Has there ever been a 10-player trade with fewer significant players than the deal the Astros and Blue Jays pulled off on Friday? Toronto got three big league pitching reinforcements in David Carpenter, J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon, but all three are complementary pieces. Happ has the most upside but at the same time is a No. 4 starter on a contender, and he’ll begin his Jays career in the bullpen.
As for Houston, it added more depth than quality to its farm system as it continues its rebuilding process. The Jays gave up big leaguers Francisco Cordero and Ben Francisco, who have no future with the Astros, and five prospects: lefthander David Rollins, righthanders Joe Musgrove and Asher Wojciechowski, catcher Carlos Perez and a player to be named.
Musgrove and Wojciechowski are supplemental first-round picks who haven’t thrown as hard as pros as they did as amateurs, and neither has progressed as quickly as once hoped. Perez is a solid defender who’s repeating low Class A at age 21. Rollins is a sleeper with average stuff but below-average command. Toronto’s deep system won’t miss these guys, and while Houston can use the added inventory, it’s unlikely that any of them will play major roles in eventually leading the Astros back to contention.
- How would you order a current Reds Top 10 Prospects list? Six of the Top 10 from the 2012 Prospect Handbook have either graduated (Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier) or been traded (Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger), and Cincinnati has just finished signing its 2012 draftees.
The Reds Top 10 has undergone so much upheaval that I put four 2012 draftees on our updated version. Seven of the 10 players below are products of the last two drafts. Other players I considered included lefthanders Amir Garrett and Donnie Joseph, righthanders Pedro Diaz and J.C. Sulbaran and second baseman Ryan Wright.
1. Billy Hamilton, ss
May have to move off shortstop but his speed will wreak havoc anywhere.
2. Robert Stephenson, rhp
Has hit upper 90s en route to Pioneer League lead in strikeouts.
3. Tony Cingrani, lhp
Unhittable since moving from bullpen to rotation after signing as 2011 third-rounder.
4. Daniel Corcino, rhp
Continues to draw Johnny Cueto comparisons while having solid Double-A year at age 21.
5. Nick Travieso, rhp
The 14th overall pick in June has a power fastball/slider combination.
6. Didi Gregorius, ss
Overshadowed by Hamilton, he’s athletic and has a better chance to stick at short.
7. Kyle Lotzkar, rhp
Finally healthy, he has reworked his delivery and regained his stuff.
8. Jesse Winker, of
Hit .337/.472/.429 in first 29 games after signing as 2012 sandwich pick.
9. Tanner Rahier, 3b
A second-rounder in June, he has a promising bat and plenty of intensity.
10. Jeff Gelalich, of
Broke out this spring at UCLA, went in sandwich round, has all-around tools.
- It has been a long road back from Tommy John surgery for Athletics righthander Michael Ynoa. I once read this kid possibly had the best Dominican-born arm the game ever has seen. The problem is we haven't seen much of it at all at the pro level. What's your perspective on Ynoa's long-term value? Have you seen or heard anything worth noting to those of us who still maintain hope that this kid can be a frontline starter?
I don’t believe anyone ever put him ahead of fellow Dominicans Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez, but when Ynoa signed for $4.25 million in 2008, his bonus set a (since-broken) record for Latin Americans. He missed all of 2009 while battling elbow tendinitis, then pitched nine innings in 2010 before blowing out his elbow and needing reconstructive surgery, which sidelined him for 2011.
Ynoa has returned this summer in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he has pitched a total of seven innings in five closely monitored starts. He has worked in the low 90s but has battled his command and is a long way from the majors.
Ynoa is still just 20 and he still has projection remaining in his 6-foot-7 frame. Even if he doesn’t add any velocity, he’ll have a plus fastball. But for all his promise, it’s easier to view him as a lottery ticket than it is to forecast him becoming a frontline starter.
He needs to prove he can stay healthy while refining his secondary pitches and his command. At this point it’s just about baby steps, and if he can make it through the final month of the AZL season, that will be a positive start.
- Stefen Romero didn't make the Mariners Top 30 list in the 2012 Prospect Handbook, getting mention only on the depth chart as Seattle's seventh-best third baseman. This year, he has been one of the top hitters in the system and hasn't slowed down since being promoted from high Class A High Desert to Double-A Jackson. Where will he fit on the Mariners Top 30 this offseason?
Romero has had a breakout season in 2012, hitting .361/.413/.629 between two stops and playing full-time at second base after splitting time between second and third base in his pro debut last year. His blossoming recalls that of Vinnie Catricala a year ago, though Catricala isn’t capable of playing the middle infield and has regressed in Triple-A this season.
Signed for $100,000 as a 12th-round pick out of Oregon State in 2010, Romero has played his way into the back half of Seattle’s Top 30 list. He’s not young for Double-A at 23, and he’s kind of a tweener who may not have the quickness to play up the middle or the power to hold down a regular role on the corner. He makes consistent hard contact but isn’t loaded with bat speed. And as Catricala has shown, putting together a quality encore is easier said than done.