The transition from the offseason to spring training hasn’t slowed Jerry Dipoto down one bit.
The Mariners’ free-wheeling general manager made yet another trade on Wednesday night, shipping No. 6 prospect Drew Jackson and hard-throwing righthanded reliever Aneurys Zabala to the Dodgers in exchange for righthander Chase De Jong.
“Chase is a very polished pitcher coming off a very solid season at Double-A,” Dipoto said in a statement. “We see him as a guy knocking at the door as a Major League starting pitcher.”
The trade is Dipoto’s 14th since Nov. 1 and the second involving one of the Mariners’ top 10 prospects. It’s also the 40th trade Dipoto has made since being hired as the Mariners general manager on Sept. 28, 2015.
The Mariners designated infielder Mike Freeman for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for De Jong.
Chase De Jong, rhp
The Dodgers acquired the Long Beach native from the Blue Jays in 2015, and De Jong took off after joining his hometown team. Acquired as a low Class A starter, De Jong reached Triple-A less than a year and a half later and is now knocking on the door to the big leagues. He relies more on pinpoint command and guile than raw stuff. His fastball sits 88-92 mph and his breaking ball grades average and his changeup fringe-average. De Jong excels, however, at moving his pitches around the strike zone and changing hitters’ eye levels, keeping them off balance and staying away from their hot zones. He is also a good athlete who fields his position and controls the run game well. That package of skills allowed him to go 15-5, 2.82 across Double-A and Triple-A last season and earn Texas League pitcher of the year honors. De Jong is a fly ball pitcher whose tendencies should play well at Safeco Field. He has a chance to be a back-of-the-rotation starter and could pitch for the Mariners this year with a solid start at Triple-A Tacoma.
|Oklahoma City (AAA)||1||0||1.69||1||1||0||5.1||6||0||1||8||.273|
Drew Jackson, ss
Jackson, the younger brother of former Cubs outfielder Brett Jackson, was drafted in the fifth round out of Stanford in 2015 and has ranked as one of the Mariners’ Top 10 Prospects going into each of his first two full professional seasons. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the minors, earning 70 grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, and has an arm routinely described as a “cannon.” His supreme athleticism and arm strength helped him be named the high Class A California League’s best defensive shortstop in Best Tools balloting last season. As exciting as those attributes are, Jackson is considered a fringe-average hitter with below-average power at best. He struggled in the hitter-friendly Cal League, performing worse as the year went on, and hit just .149 (7-for-47) in the Arizona Fall League. Few evaluators believe in his bat, but Jackson’s speed and defensive potential give him a chance to reach the majors as a utility infielder. He will likely open his Dodgers career at Double-A Tulsa.
|Aneurys Zabala, rhp
The Mariners signed Zabala out of the Dominican Republic as part of their 2013-14 international class and have moved him slowly. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound reliever repeated the Rookie-level Arizona League this season and showed a fastball up to 99 mph, but struggled with poor control. His 5.4 BB/9 rate was actually worse than his first go-round in the AZL, although his strikeouts rate increased as well. Zabala’s main secondary pitch is a low-80s curveball that some evaluators project to average. Zabala is one of many hard-throwing relievers in the low minors without much control, but is worth a flyer as a raw project who could become a late-inning reliever with a breakthrough. He has a chance to open the 2017 season at low Class A Great Lakes.
|AZL Mariners (R)||1||5||2.88||16||0||1||25||15||1||15||28||.167|