Archive for July, 2013

The Colorado Rockies send LF Carlos Gonzalez to the New York Mets in exchange for pitchers Rafael Montero,  Jeurys Famillia and Jack Leathersich.

Sandy Alderson has made it clear his priority is to bring in a major bat to set behind David Wright in the line-up, and while I hesitate to use the term untouchable, I don’t see the Mets parting with Noah Syndergaard even in a deal for Cargo.  That is just not this front office’s MO. Cargo, who is only 27 and in his prime, is signed through the 2017 season and would fit the bill perfectly.

Hitting in Colorado has never been a problem.  What the Rockies need is pitching, and a lot of it.  It appears that their plans for Drew Pomeranz have not panned out.  The same could be said for Alex White before his arm injury and subsequent trade to the Houston Astros.  The Mets have an abundance of young pitching and it is a strength with which they can deal from.

In Rafael Montero, who started for the World Team in this year’s Future’s Game, the Rockies would be getting a premium young arm, who has a chance to be in the front of Colorado’s rotation for a long time.  Montero features a premium fastball that misses bats and a plus slider, curve and change-up.  He was lights out this year at AA Binghamton, before being promoted to AAA Las Vegas in the hitter friendly PCL.

In Jeurys Familia, the Rockies would be getting another near Major League ready arm that they could slot into the middle of the rotation.  Like Montero, Familia has a premium fastball and a plus slider.  The lack of any plus pitches outside of that puts Familia behind Montero in my book, and he projects more as a number 3 or 4 starter.  Right now, both Montero and Familia are better than any pitcher in the upper levels of the Rockies minor league system.

In Jack Leathersich, the Rockies would be getting a dominant reliever who strikes out a lot of batters.  Unlike Montero and Familia, Leathersich would work out of the pen.  In 46 innings so far this season, split between AA and AAA, Leathersich has struck out 84 batters in 47-plus innings with a 2.83 ERA.  At age 23, Leathersich could be a fixture at the back end of the Rockies bullpen for a long time.

This deal makes a lot of sense for both teams.

Angels deal 1B CJ Cron and RJ Alvarez to the Brewers for Yovani Gallardo and Frankie Rodriguez.

This is a deal that makes perfect sense for both teams.  The Angels have one of baseball’s highest payrolls and are built to win now.  The Brewers, mired in last place, are in perhaps baseball’s toughest division.

The Angels are in desperate need of arms in both the rotation and the bullpen.  Gallardo is a proven veteran, and although he is not a true number one, he is a top of the rotation type pitcher capable of getting outs and eating up innings when his team needs it.  And a change of scenery would probably to him good.

In 2013, K-Rod’s career seems rejuvenated.  Moving K-Rod into a set-up role with the team he’s had his most success makes sense.  Already having Frieri locking things down in the ninth, Rodriguez would give the Halos another experienced power arm in the 7th or 8th, or possibly spell Frieri here and there.

In return, the Brewers would be receiving two of the Angels top prospects.  First baseman CJ Cron, a 23-year-old power hitting first baseman is blocked for the foreseeable future in Anaheim by Albert Pujols.  First base is a problem the Brewers have had since Prince Fielder left and the power hitting Cron should be able to bring some stability and power to the position late next year.

The ninth inning has also proven to be a problem for the Brewers over the last few years, using multiple pitchers from Axelrod to Henderson to K-Rod in that role without definitive success.  Drafted by the Angels with their first pick in the 2012 draft, RJ Alvarez is a pure power arm who is averaging almost 15 strikeouts per nine innings at High A.  He has a little bit in the way of control problems but should improve over time.  A prototypical closer with a 100 mph fastball, Alvarez is on the fast track and I would not be surprised to see him break camp with a big league club in 2014.

Deadline Deals Part 2

Posted: July 12, 2013 in by Freddy Berowski

The Houston Astros send 1B Chris Carter and P Bud Norris to the Texas Rangers in exchange for SS Luis Sardinas, P Luke Jackson and C Jorge Alfaro.

The Houston Astros are a long way off from contending, so there really is no need to look for near Major League ready talent in any trade.  This trade makes a lot of sense from both team’s standpoints.  Houston would acquire three talented young players with a chance to help the ball club long term, once they are ready to contend again, and the Rangers get pieces for right now.

In Sardinas, Houston would be acquiring one of the top minor league shortstops in baseball.  Outstanding with the glove, Sardinas has a fantastic arm and the ability to drive the ball all-over the field.  He has plus speed on the basepaths so he should be a threat near the top of the line-up in the future.  The Rangers, with an excess in the middle infield (Kinsler and Profar), really have talent to spare here and Sardinas should be the center piece.

In Jorge Alfaro, the Rangers would be giving up a young, raw catcher with tremendous upside.  Alfaro’s best skills are his arm and his power.  He has battled injuries over the last few seasons, but there is no doubt about his talent.  If he can stay healthy he should be able to continue developing with an eye on late 2015.

Luke Jackson has a plus fastball and is already striking out more than a batter per inning in the minor leagues.  If he can gain better command of his two average off-speed pitches, he should have a chance to hold down the back end of a big league rotation.  If not, he still projects as a quality short man out of the bullpen.

In Carter and Norris, the Rangers would be acquiring two pieces that they really need right now as they are locked in a dog fight for first place in the AL West with the Oakland A’s.  In Carter, they would be acquiring a legit power bat that can play first base or DH and slide into the middle of the Rangers line-up.  With Norris, they get a legit middle of the rotation starter that can pitch quality innings and slide in nicely every fifth day right behind Darvish, Holland and Ogando.  This would take the pressure off of the Rangers coaching staff from having to play musical starters every week.

The Rangers are built to win now.  The Astros are several years away.  This is a traditional baseball deal that makes sense for both teams.

Greetings, fellow prospectors.

As we approach the Futures Game, a.k.a. the All-Star game for minor leaguers, many are already making lists and checking them more than twice to see which prospects have gone above and beyond during the first half.

Here is my own personal list, based upon both potential and performance. Must currently be playing in the minors to rank. Note – there are no 2013 draft picks.

1)    Byron Buxton (Twins) – Really, was there any doubt? He has destroyed the Midwest League and gotten a promotion to High-A already in a system known for not rushing their top guys. Shows everything you want in a 5-tool prospect.

2)    Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) – His abilities defy his youth, especially his power. Might force a call to Fenway this year if he keeps it up.

3)    Miguel Sano (Twins) – I’d say the Twins have the top system overall, and he’s a big reason why, literally. Best power in the minors plus improved plate discipline make him more dangerous than ever.

4)    Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks) – Made the hitter-friendly California league look like child’s play, and is the minors’ top arm right now, in my opinion.

5)    Taijuan Walker (Mariners) – Very close debate between him and Bradley for top arm, and he’s off to a terrific year so far, including an excellent debut in AAA Tacoma.

6)    Nick Castellanos (Tigers) – Improved plate discipline in AA Erie led to a promotion where his power is showing up. Only a matter of time before he’s up to the D.

7)    Carlos Correa (Astros) – An all-around performer, a slow start is all but forgotten as he’s leading his team in hitting and could soon be promoted to an even friendlier hitting environment at High-A Lancaster.

8)    Oscar Taveras (Cardinals) – Injuries kept him off the top five, but when he’s healthy, he simply can’t be kept off the basepaths.

9)    Robert Stephenson (Reds) – Prior to his injury, he was the Midwest League’s top arm, with both amazing heat and secondary stuff. I believe he’s worthy of a two level bump to AA Pensacola after  he returns.

10) Francisco Lindor (Indians) – Can do it all, save power, especially in the field. Best hitter in the Carolina League for me, and I don’t see him staying there much longer.

11) Gregory Polanco (Pirates) – True 5-tool potential, with great hitting ability and speed. I could see him playing alongside McCutchen as early as next year.

12) Noah Syndergaard (Mets) – With Wheeler now in the bigs, this is their top arm. The Florida State League wasn’t much of a challenge, and the Eastern League doesn’t seem to be, either.

13) Javier Baez (Cubs) – Once he cuts back on the K’s, he’s going to be practically unstoppable at the plate. Awesome power, as the four-in-one-game earlier this year showed.

14) Maikel Franco (Phillies) – Showed flashes of brilliance in the second half of last year, and has gotten even better this year, in all areas.

15) George Springer (Astros) – One of the minors’ top power hitters, and is now just a phone call from Houston. I have a feeling we’ll see him there later this year.

16) Christian Yelich (Marlins) – When healthy, he has perhaps the best swing in the minors and at least average power. Easily their best prospect who has yet to get the call.

17) Gary Sanchez (Yankees) – I think he’ll turn out to be the guy Montero should have been for their system.

18) Jameson Taillon (Pirates) – Has everything necessary to succeed in Pittsburgh – except a free opening. Will likely need to try out AAA Indianapolis for a while first.

19) Henry Owens (Red Sox) – Went through a makeover in the offseason, including improved velocity and secondary pitches, and definitely impressed Cherrington himself recently. Portland beckons.

20) Taylor Guerrieri (Rays) – Proof you don’t need to strike everyone out to succeed. Currently has a 22 IP scoreless streak going, with great stuff in his arsenal.

21) Garin Cecchini (Red Sox) – Speed, both on the bases and in his bat, lead to success for him.

22) Jonathan Singleton (Astros) – After his 50-game suspension, it’s as if he never left. Breezed through two levels and will likely see Houston very soon.

23) Tyler Glasnow (Pirates) – The less talked-about arm in their system, he can strike batters out at will when his command is on point.

24) Addison Russell (A’s) – Started off slow after a lofty promotion, his tools are all above average across the board, and they’re showing now.

25) Kyle Crick (Giants) – Now healthy, he will be the latest in a line of home-grown arms in their system to succeed. Been compared to a young Cain already.

Helium Alert – Julio Urias (Dodgers) – a 16-year old in full season ball is rare enough, but his pitches are causing some serious chatter. One to watch, intently.

25 More Honorable Mentions – Dylan Bundy, Tyler Skaggs, Jorge Soler, Kevin Gausman, Alex Meyer, Aaron Sanchez, Carlos Martinez, Max Fried, Yordano Ventura, Raul Adalberto Mondesi, Michael Wacha, Albert Almora, Eddie Rosario, Jesse Biddle, Alen Hansen, Rafael DePaula, Kyle Zimmer, Jake Marisnick, Lance McCullers, Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Mike Foltynewicz, Eddie Butler, Jesse Winker, Sonny Gray.

Each season, as the MLB trade deadline approaches, there are a few top prospects that get moved for veterans.  Sometimes it is a surprise, sometimes it is a long-time rumor.  Sometimes it works out for one team, sometimes for both, sometimes for neither.  What I will be examining over the next four weeks are prospect-centered deals that make sense for both teams, and that could actually happen.

With that, I present, trade 1.

Tigers trade OF Nick Castellanos and P Bruce Rondon to the Philadelphia Phillies for P Jonathon Papelbon and P Cliff Lee. 

Ruben Amaro has repeatedly stated that he is not trading off his core players.  GM speak: The right deal has yet to present itself.  Today the Phillies stand 7 games out of first and 3 games under .500.  The team is aging and they are not playing crisp baseball.  Injuries have taken their toll both this year and last, with most of their core in their mid-30s, and a farm system that is barren of upper level talent. This deal would go a long way towards clearing salary from the books and giving the team a burst of near major-league ready youth that it sorely needs.   That coupled with expiring contracts of Halladay, Utley and Young, should free up enough money for Phils to re-tool in the off season.

In the last seven years, the Detroit Tigers have played the role of the Bridesmaid twice, falling in 2006 to the Cardinals, and last year to the Giants.  In those two series, the Tigers won only one game, and also lost the 2011 ALCS 4 games to 2, to the Texas Rangers.  The Tigers have not been crowned World Series champion in nearly thirty years.  With Cabrera, Fielder, Verlander and Scherzer in their primes, and a good supporting cast of Martinez, Hunter, Fister, Jackson, Benoit and others, now is the time for Detroit to make their move.  The Tigers decided to try and fill their closer role internally this season, and that strategy has not worked.  In Papelbon, the Tigers would be landing a stable, elite closer, and in Cliff Lee, a pitcher with staff ace pedigree and a proven track record in the post season.  This trade would be enough to push the Tigers from contenders, to favorites in October