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.
There are plenty of big signing going down at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, but plenty of quality trades taking place as well. The latest, Nomar Mazara headed to the South Side to play for the Chicago White Sox in exchange for outfield prospect Steele Walker.
In the 2018 draft Oklahoma had two highly touted outfield prospects and there was some debate on who would be the better pro. I was on the Steele Walker side of the argument as I felt he was a more polished baseball player, and there was a guarantee he would stick with baseball. That other outfielder no longer plays baseball because he is busy on Sunday’s quarterbacking the Arizona Cardinals, Kyler Murray.
The best tool for Walker is one that is tough to teach, and that is pitch recognition. He demonstrates a plus aye at the plate that has allowed for an OBP better than 70 points higher than his batting average. He has a low stride that allows him to keep his balance well and adjust to off-speed. The hands are quick allowing the bat speed to translate to at least average power.
He is a quality athlete but is no burner, however he has quality instincts that allow him to play a serviceable center field, although left is a better fit. Don’t give up on the idea of him staying in center though, as plenty within the organization are confident he will be able to stick there long term.
In the end, I see him as a fringe-average everyday outfielder or a high-quality number four that can hold his own at all three spots, although the arm is really his lone below average tool. He has the upside of a .275 hitter with 15-20 home run power that provides quality ABs near the bottom of a lineup.
The Los Angeles Angels have shipped the number 15 overall pick in the past MLB draft to the San Francisco Giants for salary relief of Zack Cozart’s contract and other cash considerations. So, what did the Giants “buy” and what did the Angels “sell”?
Will Wilson was a multi-year standout on a quality North Carolina State club and is a better player than his tools would suggest. He is far from an impressive athlete as he runs like a first baseman, but his instincts in the field allow him to be at least an average defender at short. The arm isn’t special but it is definitely enough to stick on the left side and will stick at short although second might be where he fits best.
At the plate he has sneaky pop, hitting 31 home runs over the past two seasons in college and then hit five over 46 games in the Pioneer League. He makes good contact although he will chase a bit too much. There is a rather significant leg kick that, along with his knack to chase the ball out of the zone, will result in an adjustment likely needed when he reaches the higher minors. He does have enough bat control to hit for a solid average and he manages to utilize his legs to get to balls lower in the zone and still drive the ball. I anticipate the plate discipline to get better with pro coaching and that adjustment to come quickly.
In the end I don’t think Wilson will be anything more than an average regular, but he could certainly develop into a well above average utility guy who can fill in at a handful of positions. He is also rather polished, so a cameo in the big league at the end of 2021 is not out of the question.
We have not yet reached the Winter Meetings, but the first big prospect swap has happened as Jake Cronenworth joins Tommy Pham on the way to the San Diego Padres, while Xavier Edwards is heading to the Tampa Bay Rays along with Hunter Renfroe. Edwards and Cronenworth were teammates this offseason with Team USA in the Premier 12, where they failed to qualify for the Olympics but have another shot in March.
Edwards is the best of the two prospects involved in the trade and a virtual lock to make my Rays top 10 prospect list (those will be rolled out starting the first week of the year). Edwards has seen time at both middle infield spots but best fits as a second baseman long term. He has near top scale speed that pairs very well with his well above average contact ability that has seen him hit over .300 at all four levels he has played thus far in his Minor League career. His quick twitch abilities will allow him to fill in at short in a pinch but at second he is an above-average defender and will likely be a staple at the top of the Rays lineup sometime in 2022.
Cronenworth was a two-way player in college at Michigan but played primarily at short in his pro career. He can absolutely hold down the position defensively and has a good bat when it comes to contact, but the power is limited and doesn’t have a true plus tool outside of potentially his arm. That arm led the Rays to give him some run on the mound in 2019 where he did not allow a run and struck out 9 in 7.1 innings. He has a quality fastball and has shown the makings of a quality curve that could see him making the big leagues as a reliever, although his defensive ability will make it hard to move him to a full time pitcher. He will likely debut this coming season in San Diego and provide incredible flexibility in the NL that we have not seen in quite some time.