The Marlins, faced with an impossible hole to fill following the untimely death of Jose Fernandez, on Thursday completed a deal for a starter as they look to compete in the tough National League East in 2017.
Miami traded its No. 2 prospect, righthander Luis Castillo, as well as No. 13 prospect Austin Brice and outfielder Isaiah White to Cincinnati for righthander Dan Straily, a spring waiver acquisition who posted a 3.76 ERA in 191.1 innings.
Luis Castillo, rhp
This is the second time the Marlins have traded Castillo in seven months, and odds are he won’t be returning to Miami this time. Originally acquired from the Giants along with righthander Kendry Flores in a December 2014 deal for Casey McGehee, Castillo was traded by Miami to the Padres in July, only to return when Colin Rea reported to Miami with a bad elbow and later had Tommy John surgery.
Castillo moved from the bullpen to a starting role in July 2015 and broke out in 2016 thanks to outstanding arm strength. He hit 101 mph in 2016 and sat consistently at 96-97. He has easy velocity, with a smooth delivery that helps his fastball jump on hitters, though it can be straight at times. Castillo throws from a three-quarters arm angle, which helps give his slider depth and some curveball-like action. It projects as an above-average pitch. Castillo has feel for a power changeup, but he's still finding the right grip. It has potential to be an average pitch as well. He has shown great makeup and the ability to overcome in-game adversity. He could begin the year at Double-A, but already 24 it’s possible the Reds jump him to Triple-A.
|Austin Brice, rhp
Brice signed for $205,000 in 2010, and he was ranked among the Marlins’ Top 30 Prospects six times. It took six seasons for Brice to get onto the 40-man roster, and in the seventh year, he got to the majors. The ninth-rounder from Pittsboro, N.C., has his best season after moving to the bullpen. He's always had swing-and-miss stuff, but he started mixing a two-seam fastball at 90-94 mph for ground balls along with a power, downer slider that helps him dominate righthanded hitters (.203 average). He lacked a third pitch to keep lefthanders at bay, although he showed improvement against lefties from his career norms (.267 vs. .319 opponent average in 2015). His control improved after the change in role, largely because he stopped nibbling as he did as a starter, while his strikeout rate remained in line with career norms. He could help the Reds in the big league bullpen this season.
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|Isaiah White, of
White was drafted out of tiny Greenfield School in Wilson, N.C., which had never had a player drafted and then had two popped in 2015. He is a super athletic player with plus-plus speed. One scout compared him to Royals burner Terrence Gore. But White is very raw as a ballplayer. He lacks polish and will need plenty of at-bats to stabilize his approach. He was not accustomed to facing top-notch pitching as an amateur and will have to continue to make adjustments at the plate. White does not recognize pitches well and generally needs a hitting approach. Scouts are split on his bat speed, with one rating it as top-of-the-scale but another saying it was just average. He has the raw speed to outrun mistakes in the outfield, and he needs plenty of experience to improve his routes and reads to stick in center. He’s a classic high-risk, high-reward toolsy prep outfielder.
Dan Straily, rhp
Straily, a late-spring waiver claim, became the Reds’ stalwart starter, going 14-8, 3.76 with 191.1 innings. Originally a 24th-round pick by Oakland from Marshall in 2009, Straily was the minor league strikeout leader in 2012 and made his big league debut later that season. After going 10-8, 3.96 in 2013, he was part of the Athletics’ ill-fated trade for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel that sent shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Billy McKinney to the Cubs on July 4, 2014. Straily was traded two more times and placed on waivers, winding up with the Reds. Straily did allow 31 homers—tied for the most in the National League with Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer—but the Marlins are betting that the more-spacious Marlins Park will tamp down that problem somewhat. He’s a four-pitch righthander who relies heavily on his four-seamer, which parks around 90 mph, slider and changeup. He’s a flyball pitcher who had much more success against lefthanded hitters (.645 OPS) in 2016 than righthanded hitters (.763 OPS).