By Matt Meyers
December 7, 2005
In what amounts to a challenge trade of two former top prospects who haven't lived up to their promise, the Devil Rays sent righthander Dewon Brazleton to the Padres for third baseman Sean Burroughs.
Brazelton was the Devil Rays' Opening Day starter in 2005 but has not come close to reaching the potential that made him the third overall pick in the 2001 draft out of Middle Tennessee. The 6-foot-4 righthander went 1-8, 7.61 in 71 innings with 43 strikeouts and 60 walks in 2005. In his big league career, he is 8-23, 5.98 with 136 strikeouts and 142 walks in 253 innings.
Burroughs, the son of 1974 American League MVP Jeff Burroughs, has an even more distinguished pedigree than Brazeleton, having been on the map since helping Long Beach win a Little League World Series title in 1993. The ninth overall pick by the Padres out of high school in 1998, he vaulted through the low minors and was seen as the third baseman of the future after hitting .322/.386/.467 for Triple-A Portland in 2001. But his numbers have never matched up to his potential in the big leagues.
The 25-year-old Brazelton boasts a plus changeup with a late fade that is his best pitch. His fastball, which touched 96 mph when he was an amateur, now sits in the low 90s and is at best a tick above-average. Brazelton also throws a slider, but it is fringy, and his failure to develop the third pitch has been a big reason why he has been unable to become an elite pitcher.
Another factor hindering Brazelton's future is a lack of endurance. Having had knee problems in the past, his workout regimen between starts is limited and makes it more difficult for him to fight off fatigue and last through longer starts.
When Brazelton was sent down to Triple-A Durham May 11 after a particularly bad outing, he failed to immediately report and did not notify the team of his whereabouts. The Devil Rays placed him on the restricted list. Brazelton was reinstated June 3 and made an outing for Double-A Montgomery before returning to Durham. He had limited success with the Bulls, going 2-2, 3.72, and his disappearance in May added to the list of doubts about his future.
Tampa Bay media reported all season that a battle over visitation rights with his young son had also bothered Brazelton. Brazelton told the St. Petersburg Times those issues have been resolved.
Burroughs, a career .282 hitter in the big leagues, has always hit for a decent average, but has never been able to consistently drive the ball. Part of that can be attributed to knee problems, as he tore his lateral meniscus in late 2004, but he had never slugged above .402 before 2004 and was slugging .365 at the time of his injury.
Burroughs again opened the season as the Padres' third baseman in 2005, but his numbers fell off to .250/.318/.299 and he was replaced by Joe Randa. The Padres sent him back to Portland to try to get his stroke back, and he batted .290/.362/.427 there in 124 at-bats.
The Devil Rays don't have a long-term solution at third base–though they are pursuing Braves third-base prospect Andy Marte in trade talks–so Burroughs should get a shot to be their everyday third baseman, or at least the lefthanded part of a platoon.
The Padres made a similar trade in February when they sent infielder Jake Gautreau, a first-round pick in 2001, to Cleveland for third baseman Corey Smith, a first-round pick in 2000.