Astros-Dodgers Swap Minor League Arms

The Deal
The Astros and Dodgers swapped minor league pitchers in a trade that sent righthander John Ely to Houston and lefty Rob Rasmussen to Los Angeles.

Ely comes off a decorated 2012 season, in which he won the Triple-A Pacific Coast League’s pitching triple crown and earned pitcher of the year honors from both the PCL and the Dodgers organization. His success in Triple-A didn’t get him much big league time though, and with the Dodgers adding Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu in the offseason, Ely’s prospects for seeing meaningful time in the Dodgers’ rotation in 2013 were dim. Instead, the Dodgers were able to parlay his success into a potentially useful arm in Rasmussen, while Ely gives the Astros another low-cost option for their big league rotation. Ely will go on Houston’s 40-man roster but does have one minor league option remaining.

Dodgers Acquire
Rob Rasmussen, lhp

Age: 23. Born: Apr 2, 1989 in Pasadena, Calif.

Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 160.

Bats: R. Throws: L.

School: UCLA.

Career Transactions: Selected by Marlins in second round of 2010 draft; signed July 7, 2010 … Traded by Marlins with 3B Matt Dominguez to Astros for 1B Carlos Lee and cash, July 5, 2012.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Jupiter (FSL) HiA 4 7 3.90 16 16 0 88 83 52 38 6 36 75 1.36
Corpus Christi (TL) AA 4 4 4.80 11 10 0 54 58 30 29 6 18 44 1.40

Rasmussen is on the move for the second time in less than six months, after the Astros acquired him in July for Carlos Lee. The Dodgers have bid for his services before, drafting him in the 27th round out of high school in 2007, but he didn’t sign and headed to UCLA. The small-bodied Rasmussen has topped 140 innings in each of his pro seasons and shows the ability to get swings and misses with two breaking balls. He throws both a curveball and slider, and his feel for spin has been his calling card since high school. Rasmussen has added polish as a pro, pitching on the edges with his fastball and changeup. He sits average with his heater at 89-92 mph, though it tends to come in flat. His pitchability allows him to pitch backwards, but Rasmussen tends to nibble and gets in trouble with walks. Scouts are split on whether he should remain a surprisingly durable, back-end starter or slide to the bullpen, where being lefthanded and throwing two breaking balls would make him an asset. —John Manuel

Astros Acquire
John Ely, rhp

Age: 26. Born: May 13, 1986 in Oxford, Ohio.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200.

Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: Miami (Ohio).

Career Transactions: Selected by White Sox in third round of 2007 draft; signed June 25, 2007 … Traded by White Sox with RHP Jon Link to Dodgers, Dec. 18, 2009, completing deal in which Dodgers traded OF Juan Pierre to White Sox for two players to be named (Dec. 15, 2009).


Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Albuquerque (PCL) AAA 14 7 3.20 27 27 0 169 150 68 60 18 36 165 1.10
Los Angeles (NL) MAJ 0 2 20.25 2 0 0 3 6 6 6 0 4 3 3.75

Ely went 14-7, 3.20 in 27 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque, notching 165 strikeouts in 169 innings and winning the Pacific Coast League triple crown. He was just the third pitcher in PCL history to pull off the feat, doing so in the most hostile pitching environment in a league full of them. For frame of reference: Games played at Isotopes Park in 2012 featured 54 percent more runs per game—and 63 percent more home runs—than games played by Albuquerque on the road. Ely credits his success in Triple-A to repeating his delivery and altering his repertoire better than he had in the past. His changeup remains his go-to pitch, though the addition of a cutter has helped.


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