Rockies Fortify Bullpen, Trade With Blue Jays For Seung-Hwan Oh
It was no secret the Rockies needed to shore up their bullpen to make a playoff run.
On Thursday morning, they made their first move aimed at doing that. The Rockies acquired veteran reliever Seung-Hwan Oh from the Blue Jays in exchange for minor leaguers Forrest Wall and Chad Spanberger, as well as a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Oh, with his 2.68 ERA, provides a boon to a Rockies relief corps that entered the day with a 5.26 ERA, worst in the National League. With Colorado only 1.5 games out of a wild card berth, even a moderate bullpen upgrade greatly enhances their chances of getting in to the postseason.
AUG. 14 UPDATE: The Blue Jays have acquired minor league reliever Bryan Baker as the player to be named later to complete the deal.
BLUE JAYS ACQUIRE:
Forrest Wall, OF
Drafted 35th overall in 2014 because of a supposedly advanced feel to hit, Wall has largely disappointed in his pro career and been considered a non-prospect by opposing evaluators as far back as 2016. His one plus tool is his speed, but that’s not enough to overcome his shortcomings. His poor arm and hard hands necessitated a move from second base to center field, where he lacks instincts, and at the plate he controls the strike zone decently well but lacks impact. After missing most of 2017 after separating his shoulder diving for a ball in the outfield, he finally began to hit in his third try in high Class A this season, but immediately struggled upon his move to Double-A, where he hit .206/.289/.359 in 46 games. Wall’s profile intrigues as a 22-year-old lefthanded hitter with some defensive versatility and plus speed, but as a player scouts largely regard him as organizational depth.
Chad Spanberger, 1B
It’s all about power with Spanberger. The hulking 6-foot-3, 235-pound lefthanded hitting first baseman hit 20 home runs his junior season at Arkansas, hit 19 more at Rookie-level Grand Junction after the Rockies made him a sixth-round pick last year, and hit 22 homers in 92 games this season at low Class A Asheville. The Rockies surprisingly left him in low Class A this long given his pedigree as an SEC power hitter, allowing him to put up huge numbers (.315/.363/.579) pre-trade. Spanberger undoubtedly took advantage of Asheville’s cozy McCormick Field, but he boasts real 70-grade raw power that will play anywhere. He’s also a sneaky good athlete who gets down the line and runs the bases well, giving evaluators the belief that he may be able to play some left field and increase his versatility. If he can do that, Spanberger is seen as a potential power bat off the bench as a major leaguer.
An 11th-round pick out of North Florida in 2016, Baker switched from starting to relieving last year and has progressively added velocity pitching out of the bullpen. He began this season sitting 93-95 mph in relief at high Class A Lancaster, jumped to 97-99 mph as the summer went on, and in his last outing touched 100 and 101 mph. Baker blows hitters away but is still learning to control his newfound power. He has a strikeout rate of 11.6 per nine innings but has also walked 6.8 per nine. Baker also throws a slider, changeup and cutter, but it's his fastball that is his bread-and-butter and what will take him up the system.
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Seung-Hwan Oh, RHP
Oh racked up 39 saves in two seasons with the Cardinals after coming over from Japan’s NPB. The Korean righty signed with Toronto last offseason and flourished with the Blue Jays in a setup role this year, going 4-3, 2.68 with 55 strikeouts and 10 walks in 47 innings. Affectionately nicknamed “Final Boss” in Asia because defeating him was like beating the final and most difficult opponent in a video game, Oh uses his rising 92-94 mph fastball to get swings and misses and his mid-80s slider to get ground balls. He will immediately slide into a setup role for Wade Davis with the Rockies, and they can choose to keep him for 2019 too, with a $2.5 million team option.