I continue to be underwhelmed by the quality of the prospects changing teams in July trades, as I mentioned in last week's Ask BA. New Brewers shortstop Jean Segura (more on him below) has been the top talent on the move to this point, followed by new Marlins righthander Jacob Turner, whose stock is dropping. After them, there's not a single prospect who jumps out as a first-division regular or mid-rotation starter.
The deadline for deals without waivers is tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET. As always, tune in to Trade Central, where Matt Eddy will break down all of the prospects involved.
When the Brewers acquired Greinke in December 2010, they also received Yuniesky Betancourt and sent three big leaguers (Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress) and righthanded pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi to the Royals. On Friday, Milwaukee shipped Greinke to the Angels for three Double-A players: shortstop Jean Segura and righthanders Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena.
The Brewers gave up more than they got for Greinke, but they should have no qualms about that because Greinke helped them get to the National League Championship Series in 2011. Escobar is a quality defender who has made strides with the bat this year, giving Kansas City a quality regular at shortstop. Cain and Jeffress have yet to claim much playing time in the majors, but Odorizzi is one of the better pitching prospects in the minor leagues and could be the best starter in the Royals rotation in the near future.
While Segura may be the best prospect dealt this July, he doesn't have Escobar's defensive value and may not stick at shortstop in the long run. Odorizzi is superior to Hellweg (who likely will wind up as a late-inning reliever) and Pena.
Neither Greinke package comes close to approaching what the Rangers got when they sent Teixeira to the Braves in July 2007: three all-stars in Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison and a power-hitting catcher in Jarrod Saltamacchia (plus Beau Jones, who never made it to the majors). That remains the gold standard of prospect hauls from recent deadline deals.
None of the three teams that has traded Lee in the last three years got much value for him, so both of the Greinke packages are more impressive by comparison. The Indians gave Lee and Ben Francisco to the Phillies in July 2009 for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Jason Knapp and Lou Marson. Five months later, Philadelphia handed Lee to the Mariners for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez. And seven months after that, Seattle dispatched Lee and Mark Lowe to the Rangers for Blake Beavan, Matt Lawson, Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak.
Not only did the Brewers win a division title and National League Division Series in 2011, but they also made some progress with a farm system we ranked as baseball's worst entering that season. A number of Milwaukee prospects took steps forward, and the club added a pair of promising pitchers in first-round picks Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley.
This year, the Brewers have regressed in the majors as well as the minors. A number of their best prospects have gone backward, Jungmann and Bradley in particular. Even after having three selections before the second round of the 2012 draft and turning Greinke into three prospects, Milwaukee still has a farm system that ranks in the bottom third. Here's how I'd stack up their 10 best prospects:
Jean Segura, ss
Should provide plus offense, average defense for shortstop.
Tyler Thornburg, rhp
Big league struggles aside, has upside as potential No. 3 starter.
Wily Peralta, rhp
Hasn't been able to harness his explosive stuff this summer.
Jimmy Nelson, rhp
Has promising sinker/slider combo but hit speed bump in Double-A.
Ariel Pena, rhp
Better chance to start than Hellweg because he has superior command.
Johnny Hellweg, rhp
Though he's huge and throws hard, still has a lot to learn on the mound.
Scooter Gennett, 2b
Solid bat with some gap power, average speed and defense, good instincts.
Taylor Jungmann, rhp
The 12th overall pick in 2011 has shown average stuff and command in pro debut.
Jed Bradley, lhp
Taken three choices after Jungmann, has battled mechanics and struggled even worse.
Clint Coulter, c
The No. 28 overall selection in June has power, needs work behind the plate.
Decker caught a lot of people's attention by hitting .343/.513/.521 in his 2008 pro debut after the Padres drafted him 42nd overall, then batting .299/.442/.514 in his first full pro season. He hasn't put up the same numbers since, with his batting average and OPS declining each year, down to .184/.365/.293 at age 22 this season in Double-A. He injured his foot at the end of May, sidelining him for six weeks before he made a rehab appearance in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
While Decker draws a ton of walks, he may be too patient at the plate. He lets too many hittable pitches go by and strikes out too much. Right now he projects as a below-average hitter with average power, and that's not a profile that's going to garner much playing time on an outfield corner in the big leagues. While he's a better defender and runner than he gets credit for, his bat still will have to carry him. He'll need at least another full season in the minor leagues.