posted 6/3/10 9:38 PM PST
by Jeff Moore
It was a good winter to own a moving van. After all, you can charge extra to move a Cy Young Award, right?
We now know how all of the pieces that changed places this off-season are working out for their respective teams but what about the prospects that were sent back in return? Some we’ve heard from in the majors already, others are still honing their craft between bus rides and Burger King. These are the guys who will make the difference down the road.
Or so their new teams hope…
THE BIG NAMES: The Mariners trade RHP Brandon Morrow to the Blue Jays for RHP Brandon League.
THE PROSPECTS: The Mariners also acquired OF Johermyn Chavez
A 6’3” Venezualen who had been all potential and little production, Chavez broke out in his second season in Lo-A ball last season with an .821 OPS and 21 HR's. Now in the California League, Chavez has continued to keep it together with a .301 BA and 22 extra base hits. His plate discipline will never be stellar, but he is bringing it closer to respectability with each season. The biggest question for Chavez will be to see if pitching at the more advanced levels of the minors can exploit his aggressiveness and get him to chase pitches out of the strike zone, but the 21 year-old appears to be heading in the right direction in that regard.
THE BIG NAMES: The Yankees send OF Melky Cabrera and LHP Mike Dunn to the Braves for RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Boone Logan.
THE PROSPECTS: The Braves also acquired RHP Arodys Vizcaino.
Vizcaino is a highly-talented 19 year-old who the Yankees did not want to give up, but also had yet to appear in a full-season league or throw more than 45 innings in a season. If those were the biggest question marks surrounding Vazquez, then the Braves have little left to worry about.
The 6'0" right-hander has handled the Sally League with ease, posting a 6.56 K/BB ratio. None of his peripheral stats lead me to believe that his performance thus far has been an aberration, hence his 2.52 ERA and 2.50 FIP. In other words, he’s exactly as good as he appears to be.
Which is very good.
THE BIG NAMES: The Blue Jays send RHP Roy Halladay to the Phillies, who send LHP Cliff Lee to the Mariners in a separate but congruent trade.
THE PROSPECTS: The Phillies send RHP Kyle Drabek, C Travis D’Arnaud, and OF Michael Taylor to Toronto and receive RHP Phillippe Aumont, OF Tyson Gillies, and RHP J.C. Ramirez from Seattle.
This was the big one.
The Blue Jays cashed in their ace for a potential top-of-the-rotation starter in Drabek, who has repaid their faith with a quality start to his 2010 season in Double-A, where he spent part of 2009 as well. The 22 year-old could easily be in Triple-A by mid-season and in Toronto by next year.
D’Arnaud has shown off more power as a Blue Jay (.851 OPS in 29 games) than he did as a Phillie. Should that trend continue, it would elevate him from a potential regular to a potential all-star catcher. He’s still far away (only in High-A ball this season), but he’s in his second full-season of minor league ball and is closing in on 1000 professional at-bats already despite still being only 21-years-old. D’Arnaud will need to work on his plate discipline ( his 2.01 K/BB ratio is too high), especially if this season’s power display is a fluke, but he should still develop into a player who can contribute for the Jays.
Taylor was flipped to the A’s immediately, and we’ll discuss him below.
To make up for the players they gave up to get Halladay, the Phillies sent incumbent ace Cliff Lee to Seattle for prospects to replenish their farm system. The only problem (besides the obvious lack of killer instinct) is that the trio they got in return isn’t nearly as good as the trio they sent away.
Aumont has all the raw ability he had when he was drafted in the first round by Seattle in 2007 but clearly no clue how to use it. He has run into the standard mechanical issues that most pitchers his size (6’7”) have when they try to repeat their delivery, but those are multiplied by two other factors – (1) Aumont is from Canada, meaning that he did not get to play nearly as many games as an amateur as prep players in warmer climates, and (2) between two organizations, Aumont has been jerked in and out of the rotation without ever having a chance to acclimate himself to one style of pitching.
Back in the starting rotation in Double-A this year, the results have not been good. The Phillies have tried to refine his mechanics to make him more consistent but all it’s done is vary his velocity from one start to the next. His mid-90’s fastball sometimes shows up in the high-80’s instead and the 21 year-old has walked as many batters as he has struck out. The book is far from closed on Aumont but he’ll need to get the mechanics under control and hope that the Phillies find a home for him and keep him there.
Gillies has been equally as disappointing since becoming a Phillie. While expectations were to be tempered considering he was coming off a career season in an extreme hitters league, certainly more than a .237/.282/.340 performance was expected. Gillies’ BABIP is down almost .100 points from last season, where it was not unsustainably high, so some bad luck can be attributed to his struggles. However, the low BABIP has mostly been caused by a low line drive rate, which signals that Gillies just isn’t squaring up Double-A pitching. The 21 year-old has also battled some injuries this season so there’s no reason to think Gillies can’t turn his 2010 campaign around, but so far the Phillies can’t like what they’ve seen.
Ramirez is the only Phillies acquisition that has performed to his career levels, and his 4.10 ERA and 8 K/9 are right in line with what he has done in the past. Unfortunately for the Phillies, Ramirez doesn’t necessarily project as a future starter and may find his home in the bullpen.
THE BIG NAMES: None
THE PROSPECTS: The A’s send Brett Wallace to the Blue Jays for Michael Taylor
The rare swap of prospects of a similar caliber that just don’t have an immediate home in their current organizations. The Blue Jays flipped Taylor to the A’s for Wallace almost immediately, mainly because their outfield was crowded but they weren’t confident in anyone in their farm system as their future first baseman (not a good sign for David Cooper). The A’s found themselves in a similar situation with lots of potential corner INF’s but in need of an impact bat for their outfield.
Taylor, a career .302 hitter in the minors, appears to be that bat but has struggled in the A’s organization. A’s fans shouldn’t worry too much, however, as the 23 year-old is suffering from a bit of bad luck (BABIP is about 70 points lower than his career average). The bad sign is that his two lowest BABIP numbers in the minors have come in his two stints in Triple-A, which hopefully for A’s fans doesn’t signal an inability to make consistent contact with more advanced pitching.
Wallace appears to be having no such problems, and his .276/.342/.505 line should land him in Toronto sometime this season. The 23 year-old doesn’t control the strike zone quite as well as you’d like out of a power hitter, but Triple-A pitchers haven’t exploited him too much and his rates have been consistent with the rest of his professional career.
Jeff Moore is the creator of MLB Prospect Watch, your one-stop site for all the information you need about minor league prospects. If it happens on the farm, it happens here!