The baseball work was set ablaze late Tuesday night as the biggest blockbuster in recent years hit Twitter. Mookie Betts and David Price (and his contract) are heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kenta Maeda is headed to the Minnesota Twins, while Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol are headed to the Boston Red Sox. In a corresponding move, Joc Peterson is heading down the 405 to the Los Angeles Angels and Luis Rengifo is headed up to the Dodgers. Other pieces are involved in this deal and a post will go up breaking down Andy Pages and any other prospects once the physicals are done and the trade is final.
Every one of the players in the deal has seen MLB time, and only Graterol still has rookie eligibility, so he is the lone player that fits for this site. He saw just 9.2 innings over 10m games, all in relief, where his power sinker was his go to offering. If the Red Sox decide to keep him in the bullpen, he has the makings of a dominant reliever, but I am not ready to write off his starting career just yet. He has that sinking fastball along with a more traditional four-seamer give him the power offering, while he has a slider that sits just under 90 MPH and a two-plan curve to keep hitters even further off balance. I don’t have much faith in the change, but it is not an offering without upside.
His delivery has some late effort and short arm that leaves some concern, but the body suggests he can hold up to the innings and there is plenty of athleticism in his delivery too. When he is working as a starter there is less violence in the end of the process and there is very little concern from me on that. Overall he is immediately the best prospect in the Red Sox system and good enough to open the season in the rotation.
This time of year the moves are sneaky but there are a lot of names involved in this deal that prospect fans are familiar with. Tyler Austin goes from the Minnesota Twins to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Malique Ziegler, while Connor Joe has been designated for assignment to make room for Austin.
Austin was once a top 100 prospect when still with the New York Yankees making a rare three trips to the Arizona Fall League. He is primarily a first baseman but has seen a dozen games in the outfield and had a “breakout” season a year ago when he hit 17 home runs in 69 games with the Yankees and Twins.
Connor Joe has had a busy season already, being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 draft but traded to the Giants. Since he still carries the Rule 5 tag, he will need to be traded to or claimed by another team who will have to place him on their big league roster (something that is somewhat unlikely given he has reached base twice in his first 16 big league plate appearances) or he will be offered back to the Dodgers, the team that had him before the Rule 5 draft.
My focus on trades involving prospects is going to be on those who have yet to make their big league debut, so I am not going to dive further into Joe despite him still very much carrying rookie eligibility. I define prospects as players who have a real shot to make a Major League roster someday, while I consider fringe prospects to be guys that wouldn’t be shocking to see them get a cup of coffee but not necessarily something I expect either, while those I don’t give any real shot at ever making it to the highest level are just org guys. Ziegler just barely makes fringe prospect for me.
He is a 22 year old outfielder with just two games at High A (both this season) under his belt. He is athletic, stealing 26 bags in just 64 games two seasons ago in the Northwest League and can play a solid center field. He has hit just .245 this far in his pro career, but there is hope for the bat. He has good bat plane and quick wrists, but his pitch recognition is poor. He strikes out more than once a game throughout his pro career and takes horrible hacks at off-speed, especially breaking balls from lefties of all pitchers. The back foot is busy, which limits his balance on said off-speed offerings and it limits the amount of power he is able to tap into.
The most likely path for Ziegler to the bigs will be as a September call-up who sees time as a defensive replacement or pinch runner. That said, there is still a shot at the pitch recognition improving enough for his bat speed to come into play and potentially develop into a fourth outfielder, which is something worth taking a shot on for the Twins in exchange for a guy that was likely headed for a DFA given the depth at DH/1B the Twins currently have.
Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: The Twins raised a few eyebrows when they selected Royce Lewis number one overall in 2017 ahead of the likes of Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay, and Kyle Wright, but no Twins fans are complaining about the selection these days. He possesses near top of the scale speed and has looked ok at shortstop thus far. There are still some that feel he is best suited to move to center, but there is growing belief he will stick at short and, possibly, even grow into an above average fielder there. At the plate, he has a leg kick at times, but mellows it with two strikes. The bat is quick to and through the zone, allowing him to make solid contact where his bat plays as plus. There is good power, potential plus for an up-the-middle player, but will always be more of a doubles guy than a home run hitter.
Quick Report: A fastball that sits a high as 98 to go with a power slider, solid curve, and decent change gives Graterol a legit big league arsenal. He is not the tallest of pitchers, but a strong core and lower half suggest he can eat innings despite requiring Tommy John surgery before making his stateside debut. There is some arm bend and inconsistencies in his 3/4 slot delivery, but he manages to pound the strike zone just fine. If he can clean up some of the inconsistent arm slot and head whip, he could be a guy that holds down the number two or three spot of a rotation.
Quick Report: Like the two players ahead of him on this list, Kiriloff started the year in Low A before being promoted to Fort Myers and helping the club win the Florida State League title. Him ranking third in the system is no slight to him, he could easily be ranked second, as Kiriloff is one of the better pure hitters in all the minors. His left-handed swing is quick to the zone and he makes consistent contact with good balance. He hit 20 home runs and 44 doubles in 130 games last season, showing he has plenty of power to be a guy who hits in the middle of the order. He missed all of 2017 due to TJ, but he still has plenty of arm to play right field. Now that he has had a healthy off-season and comes into the year fully healthy, expect to see Kiriloff get fast tracked and possibly even start the year at AA with a late season bump to AAA.
Quick Report: Oregon State’s lineup a year ago was ridiculous, with Nick Madrigal of the White Sox and Cadyn Grenier of the Orioles at the top of the order, then they had presumed number one pick this coming draft Adley Rutschman and the Twins number four prospect Trevor Larnach in the middle of the order. Larnach has plenty of arm to play right but is not the greatest of defenders and could eventually land in left or even first. He has a great feel at the plate, allowing him to show off a plus bat, but has flashed impressive power, although that is inconsistent. In time, I expect more power and less contact from Larnach, turning into a guy who hits .265-.270 and hits 28-30 home runs annually.
Quick Report: A two-time selection of the Twins, Rooker has a big bat with plus power, although the contact rates were lower than many hoped for a season ago. That said, it was his first full pro season, and he spent it at AA and the AFL. Where Rooker will play will go a long way into determining his ultimate value, as he has been slapped with the DH tag by many already. He has seen time in left and at first, although he is not exactly great at either one. He has an upright stance but creates plenty of loft in his swing allowing him to really drive the ball where he will continue to improve his game power into a true plus too.
Quick Report: Duran has a curve that can flash plus but is inconsistent and a change that may eventually be an average offering to go with his plus fastball. At first, this may not seem like a big repertoire, but when you dive deeper and realize his fastball is actually two pitches, an upper-90s four-seam and a cutting, sinking two-seamer that gets into the mid-90s, his arsenal looks a whole lot better. He has a high leg kick with a lot of drive off the back leg before getting to his high 3/4 slot that does have some effort as he falls to the first base side. If the change becomes a pitch he can rely on, he can be a mid-rotation guy, but if it doesn’t he still has the potential to be a closer-type reliever.
Quick Report: I went back and forth on who to place at seven and who to place at eight, but ultimately decided to take floor over ceiling in this one. Gordon is lean just like his dad, Tom Gordon, and half-brother Dee Gordon, but doesn’t have any singular standout tool like those had/have. Nick is more the all-around player who can run a little, hit for a good average (although he really struggled at AAA last year) and play an above average shortstop. Many have questioned if Gordon has the strength to withstand a full season as a regular at the big-league level, which could lead him to be stuck as a utility guy. I saw a good amount of him in the 2016 AFL and love his swing. I feel he has the potential to get off to a hot start this year and earn an early call up to Minnesota where he can earn himself a long-term gig in the middle infield.
Quick Report: Javier has no shortage of tools, but he has just on impressive short season stint in the Appy League to his stateside resume. He missed all of 2018 with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, so there is a wide range of outcomes for Javier. When on the field, he has a solid glove and a very strong arm making him sticking at short a pretty sure thing, although I wouldn’t rule out a move to third or right being a possibility in time. He is lean, but has a strong enough lower half I could see him developing into at least average power to pair with a quick bat that should allow him to hit for a solid average.
Quick Report: Much of Baddoo’s future is going to be tied to his defense, as he is a guy that should be able to play a solid center field his whole career. At the plate, his 2018 numbers would lead you to believe he is more power than hit, although he is really the reverse. The bat can be long, but the plane allows him to hit line drives all over the field. He will be able to put up average-to-better power but shortening the bat just a bit will allow him to become a guy who could hit at the top of an order.
Quick Report: There might not have been an Australian to have as much as Thorpe did early in his pro career, but Tommy John cost him the 2015 season and mono wiped out the 2016 season. He bounced back in 2017, making it up to AA in what was still his age 21 season. Last year he continued his advancement, making it to AAA and is now knocking on the door to be a part of the Twins rotation. He has a good fastball that sits low-90s and touches mid-90s with some run. He has a good curve, decent change, and struggles with a slider. His mechanics are controlled and repeatable, allowing him to pound the zone with good command with all his pitches. 2018 was the first time he pitched more than 100 innings, getting one out from 130, 47 more than any other season. His upside isn’t what we once thought it may be, but he could be a guy at the back of the rotation that eats innings for a decade.