|After waiting patiently through years of injuries and more injuries, the Marlins finally decided they’d seen enough of first baseman Jason Stokes. The 2000 second-round pick was traded to the Athletics for catcher/first baseman John Baker.|
|The Big Leaguers|
|None; neither player has reached the majors yet.|
|Stokes, 25, got $2.027 million to sign in 2000 and was widely considered one of the game’s elite power prospects after tearing up the Midwest League in 2002, when he batted .341/.421/.645 with 27 home runs at age 20 at low Class A Kane County. However, he lost control of the strike zone at upper levels, as evidenced by a 35-85 walk-strikeout ratio last season at Triple-A Albuquerque. Stokes has had significant left wrist injuries since 2002, and back and shoulder woes have limited him to just 79 games the last two seasons. The injuries and poor discipline have rendered his tremendous raw power less usable than it was at lower levels.
Baker, 26, continues to earn playing time at the upper levels as a lefthanded-hitting catcher with offensive potential. The Marlins already have had him in their system albeit briefly, as they picked him up on waivers Dec. 15, 2005, when the A’s removed him from their 40-man roster; the A’s got him back under similar circumstances 21 days later. Baker hit .273/.361/.386 last season at Triple-A Sacramento, and that’s close to his career line (.270/.358/.404). He’s a line-drive hitter, and his career-best season of 15 homers in 2004 at Double-A Midland appear to be an outlier. Defensively, he’s considered a below-average receiver and thrower, and opponents stole bases at a 72 percent success rate against him last year.
|Baker was an extra piece for the A’s, who are catching-rich with Kurt Suzuki, Landon Powell, Anthony Recker and Jeremy Brown either at their upper levels or considered prospects. Baker fills an organizational need for the Marlins, and the cost was a damaged player in Stokes who might thrive with the change of scenery but whose window of opportunity with Florida clearly had closed.|