|Fresh of the acquisition of Mat Latos, the Reds continued their pursuit of top-flight arms on the trade market by sending 24-year-old lefty Travis Wood, one of Cincinnati's top pitching prospects just two years ago, and two other players to the Cubs for power lefty reliever Sean Marshall and the one year remaining on his contract. Chicago also received a pair of 5-foot-9 sparkplugs in the form of outfielder Dave Sappelt, who made his big league debut in August, and low Class A second baseman Ronald Torreyes.
Working strictly as a reliever the past two seasons, Marshall has proven to be equal measures durable and dominating. He's one of just five full-time relievers in that time to accumulate at least 150 innings—Matt Belisle, Tyler Clippard, Carlos Marmol and Jonny Venters are the others—and he's done so while notching an exemplary 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and allowing a mere four home runs. The Cubs attempted to use the 6-foot-7 Marshall as a starter earlier in his career, but he went just 16-26, 4.86 in 59 starts with a 1.8 SO/BB ratio and 1.43 WHIP. He's proven to be much more effective sitting 90-91 mph with a hammer curveball out of the pen than he was sitting 87-88 in the rotation.
|Travis Wood, lhp
Born: Feb. 6, 1987 in Little Rock, Ark.
Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Bats: R. Throws: L.
School: Bryant (Ark.) HS.
Career Transactions: Selected by Reds in second round of 2005 draft; signed June 16, 2005.
Wood won the Double-A Southern League ERA title (1.21) as well as the circuit's pitcher of the year honors in 2009 after adding a cut fastball to his repertoire. Paired with an 88-91 mph fastball and a plus changeup, the cutter gave the slim lefty all the weapons he needed to attack righthanders. Wood earned his first callup to Cincinnati in July 2010 and promptly held the Cubs to two runs over seven innings in his debut and then shut out the Phillies on one hit in his third start. (Actually, he carried a perfect game through eight innings against Philadelphia.) Wood regressed badly in 2011 in both the majors and minors, though he retained velocity levels on all his pitches from 2010, so perhaps a slight mechanical tweak could improve his ability to locate the ball in the strike zone. Wood made 34 starts for the Reds' Triple-A Louisville affiliate from 2009-11, going 11-11, 3.67 with a 1.24 WHIP over 201 innings. He struck out 8.0 and walked 2.6 batters per nine innings in that time, so his performance track record suggests the potential for good things—possibly a regular spot in the rotation if he recaptures his 2010 form.
|Dave Sappelt, cf/lf
Age: 24. Position: CF (63 G), LF (44 G).
Born: Jan. 2, 1987 in Buffalo.
Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 195. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Coastal Carolina.
Career Transactions: Selected by Reds in ninth round of 2008 draft; signed June 10, 2008.
Sappelt starred at Coastal Carolina for three years and has overcome a tough profile—he's a 5-foot-9 righthanded-hitting outfielder with modest power—to reach the big leagues. He made his debut in 2011, a year after his breakout season in which he won the batting title (.361) as well as MVP honors in the Double-A Southern League. Sappelt rates average-to-above in all tools but power, as the 24-year-old hasn't hit more than 10 home runs in a minor league season. That would be fine if Sappelt were a pure center fielder, but scouts consider him merely average there with decent jumps and routes. He fits better as a fourth outfielder behind probable Cubs starters Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and David DeJesus.
Sappelt kept right on hitting with Triple-A Louisville, batting .316/.374/.464 in 451 plate appearances for the Bats in 2010-11. He has done most of his damage versus lefties in the high minors, hitting a tidy .396 (86-for-217) and slugging .585 (18 doubles, four triples, five homers) versus southpaws with Carolina and Louisville.
|Ronald Torreyes, 2b
Age: 19. Position: 2B (67 G), 3B (1 G), SS (1 G).
Born: Sept. 2, 1992 in Barinas, Venezuela.
Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 140. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Reds, Feb. 23, 2010.
As we noted in the July 15 installment of Prospect Hot Sheet, Venezuela's chief export to the U.S. these days would seem to be diminutive second basemen who can spray the ball all over the field and defend the position with aplomb. Jose Altuve of the Astros, Alexi Amarista of the Angels and Torreyes, now of the Cubs, all fit that mold. As to Torreyes, he profiles as a bat control-oriented hitter who could fit at the top of the order while providing ample defensive value. He started 2011 in extended spring training but hit the ground running upon a promotion to Dayton in the second half, teaming with Billy Hamilton to form a dynamic middle infield.
|Sean Marshall, lhp
Age: 29. Remaining Commitment: 1 year, $3.1 million.
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.