easy weak contact. He is an intelligent pitcher – as you might expect from a Dartmouth kid – and he rarely gives in to walk hitters. His slider has improved and he mixes in a solid change-up as well. He may not profile as more than a number five starter, but he could get to the big leagues quickly.
While the non-waiver deadline has passed, I do plan to keep up with scouting reports on prospects dealt after the deadline and will try to chime in on any PTBNL that are formally identified down the line.