Blue Jays Snag A Starter, Acquire Jose Berrios From Twins For Two Top Prospects
The Blue Jays have aggressively sought to upgrade their bullpen throughout the past month.
On Friday, they made the big move to buttress their starting rotation.
The Blue Jays reportedly acquired righthander Jose Berrios from the Twins in exchange for prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes were first to report the trade.
Martin, the fifth overall pick a year ago, is the No. 21 prospect on the BA Top 100 and was set to rank No. 3 in the Blue Jays midseason Top 30 Prospects update. Woods Richardson was set to rank as the Blue Jays No. 8 prospect and is currently pitching for Team USA at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Austin Martin, SS/OF
Martin was considered a possibility for the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft but instead fell to No. 5. He jumped immediately to Double-A New Hampshire to start his pro career this season and hit .281/.424/.383 with two home runs and 16 RBIs in 55 games while splitting his time almost evenly between shortstop (27 games and center field (26 games). Martin has a very good approach at the plate. He works counts, doesn’t expand the strike zone and has solid bat speed through the zone. More pure hitter than masher, Martin doesn’t make much impact when he connects and projects for average power at best. He is a divisive player among scouts: some see a good athlete who controls the strike zone and has handled an aggressive jump fairly well, while others see a light hitter who will have to add significant defensive value to be an above-average everyday player. Martin was drafted as a shortstop, but his actions and below-average, erratic arm don’t fit at the position. He has a good first step and instincts in center field and has shown the ability to pick up the position quickly. His arm strength and lack of accuracy precludes him from playing the left side of the diamond or right field, so he’ll have to find a way to stick in center field or bounce around between center, left and second base.
Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
Originally acquired from the Mets in the Marcus Stroman trade, Woods Richardson began the season as a Top 100 prospect but struggled to a 2-4, 5.76 mark at Double-A New Hampshire, albeit as one of the youngest pitchers in the league. He has a strong, physical build and a well-rounded three-pitch mix. His fastball ranges from 90-93 mph, his 76-79 mph curveball is a potential plus pitch with great depth and his 79-81 mph changeup flashes average. Woods Richardson has a stiff, mechanical delivery that affects his control and he doesn’t much deception, allowing hitters to see the ball well. Some feel adjustments to his lower half will help him unlock his athleticism and improve his stuff and command. Woods Richardson has the potential to be a back-of-the-rotation starter in the eyes of those most bullish on him, but others are skeptical his stuff will play multiple times through an order against major league hitters and think he’ll end up a 2-3 inning reliever who doesn’t face the same hitter twice.
Baseball America Prospect Report—August 30, 2021
J.J. Cooper checks in on several prospects who continue to rake despite new assignments.
BLUE JAYS ACQUIRE
Jose Berrios, RHP
Berrios’ rough rookie season skews his overall career line, but he’s quietly been one of the most effective starting pitchers in MLB for the last five seasons. He has a 3.76 ERA over the last five years while averaging more than a strikeout per inning and is in the midst the best year of his career in 2021. Berrios has both a four-seam fastball and a sinker that come in at 93-95 mph and his power curveball is a putaway pitch in the low-80s. His changeup ably handles lefthanders and he has the durability to consistently pitch deep into games. He has never been on the injured list in his career and has completed at least six innings in nine of his last 10 starts. Berrios gives the Blue Jays a durable, reliable righthander to pair with lefties Robbie Ray and Hyun-Jin Ryu at the front of their rotation. He has another year of arbitration remaining and won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season.