The Astros, who have fallen out of first place in AL West but still hold a wild-card spot, had been rumored to be in the market for a starter and on Thursday pulled the trigger, sending righthander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham to the A’s lefthander Scott Kazmir, a Houston native.
Kazmir, 31, is 5-5, 2.31 in 18 starts this season and has held opponents to a .213 batting average and .279 on-base percentage. He’s been especially good in his past seven starts, going 3-1, 1.35. He’s a free agent after the season, having signed a $22 million, two-year deal in the 2013 offseason.
Mengden, 22, was drafted by the Astros in the fourth round in 2014 out of Texas A&M, while Nottingham, 20, was a sixth-round pick in 2013 out of high school in Northern California.
Jacob Nottingham, c
Nottingham was a bat-first catcher in an organization known to love catch-and-throw receivers and he’s headed to an organization that has employed similarly talented players such as Stephen Vogt and Derek Norris. A physical righthanded hitter at 6-foot-3, 227 pounds, Nottingham’s raw power has begun to show up this season in Class A ball. Scouts say his defensive ability behind the plate, which has trailed his bat, has improved this season, thanks to the work of organizational catching instructor Mark Bailey, and evaluators now believe there’s a better than average chance he can stick back there. He ranked No. 9 on the Astros’ Midseason Prospect Update, available for subscribers.
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|Daniel Mengden, rhp
The righthander grew up an Astros fan in Houston and says Lance Berkman was his favorite player. A former two-way player, Mengden also caught at A&M his first two seasons at College Station but saw his draft stock fall a bit as a junior thanks to a stress fracture in one of the vertebrae in his back. His fastball has average to tick above velocity at 88-94 and three other offerings that flash average: a changeup that's probably his second-strongest offering, a slider at 82-85 and a curve that can be flat. With a bulldog mentality and solid command, Mengden projects as a No. 4-5 starter whose stuff could play up in a relief role.
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Scott Kazmir, lhp
Kazmir stays in the league and the division, moving to his hometown team for the remainder of the season. The 2002 first-round pick (No. 15 overall) has been involved in deadline deals before, much to the chagrin of Mets and Angels fans. Kazmir had sustained success the past two seasons in Oakland, but now moves to a much-more offense-friendly home stadium in Minute Maid Park, where left field especially plays short. But his groundball rate (45.9 percent) portends well as he adds a pitching staff that includes groundballer Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and rookies Lance McCullers and Vince Velasquez.