Cubs Acquire Prospect Bryce Ball From Braves In Joc Pederson Deal
As the two teams get ready to return to action after the all-star break, the Cubs and Braves swung a trade that somewhat indicates where the two see themselves two weeks before the deadline. The Cubs, sitting at 44-46 and eight games out in the NL Central, traded away outfielder Joc Pederson. The Braves (44-45) are only 4.5 games out in the NL East. Even after losing their best player (Ronald Acuna Jr.) for the season, Atlanta is trying to shore up weaknesses in an attempt to stay competitive.
Joc Pederson, OF
With Ronald Acuña Jr. lost for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, the Braves needed outfield help. Pederson is no Acuña, but he does have a lengthy track record of being a low-average hitter with power. Pederson has traditionally been much better against righthanders than lefties, but he has mitigated some of those differences this year, hitting for a higher average and little power against lefties (.271/.348/.339) and more power but a lower batting average against righthanders (.218/.285/.442). A center fielder early in his career, Pederson is now a below-average left fielder. He’s an average runner, but at this point, he’s able to make the routine play and little else in the outfield. Pederson is under contract for 2022, but it is a $10 mutual option with a $2.5 million buyout.
Bryce Ball, 1B
In return for Pederson, the Cubs have landed a first base prospect with power potential but also some significant concerns. Ball had an excellent debut season in 2019. He hit .329/.395/.628 between Rookie-level Danville and Low-A Rome. The 24th-round pick out of Dallas Baptist showed plus-plus raw power and an ability to turn that into productive power. Ball, who ranked 18th on the Braves Top 30 coming into this season, was part of the Braves’ alternate training site group in 2020. His jump to High-A Rome in 2021 has not gone nearly as well. He has hit .206/.350/.394 in the first half of the season with just six home runs. Ball knows how to take a walk, but his long levers make him susceptible to strikeouts. Defensively, he’s worked hard to improve at first base, but scouts generally see him as at best a below-average defender. Ball is already 23 years old and has yet to show that he has mastered High-A.