We're coming down the homestretch with the 2013 Prospect Handbook, working more feverishly than Santa's elves. (And speaking of Santa, can you think of a better holiday gift for the baseball fan in your life?)
We'll ship the Handbook to the printer a week before Christmas, which means you can have it your hands in mid-January if you order directly from Baseball America. You'll also get a bonus supplement with 30 extra prospects if you buy from us.
In case you're wondering, the transaction deadline for the Handbook was yesterday. So the James Shields/Wil Myers trade will be reflected in our Rays and Royals chapters. For more on that deal . . .
Myers becomes the first Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year traded before reaching the majors with his original organization. He's one of the very best prospects in baseball—I'd put him third among position players behind Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar and Cardinals outfielder Oscar Tavares—and the most valuable long-term piece in the trade. As a result, the Royals have been hammered in the blogosphere for making the deal.
Would I have agreed to the trade if I were running the Royals? No, I wouldn't have. I think you win with stars and superstars, and Myers has the best chance of any of the six guys involved to play at that level. There's a whiff of desperation to this deal for Kansas City, which hasn't been able to develop pitching on its own and, not coincidentally, hasn't been able to return to contention.
But I don't think it's a terrible deal. It essentially boils down to Myers for James Shields, because Odorizzi has the same résumé that Wade Davis had at the same age, Montgomery hasn't been right since straining his forearm in April 2010 and Leonard is a lottery ticket who has yet to play above Rookie ball.
If Shields and Davis help rejuvenate the Royals rotation and the team can advance to the postseason for the first time since 1985, the deal will have been worth it from Kansas City's perspective. If not, it will regret trading Myers before his big league career ever started.
As for the new Rays farmhands, Myers obviously will be Tampa Bay's No. 1 prospect. We're still finalizing the adjustments for the Prospect Handbook, but I see Odorizzi slotting at No. 5 between shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and righthander Alex Colome, Montgomery fitting in the mid-teens and Leonard appearing in the bottom third of the Top 30. Those four players have boosted the Rays system from the middle of the pack to the upper quartile.
When the Handbook comes out, Meyer will rank No. 4 (between outfielder Oswaldo Arcia and righthander Kyle Gibson) and May will be No. 9 (between second baseman/outfielder Eddie Rosario and outfielder Max Kepler) on our Twins Top 30. Much like Kansas City, Minnesota has had difficulty developing pitching and had to trade to find some much-needed arms. The Twins have plenty of outfield depth, so parting with Ben Revere and Denard Span to add Meyer, May and Vance Worley made a lot of sense.
Meyer is a potential frontline starter who has made tremendous strides as a pitcher during the last two years, but May's lack of command could point him toward the bullpen. Their additions may enable Minnesota's system to sneak into the top 10 in our organization rankings, up from the 11-15 range before the deals.
Because the timing of the trades left our reports on Meyer and May in limbo, I'll present them here:
Alex Meyer, rhp
Born: Jan. 3, 1990. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-9. Wt.: 220. Drafted: Kentucky, 2011 (1st round). Signed by: Reed Dunn (Nationals).
In his first professional season, Meyer showed the talent that had prompted the Red Sox to offer him $2 million out of high school and the Nationals to sign him for the same amount three years later after drafting him 23rd overall in 2011. He made his pro debut in 2012, ranking second among Washington farmhands in ERA (2.86) and strikeouts (139) while pitching at two Class A stops and earning a trip to the Futures Game. The Nationals had been looking for a center fielder and the Twins desperately needed pitching, so they swapped Meyer for Denard Span in November. Like many tall pitchers, Meyer struggled to repeat his mechanics consistently in college, but he did a good job staying tall and creating more downward angle last season, improving his fastball command. He also learned to trust his electric stuff and to avoid overthrowing. Meyer's best pitch is a 95-97 mph four-seam fastball that bumps 99 mph, and he mixes in a 92-95 mph two-seamer with good armside run and sink at times. He throws an 84-87 mph power slider with a knuckle-curve grip, getting good depth and late, hard finish. His slider has a chance to be a plus-plus pitch, though it still flattens out occasionally. His straight changeup needs more consistency, but it has good sinking action and a chance to become an above-average offering. Meyer has solid control, but it remains to be seen if he'll develop the command to be a frontline starter. His size, stuff and improvement make him a key piece for the pitching-poor Twins, who will send him to Double-A.
Trevor May, rhp
Born: Sept. 23, 1989. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HS—Kelso, Wash., 2008 (4th round). Signed by: Dave Ryles (Phillies).
May's development path has been anything but linear since signing for $375,000 as a fourth-round pick in 2008, when he ranked as the top prep prospect in Washington. He repeated both the low Class A and high Class A levels before ranking as the Phillies' No. 1 prospect after the 2011 season, then struggled with his consistency in Double-A last year. In need of a center fielder, Philadelphia packaged him and Vance Worley to get Ben Revere from the Twins in December. May has swing-and-miss stuff but runs into trouble because he doesn't work down in the strike zone with his fastball or throw his secondary stuff for quality strikes. He works with a 90-94 mph fastball that features two-seam run at its lower velocities. His 76-78 mph downer curveball had been his best secondary pitch, but last year it blended together with his 82-85 mph slider. He also throws an 81-84 mph changeup that can become an average offering. May won't reach his upside of a No. 2 or 3 starter if he can't improve his below-average control and command. More advanced hitters won't chase his high fastballs as much as lower-level batters did. His inconsistency leads his detractors to suggest he'll be no more than a late-inning reliever. May will repeat Double-A to start 2013, with Minnesota hoping he can provide some rotation help in the near future.
Two players were traded immediately after the 2012 major league Rule 5 draft, with the Tigers acquiring former Nationals second baseman Jeff Kobernus from the Red Sox and former Rays lefthander Kyle Lobstein from the Mets. In all such cases, the team that deals for the Rule 5 pick assumes the responsibilities that come with the selection.
In other words, Detroit can't send Kobernus or Lobstein to the minors without exposing them to waivers and then offering them back to their original clubs. The one way to skirt the regulations is to take a player who also was selected in a previous major league Rule 5 draft and then outright him off the 40-man roster, which makes him a free agent with no strings attached.