|Brewers general manager Doug Melvin carried through on his promise to trade Zack Greinke before the July 31 trade deadline, sending the righthander to the Angels for a trio of minor leaguers that included Los Angeles’ top position-player prospect and top pitching prospect. Milwaukee restocks its system with shortstop Jean Segura and righthanders Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena. All three players have spent most of the season with Double-A Arkansas of the Texas League, and all three have two minor league options remaining after this season.
Not only do the Angels acquire arguably the best starting pitcher available this summer (much like they did with Dan Haren in 2010) but they do so while keeping Greinke away from the Rangers, their American League West rivals. (Melvin later revealed that the Rangers finished runner-up in the Greinke sweepstakes.) Free agent eligible at season’s end, Greinke teams with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson at the top of the Los Angeles rotation, giving them a formidable front four if Haren returns to form.
First-year Angels GM Jerry Dipoto dropped $331.5 million last offseason to bring free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to town, and he’s dealt prospect currency for Greinke as well as closer Ernesto Frieri (Alexi Amarista, Donn Roach) and catcher Chris Iannetta (Tyler Chatwood), leaving the Angels farm system dangerously thin, especially in terms of potential impact talent. Barring Mike Trout and Garrett Richards from consideration because they’re in the big leagues, Los Angeles’ top prospect above the Class A level could be either Triple-A third baseman Luis Jimenez or center fielder Travis Witherspoon, who reached Double-A in mid-June after making the high Class A California League all-star team.
In a twist of fate, Dipoto also factored in the Angels’ Haren trade that shipped pitching prospects Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin to the Diamondbacks in July 2010. Serving as Arizona’s interim GM at the time, Dipoto acquired not only Skaggs and Corbin from the Angels for Haren but also Daniel Hudson and David Holmberg from the White Sox for Edwin Jackson, a series of transactions that kick-started the Diamondbacks’ pitching revitalization.
|Jean Segura, ss
Age: 22. Born: Mar 17, 1990 in San Juan, Dominican Republic
Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 165.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Angels, Jan. 22, 2007.
Milwaukee surrendered a top shortstop prospect (Alcides Escobar) when it traded for Greinke less than two years ago, and now they acquire a shortstop prospect as they ship Greinke out of town. With strong hands and excellent bat speed, Segura has a significantly higher offensive ceiling than Escobar, though he lacks the range and consistency to profile as more than an average defender at shortstop. His biggest offensive weakness is his aggressiveness, which at times leads him to give away at-bats. The Brewers may accept that tradeoff given Segura’s offensive ceiling. Most scouts figure he’ll be a plus hitter and plus basestealer, with the strength to hit for at least average power and the baserunning acumen to steal at least 20 bases per season in his prime. Segura played second base up through 2010, and his plus arm strength would fit at third base if the Brewers move him off shortstop. He ranked ninth in the Texas League in hitting (.294) and second with 33 steals at the time of the trade.
|Johnny Hellweg, rhp
Age: 23. Born: Oct 29, 1988 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Ht.: 6-9. Wt.: 210.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Florida CC.
Career Transactions: Selected by Angels in 16th round of 2008 draft; signed June 10, 2008.
A late-bloomer who found his groove after moving from the bullpen to the rotation at high Class A Inland Empire last June, Hellweg shows the potential for two plus pitches and an average changeup, making him at worst a mid-rotation starter. He maintains 94-96 mph velocity for the duration of his starts while breaking off low- to mid-80s curveballs with tight rotation. Most scouts grade his fastball as a 70 on the 20-80 scale. Tall and lanky, Hellweg loses his release point at times, costing him control, though he’s slashed his walk rate dramatically in three straight seasons in the minors.
|Ariel Pena, rhp
Age: 23. Born: May 20, 1989 in Los Jovillos, Dominican Republic
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Angels, Feb. 17, 2007.
Pena won’t live down his dreadful Futures Game appearance from this year (eight runs, seven hits in a third of an inning) unless or until he establishes himself in the big leagues. He throws enough strikes to profile as a starter, though he lacks a consistent third pitch to complement his plus 92-95 mph fastball and power mid-80s slider. He throws a changeup but lacks confidence in the pitch. The overall package leaves him in the mix for back-of-the-rotation innings or potentially set-up work.
|Zack Greinke, rhp
Age: 28. Throws: R. Remaining Commitment: Under contract for $13.5 million this season (approximately $2.25 million per month).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.