Giants Key In On Keppinger In Trade With Astros

The Deal
The Giants lengthened their lineup, while taking out an insurance policy at the keystone, by trading a pair of Double-A righthanders to the Astros for second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who also plays shortstop and third base. Houston acquired 25-year-old Henry Sosa, who entered the year as a member of San Francisco’s 40-man roster, and 22-year-old Jason Stoffel, who served as closer for Double-A Richmond.

Now, San Francisco is covered in the event that starting second baseman Freddy Sanchez requires season-ending surgery on his right shoulder. He also offers more offensive potential at shortstop than the Giants currently possess in Brandon Crawford or Miguel Tejada and more defensive value at third than starter Pablo Sandoval. Keppinger has gone 16-for-38 (.421) versus lefthanders this season and has hit a robust .337/.386/.498 against them in 604 career plate appearances. Though he has below-average power, Keppinger brings value with his defensive versatility and his contact/situational hitting approach.

Astros Acquire
Henry Sosa, rhp

Age: 25.

Born: July 28, 1985 in El Seibo, Dominican Republic.

Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Giants, April 23, 2004.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Fresno (PCL) AAA 3 1 10.41 17 0 0 23.1 39 30 27 3 17 21 2.40
Richmond (EL) AA 5 2 2.68 8 6 0 40.1 41 13 12 1 8 36 1.22
Total 8 3 5.51 25 6 0 63.2 80 43 39 4 25 57 1.65

The Giants’ reputation for developing power arms extends to both players the Astros picked up in the Keppinger deal. Sosa once ranked as the Giants’ No. 5 prospect after
his breakout 2007 campaign, when he struck out 139 in 125 innings between two Class A levels and earned a spot in the Futures Game. Sosa struggled in 2008 after arthroscopic knee surgery in October 2007, and a
back injury sidelined him for half of 2009. Moved to relief in 2010 at Triple-A Fresno, he bombed in the Grizzlies bullpen in 2011, posting a 10.41 ERA in 23 innings to earn a demotion to Double-A and a removal from the 40-man roster. Still, Sosa has power stuff, flashing a fastball
up to 97 mph at times. He’s lowered his arm slot from earlier in his career, and his heater has more sink than it did previously. His slider is his main secondary weapon and lacks consistency, and his changeup tends to be too firm. He’ll have to throw more strikes with his fastball
to be even a relief option, but scouts don’t deny the 25-year-old’s live arm.
Jason Stoffel, rhp

Age: 22.

Born: Sept. 15, 1988 in Agoura Hills, Calif.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 225. Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: Arizona.

Career Transactions: Selected by Giants in fourth round of 2009 draft; signed July 1, 2009.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Richmond (EL) AA 1 2 3.98 32 0 13 31.2 34 16 14 1 16 31 1.58

Stoffel ranked No. 22 on the Giants Top 30 Prospects list entering the season, seven spots ahead of Sosa. Long-time BA readers may recall Stoffel as a star at Agoura (Calif.) High, where he teamed with Robert Stock in 2006 and was coached by ex-big leaguer Mike Magnante. He entered his senior prep season at No. 19 on BA’s Top 100 High School Prospects list, but scouts said his body went south that spring, and his signature curveball regressed. He wound up going undrafted and attended Arizona, going 11-3, 3.28 in three seasons with 29 saves as well as 189 strikeouts in 146 innings.

The Giants drafted him in the fourth round in 2009 and he was Sosa’s teammate at Double-A Richmond this year. He’s made all 101 of his pro appearances out of the bullpen. Thick-bodied at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Stoffel has a lot of effort in his delivery and has never quite regained the curveball he flashed in high school. Instead, he pitches off a low-90s sinking fastball and a low-80s slider. Both pitches are average to slightly above-average, and his cross-body delivery lends him some deception while costing him command. Stoffel has some feel for pitching, can get groundballs and strikeouts and profiles as a middle reliever.

Giants Acquire
Jeff Keppinger, 2b

Age: 31. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $760,000 remains ($2.3 million salary for 2011; under club control for 2012).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Houston (NL) 2011 .307 43 163 22 50 9 0 4 20 4 7 0 .320 .436
3-Year Totals .282 286 978 119 276 56 4 17 108 82 75 4 .338 .400

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