A large number of prospects changed hands this past off-season as teams jumped at the opportunities to acquire some promising young stars. Some of those prospects have a good chance to one day make their former teams regret sending them packing. Let’s have a look at a few of them:
1. Jose Campos, RHP: Sophomore right-hander Michael Pineda was the key target in the swap with Seattle that sent rookie catcher Jesus Montero west but Campos, 19 years old and ready for low-A ball, could really swing this trade in New York’s favor if he develops as hoped. The prospect is still a long way away from reaching his potential but he has the stuff to develop into a No. 1 or 2 starter. He’s definitely not the type of arm you usually get as a throw-in to a deal and the Yankees organization has a strong history of player development. Montero is the type of player that you don’t mind giving up a lot of value for (assuming he also reaches his potential) but the loss of two top starters could really end up stinging (even more than the likes of Jose Cruz Jr., Chris Tillman/Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow).
2. A.J. Cole, RHP: Cole was acquired by Oakland in the deal with Washington that saw young, possibly underrated, hurler Gio Gonzalez traded to his fourth organization. The four-prospect package received by Oakland contained some better known players but not necessarily more talented or valuable than Cole. He has the ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter but will likely need another two to three seasons in the minors before reaching the Majors. The acquisition of Gonzalez certainly strengthens the Nationals’ starting rotation – especially after the club also signed Edwin Jackson to go along with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann – but it further weakens the organization’s minor league depth. It also hurts the club’s chances at supplementing the starting rotation with cheap, high-ceiling talent in the next three to four years.
3. Yasmani Grandal, C: When you have to make a trade your hope is to do it from an area of strength/depth, which is exactly what Cincinnati did when it acquired young stud pitcher Mat Latos from San Diego. Cincinnati’s front office clearly felt comfortable including Grandal in the deal because they already had rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco who was further along in his development. I personally see Grandal developing into a better hitter than Mesoraco but the latter catching prospect is the better all-around player when you also consider defense and leadership. With that said, Cincinnati definitely offers a better home hitting environment than San Diego. It will be interesting to watch how this move plays out in the coming years.
4. Jarrod Parker, RHP: Looking to upgrade their starting rotation, the Diamondbacks may have actually downgraded. Parker was sent to Oakland, along with reliever Ryan Cook and outfielder Collin Cowgill, in exchange for three-year big-leaguer Trevor Cahill. I can understand why the Arizona front office sees this as a worthwhile gamble because Arizona has the likes of Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Archie Bradley on the way and young pitchers capable of throwing 200+ innings do not grow on trees. However, I will hazard a bet that Parker will be the more valuable player by 2013 or ‘14. And he’s probably going to be better in ’12 than Josh Collmenter and possibly Joe Saunders. If he can sharpen his command he has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter
5. Miles Head, 1B/3B: Head doesn’t really fit with the four players above; he’s definitely a “sleeper prospect” rather than a proven Top 100 prospect. The infielder is a bat-only player who has been transitioned from the hot corner to first base, which will put more pressure on his offensive output. However, he shows the ability to hit for power and to produce good on-base rates. With a little trimming to his strikeout rate Head could also produce a respectable batting average. Based on his wRC+ of 174 at the age-appropriate level of low-A ball in 2011 you might start hearing more about this prospect in ‘12 and I definitely prefer him over any of Boston’s current first base prospects, including Lars Anderson.