Trading big leaguers for prospects has become an Astros tradition.
In year four of the club’s teardown and rebuilding project, Houston dealt away big league righthander Jarred Cosart, utility infielder Enrique Hernandez and outfield prospect Austin Wates, landing the Marlins’ No. 2 (Jake Marisnick) and No. 3 (Colin Moran) prospects in return as well as the first pick in the first part of the competitive balance round in the 2015 draft. The competitive balance pick is a significant piece of this trade. Last year, the first pick in the competitive balance pick was the 35th overall pick. With the first pick in the competitive balance pick, the Astros will likely get a bonus allocation of roughly $1.6-$1.7 million , adding significantly to their draft budget.
Colin Moran, 3b
Moran was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft after an excellent career at North Carolina, where he was Baseball America’s Freshman of the Year in 2011 and a Golden Spikes finalist as a junior. Moran is a relatively safe prospect who has a very good chance to be a big league regular but is unlikely to become an impact player. His up-the-middle approach and excellent hands allow him to hit for average, but he would need to change his approach to hit for more power. He has natural strength but doesn’t pull the ball consistently. Defensively, his strong, accurate arm makes up for his limited range. He’s a bottom-of-the-scale runner who does not move well, leading a number of scouts to worry about whether he can stay at third base long term. A lot of his value will be tied to staying at third base, and his overall package resembles that of former big leaguer Dave Magadan, another corner infielder who could hit but who didn’t have profile power.
Jake Marisnick, of
Marisnick will be an impact big league outfielder if he can hit, but that’s been the question surrounding him for years, ever since the Blue Jays paid him $1 million as a third-round pick in the 2009 draft. Marisnick runs very well, should be an above-average defender in center field with an above-average arm that allows him to play right field as well. Marisnick has shown improved selectivity this year, but he’s still vulnerable to pitchers who get him to chase offspeed pitches off the plate. His swing has some length and his hand-eye coordination is only average, which will likely limit his ability to ever hit for average. Those weaknesses have been apparent in short stints in Miami in 2013 and 2014. But if he can just improve enough to be an average hitter, he’s got average power, which could make him a very productive center fielder.
|New Orleans (PCL)||AAA||.277||89||343||50||95||16||4||10||40||17||64||24||.326||.434|
Francis Martes, rhp
Martes is the perfect hard-throwing flier to get as an add-in in a larger trade. A Top 20 DSL/VSL prospect ($) by Baseball America coming out of last season, Martes has seen his fastball jump from 90-94 mph when he signed to 97+ at his best now. His delivery is pretty clean and he’s shown feel for a changeup, which is why scouts see him as having starting potential.
Austin Wates, of
Aggressiveness can be a good attribute for a hitter, but with a player like Wates, who has a line-drive swing and doesn’t pull the ball with authority consistently, drawing walks is a key part of becoming a potential table-setter. A third-round pick in 2010 out of Virginia Tech, Wates has made a big step forward in that regard this year, cutting his strikeout rate while maintaining the jump in his walk rate he demonstrated late last year. Wates is an above-average runner who has a knack for stealing bases. He most likely profiles as a fourth outfielder (although it’s more difficult for righthanded hitters to fill those roles) whose upside is as an everyday center fielder with average defense and a below-average arm.
|Oklahoma City (PCL)||AAA||.299||74||281||44||84||11||3||2||30||43||45||31||.396||.381|
Enrique Hernandez, if
A sixth-round pick in 2009 out of Puerto Rico, Hernandez was a no-hit middle infielder just a year ago. He’d never posted an OPS above .750 and he was viewed as a utility infielder with a swing that was way too big for his size or hitting ability. But without dramatically retooling his swing, Hernandez started making more consistent contact this year, earned a spot in the big leagues and now looks like a potential useful utility infielder. He can play almost anywhere on the field, including shortstop thanks to an average and accurate arm.
|Corpus Christi (TL)||AA||.325||10||40||9||13||3||0||1||5||3||3||0||.372||.475|
|Oklahoma City (PCL)||AAA||.337||67||264||41||89||17||2||8||31||18||25||6||.380||.508|
Jarred Cosart, rhp
Much like Marisnick, the scouting report on Cosart has stayed pretty consistent for years. He has excellent stuff, but he’s always battling his control. Cosart posted an outstanding 1.95 ERA last year, but that was somewhat flukish as he actually walked more batters than he struck out. Despite a 94 mph fastball, Cosart generates more ground balls than strikeouts. A 38th-round pick of the Phillies in 2008 who signed for $550,000, Cosart was one of four eventual big leaguers the Astros received in the Hunter Pence trade. He won’t be arbitration eligible until 2017, and he won’t hit free agency until 2020, so the Marlins are acquiring a cost-controlled starting pitcher who steps right into their starting rotation.