Indians Package Top Pitching Prospects In Deal For Ubaldo

The Deal
The Rockies set their sights high when they placed 27-year-old righthander Ubaldo Jimenez on the trade block. Colorado felt justified in making lofty demands because they were offering a durable strikeout pitcher (only nine other big leaguers have more punchouts since 2008) who is under contract for two seasons beyond this one. The Red Sox, Reds and Yankees all reportedly kicked the tires on Jimenez, but only the Indians submitted an offer that Colorado deemed acceptable.

Cleveland agreed to trade to the Rockies three pitchers, including the organization’s first-round picks from 2009 and 2010, as well as two other Double-A prospects. Headlining the deal were lefty Drew Pomeranz (officially a player to be named until Aug. 16, one year after his signing date), righthanders Alex White and Joe Gardner and Matt McBride, an offensive-oriented player who plays mostly first base and right field but who also has dabbled at catcher.

UPDATE: Drew Pomeranz officially joined the Rockies organization on Aug. 16. He last pitched for Double-A Akron on July 25.

Despite going just 12-18 in their past 30 games, the Indians played so well early in the season that they remain in the thick of the American League Central race, two and a half games off the pace set by the Tigers (who earlier in the day acquired starter Doug Fister from the Mariners). But even if Cleveland falls short this season, Jimenez will impact the AL Central race for the next two seasons.

The Indians traded for Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome earlier in the week, and they appeared poised to acquire outfielder Ryan Ludwick from the Padres as the July 31 trade deadline loomed.

Rockies Acquire
Drew Pomeranz, lhp

Age: 22.

Born: Nov. 22, 1988 in Collierville, Tenn.

Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 230. Bats: R. Throws: L.

School: Mississippi.

Career Transactions: Selected by Indians in first round (fifth overall) of 2010 draft; signed Aug. 16, 2010.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Kinston (CAR) HiA 3 2 1.87 15 15 0 77 56 22 16 2 32 95 1.14
Akron (EL) AA 0 1 2.57 3 3 0 14 10 4 4 1 6 17 1.14

The Indians cannot officially trade Pomeranz until Aug. 16, the one-year anniversary of his signing date. A similar situation transpired last summer in the Dan Haren deal involving the Angels and Diamondbacks. Los Angeles agreed to send 2009 first-rounder Tyler Skaggs to Arizona, but he remained in limbo, working out with his low Class A South Bend teammates but not playing in games, until he became property of the D-backs in mid-August. Pomeranz is a pure power lefty who pitches in the low-to-mid 90s with a plus curveball. Just nine minor league pitchers had a higher strikeout rate than his 11 per nine innings at the time of his trade to Colorado. If the changeup develops as expected, Pomeranz, the No. 14 prospect on our midseason list, is a No. 2 or 3 starter in the making.

Alex White, rhp

Age: 22.

Born: Aug. 29, 1988 in Greenville, N.C.

Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: North Carolina.

Career Transactions: Selected by Indians in first round (15th overall) of 2009 draft; signed Aug. 17, 2009.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Columbus (IL) AAA 1 0 1.90 4 4 0 23.2 19 7 5 1 5 28 1.01
Cleveland (AL) MLB 1 0 3.60 3 3 0 15 14 7 6 3 9 13 1.53

White was part of the state of North Carolina’s epic 2006 draft year. The state produced three first-round picks that year in Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard and Matt Antonelli, plus prep arms Ryan Morris, Chris Archer and White.
The state’s top high school bats that season as ranked by BA were Lonnie Chisenhall and Dustin Ackley. White didn’t sign as a Dodgers 14th-rounder, while Ackley wasn’t even drafted. They wound up as teammates at North Carolina, following the departures of Bard and Miller, with White taking one of their rotation spots and going 27-14, 3.87 in three college seasons with 317 strikeouts in 307 innings.

White sprained a ligament in the middle finger of his pitching hand during his May 20 start for Cleveland and has not pitched since. Prior to the setback he had breezed through the International League on his way to the big leagues, completing the journey from college campus to Cleveland in fewer than two years. He threw off a mound on July
22, throwing both of his secondary pitches, a split-finger and slider, to go with his four-seam fastball. White had a superlative slider in high school, but his arm action is longer now than it was then and he’s struggled to regain the pitch. Instead he relies on aggressive use of his two- and four-seamers and his
above-average splitter, which has helped him combat lefthanded hitters. Even in his first three big league starts, lefthanded hitters were just 4-for-20 against him. He still throws his slider with power, and when it’s on he uses it in concert with his heavy
fastball to get a good amount of groundballs. White can sit in the average range with his velocity but bumps 94 mph or higher when needed. His competitiveness and athleticism have long endeared him to scouts as much as his raw stuff.

Matt McBride, 1b/rf/c

Age: 26. Position: 1B (49 G), RF (29 G), C (9 G).

Born: May 23, 1985 in Bethlehem, Pa.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: Lehigh.

Career Transactions: Selected by Indians in supplemental second round of 2006 draft; signed June 14, 2006.

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Akron (EL) AA .297 84 346 50 92 24 4 14 53 30 44 3 .359 .535
Columbus (IL) AAA .156 12 45 3 7 2 0 1 3 2 8 0 .191 .267

McBride may not have a defensive home, but he has hammered lefthanded pitchers at the Double-A level. With Akron this year he batted .361/.442/.556 with thee homers in 72 at-bats; last season he batted .333/.368/.622 with eight of 17 homers in just 135 at-bats. In two pop-ins at Triple-A, however, McBride has run up a meager .645 OPS in 43 games, which is an issue for the sixth-year pro. If his production stabilizes at the Triple-A level—not a bad bet given his likely assignment to Colorado Springs—then he could emerge as a righty power bat off the bench. At worst, he’s a quality organizational player.

Joe Gardner, rhp

Age: 23.

Born: March 18, 1988 in Santa Clara, Calif.

Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 220. Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: UC Santa Barbara.

Career Transactions: Selected by Indians in third round of 2009 draft; signed June 18, 2009.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Akron (EL) AA 7 8 4.99 19 19 0 97.1 108 73 54 6 47 60 1.59

Gardner led all minor league starters in groundout-to-flyout ratio (3.29-to-1) in 2010, and after moving up a level to Double-A this season he ranks just outside the top 30 (1.91-to-1). He throws sinker after sinker at 89-92 mph from a low three-quarters arm slot. Gardner’s low arm angle can make staying on top of his slider and changeup difficult at times, and the development of those pitchers will determine whether he starts or relieves. The low angel also gives lefty batters a good look at the ball, and the Eastern League variety battered Gardner for a .319/.411/.454 batting line in 185 at-bats this season.

Indians Acquire
Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp

Age: 27. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $933,000 ($2.8 million salary for 2011, plus $4.2 million for 2012, then either $5.75 million club option or $1 million buyout for 2013).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Colorado (NL) 2011 6 9 4.20 20 20 0 122 116 64 57 10 47 116 1.34
3-Year Totals 40 29 3.40 86 86 0 561.2 463 224 212 33 224 528 1.22

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