It was plain July 4 that Addison Russell would be the best prospect traded in July 2014.
But as Thursday’s July 31 trade deadline passed, no prospects who were better than the A’s duo got moved. Instead, the more valuable currency at the deadline proved to be young, cost-controlled major leaguers, such as Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin, who were part of the package the Rays received in sending David Price to the Tigers.
Nevertheless, prospects were traded Thursday and in the the rest of the month. At Baseball America, we rank prospects. So let’s get to it, with a ranking of the top prospects traded in July 2014.
1. Addison Russell, ss, A’s to Cubs: Not even close. Top five prospect in baseball for his all-around athleticism and offensive ability.
2. Billy McKinney, of, A’s to Cubs: Advanced bat for his age puts McKinney this high. Just 19, he’s off to a strong start in his new organization (.301/.386/.446) through 24 games in high Class A.
3. Colin Moran, 3b, Marlins to Astros: Houston liked Moran so much in 2013, it almost drafted him No. 1 overall. B.J. Surhoff’s nephew has a similar skill set with a bit less athleticism, but his arm strength and good hands should allow him to stick at third base.
4. Willy Adames, ss, Tigers to Rays: Potentially the key to the David Price deal, Adames has the highest ceiling of any prospect traded on July 31. He’s a smooth fielder and potentially plus defender with athleticism. Moreover, scouts give the 18-year-old a chance to hit.
5. Eduardo Rodriguez, lhp, Orioles to Red Sox: Rodriguez threw more than 160 innings last season as a 20-year-old, culminating with a start in the Arizona Fall League championship game. He’s shown effects of the fatigue this year, but he’s still a lefty with a chance to throw three average-to-above-average pitches, and he’s reached Double-A.
6. Jake Thompson, rhp, Tigers to Rangers: Thompson throws four pitches for strikes, and some scouts love his slider, considering it a plus pitch. He’s reached Double-A by age 20 and has a potential innings-eating No. 3 starter profile at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds.
7. James Ramsey, of, Cardinals to Indians: St. Louis had a glut of outfielders, but that’s not the case in Cleveland, where Ramsey could move quickly. Scouts who like him see him as a center fielder with solid-average power, defensive savvy and a strong arm. Others see him as a ‘tweener who lacks corner-profile power.
8. Victor Caratini, c, Braves to Cubs: A switch-hitting Puerto Rican out of Miami-Dade CC, Caratini saw his draft stock rise when he added catching to his repertoire. He has made a strong impression already at the plate, hitting .279/.352/.406 in his full-season debut.
9. Taylor Lindsey, 2b, Angels to Padres: He entered the year as the Angels’ top prospect, but Lindsey has gone a bit backward with a power drop in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He’s still just 22 and has a chance to be an offensive second baseman.
10. Edwin Escobar, lhp, Giants to Red Sox: Escobar’s low release point leaves his breaking ball inconsistent, and he’s been punished for it at Triple-A Fresno. Some scouts see him as a reliever, and his Futures Game look showed diminished arm speed.
Missed the Cut
R.J. Alvarez, rhp (Angels to Padres): Hardest thrower traded this month steadily reaches the upper 90s, may fit eighth-inning profile
Rafael De Paula, rhp (Yankees to Padres): Still starting and still throwing in the mid-90s, but secondary stuff portends bullpen future
Mitch Haniger, of (Brewers to Diamondbacks): Modest, injury-plagued 2014 season, but if he clicks he fits the right-field profile; likely a second-division regular
Peter O’Brien, c/1b/of (Yankees to Diamondbacks): Has tremendous power, but doesn’t control strike zone and lacks a defensive home
Jose Rondon, ss/2b (Angels to Padres): Lacks impact tools but has the athleticism to make contact and play in the middle infield
Zack Walters, util (Nationals to Indians): Likely swings and misses too much to be a regular, but has power and can play the infield
Austin Wates, of (Astros to Marlins): Contact-oriented potential center fielder, not a burner but could be a table-setter