Breaking Down the Prospects in the Justin Upton Trade

The Braves are sending right fielder Justin Upton and a yet-to-be-named-publicly low level prospect to the Padres for for pitcher Max Fried, center fielder Mallex Smith, second baseman Jace Peterson and third baseman Dustin Peterson.  It’s an interesting way for Atlanta to get a very high upside player not usually available in a package for a one-year rental.  As I did with my breakdown of the Wil Myers trade, I’ve ranked the pieces in order of my preference, with a note where there’s a virtual tie.


Video Credit to DiamondScapeBaseball

Max Fried, LHP, Atlanta Braves
Fastball: 50/60, Curveball: 50/60, Changeup: 45/55, Command: 40/50, FV: 50

The 6’4/185 lefty was half of what may have been the best 1-2 punch in high school baseball history, with Nationals top prospect RHP Lucas Giolito at Harvard Westlake High School in 2012.  Unfortunately, Giolito’s senior season ended prematurely by Tommy John surgery and Fried himself also had the surgery performed on him this past August.  Scouts were concerned going into the 2012 draft spring about the unusually high volume of pitches with limited down time on the high school’s pitching program, but these sorts of injuries are always due to a number of factors and some bad luck.  Fried was taken #7 overall in the 2012 draft.

Fried was shut down early in 2014 as a precaution, his subsequent MRI was clean, he went on a long rehab program and when he went back to the mound, his elbow popped a few starts into his return.  He’s due back on the mound sometime around fall instructional league in 2015.  Even in those few starts before his elbow popped in 2014, Fried’s stuff was still pretty close to his peak stuff: 90-93, hitting 96 mph with a plus curveball and improving above average changeup.  His stuff will vary start to start and his changeup flashes 60 for some scouts, but not often and never when at the same time as his curveball.  Fried’s clean mechanics aren’t a concern and he has lots of projection to his frame, so these future grades could be conservative, but Fried’s upside is #2/3 starter.

Fried has lost two years of development with 2014 and 2015 both essentially a wash and he’ll have some considerable mental and feel for pitching type obstacles to overcome.  Fried is a candidate to go to the Arizona Fall League next year if everything checks out by October and the Braves are hoping the roughly 85% success rate on Tommy John surgeries applies to Fried; he’s not on the table for this trade if he’s healthy.


Mallex Smith, CF, Atlanta Braves
Hit: 20/45, Raw Power: 40/40, Game Power: 20/35, Run: 80/80, Field: 50/60, Throw: 45/45, FV: 40

Smith was a 5th rounder in 2012 out of a Florida junior college and he has an easy tool to buy into: 80 speed.  He has instincts to use that speed on the bases, and his 88 regular season stolen bases bear that out.  Smith is a little rougher defensively in center field, but that kind of closing speed means only small improvements are necessary to be above average with the glove.  He has simple swing mechanics but  can have a higher-effort swing with an abrupt finish at times and still needs to adjust his approach to strike out less and put the ball in play on the ground more often.  Smith doesn’t have the handsy looseness at the plate scouts are looking for, but he has some feel for hitting and is a patient, late-count hitter that shows all the attributes of a potential leadoff hitter.  His speed and approach will play up his pure hit grade in game situations; Smith is likely to be at least a reserve outfielder in the big leagues.

Note: Luckily for me with all these recent Padres trades, I was making calls on the Padres system, so I already had notes on handy on all these players.  Smith and Jace Peterson were ranked back-to-back and at the top of the 40 FV group, so flipping the two in rank, or moving one or both up a grade are both reasonable conclusions.


Jace Peterson, 2B, Atlanta Braves
Hit: 30/50, Raw Power: 45/45, Game Power: 30/35, Run: 50/50+, Field: 45/50, Throw: 50/50, FV: 40

Peterson was an under-slot bonus sandwich round pick in the 2011 draft out of McNeese State, but he had limited baseball experience as he also played cornerback on the football team.  He may not even have a 55 tool, but Peterson makes the most out of what he has.  His average or so speed plays up on the bases and in the field; he came up as a shortstop, but fits better at second base and third base, where his defensive tools profile.

Peterson doesn’t have huge bat speed, power or even the prettiest mechanics, but he has a good approach at the plate, works counts in his favor and gears his in-game swing for contact over power, with a good approach versus lefties.  He would have to really outplay his tools to become an everyday player, but Peterson got a cup of coffee in September and is ready to contribute in 2015.  He’s a guy that has consistently played better than his tools, can contribute at multiple premium positions with below average offensive impact but a broad base of skills.


Video Credit to MinorLeagueBaseball

Dustin Peterson, 3B/LF, Atlanta Braves
Hit
: 20/45, Raw Power: 55/55, Game Power: 20/50, Run: 50/50, Field: 40/45+, Throw: 45/45+, FV: 40

Peterson is the younger brother of Mariners top prospect D.J. Peterson; D.J. went 12th overall in the 2013 draft out of New Mexico while Dustin went 50th overall to the Padres out of an Arizona high school in the same draft.  D.J.’s rise likely contributed to scouts moving Dustin up boards as they regretted underrating his older brother three years prior. Dustin played shortstop in high school but scouts debated where he would end up in pro ball, with second base, third base and left field the potential fits.

Peterson played third base this year in Low-A but his defensive home isn’t completely set, as the Padres tried Peterson in left field in instructs. He’s a fringy to average runner with a below average arm, so the defensive value will never be huge but Peterson has above average raw power and bat speed as his carrying tools.  He has an advanced feel for the bat head, so the tools are here for an everyday player, but Peterson will have to hit a lot more, particularly if he ends up moving to left field long-term.  He ranked at the end of my draft of the Padres prospect list.



Print This Post



Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Junior
Guest
Junior
1 year 5 months ago

How did Harang manage to be a 4-war player while being backed by that OF? Impressive. Perhaps Cashner can pull off something similar in 2015? Btw, can you please fix the link? It goes to my dad right now.

Vslyke
Guest
Vslyke
1 year 5 months ago

Wrong article?

Bryz
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Perhaps why he asked for the link to be fixed.

CoolWinnebago
Guest
CoolWinnebago
1 year 5 months ago

Just wondering how Jace has only one tool projected at under 45 but offers future value of 40?

The FV of 40 because of risk?

Joshua_C
Guest
Joshua_C
1 year 5 months ago

I hate this for the Padres, unless they’re planning on flipping assets for more long-term value.

Trading several useful pieces for a one-season rental where, optimistically, you’ll be mediocre doesn’t seem like a great strategy. I thought the Myers trade was a worthwhile gamble, and the Kemp and Norris trades were at least somewhat defensible, but now it seems as though the Padres either completely ignore defense or have a very, very unrealistic view of the gap between them and the Dodgers.

CoolWinnebago
Guest
CoolWinnebago
1 year 5 months ago

Is there really no chance they stick Kemp at 1st so maybin can play CF? If Maybin is anywhere near average with his bat hes a solid play.

Billy
Guest
Billy
1 year 5 months ago

I already was thinking they’d put Smith / Quentin at 1B. No matter how you cut it, there are too many cooks in this kitchen.

ybor
Guest
ybor
1 year 5 months ago

it takes a lot to make a stew

Carl Weathers
Guest
Carl Weathers
1 year 5 months ago

Baby, you’ve got a stew goin’.

fjtorres
Guest
fjtorres
1 year 5 months ago

Wildcards beckon.

Their strategy seems to be to get decent-to-good players and make enough of a run to get some fan interest going.
In that division they don’t need to catch the Dodgers to make a credible run.

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
1 year 5 months ago

But with all the moves they maybe project for 26-27 WAR (Steamer), maybe Zips will be more kind. Upton for 1 year is just silly.

Joshua_C
Guest
Joshua_C
1 year 5 months ago

I mean, I could’ve rephrased that less in terms of the Dodgers and more in terms of the Cards, Pirates, possibly Cubs, and maybe even Marlins and it would make sense. The Padres still don’t look like a very good team.

I’m intrigued by most of San Diego’s moves (and I love the addition of David Ross)–I think they haven’t actually surrendered all that much long-term value in order to improve. But it seems like even if they’re trying to improve rapidly, their horizon is still longer than a year.

Maybe they plan to flip Upton at the deadline if they’re out of it?

fjtorres
Guest
fjtorres
1 year 5 months ago

That isn’t a bad fallback.

Sometimes teams make moves for reasons other than baseball performance. Marketting the team. Selling TV ads. Setting expectations for the fans and/or players.

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
1 year 5 months ago

Thanks for the Mallex write up, he seems to have taken a big step forward in 2014. I have been viewing him as a Rajai Davis type potential and this report isn’t too far off.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 5 months ago

At first I was thinking Jarrod Dyson but yeah Rajai Davis seems like a spot-on comp for Mallex if all goes well.

And that would be one of the best baseball names in recent memory.

Josh Barnes
Member
1 year 5 months ago

I’m higher on Mallex Smith than Kiley is. His pitch recognition and strike zone awareness are way ahead of other 80 speed types like Davis, Dyson, Hamilton. He’s an 80 speedster that has a shot at carrying an OBP in the .330-.340 range. Kid will be 22 in May. I see big upside potential here.

bblackwell
Member
1 year 5 months ago

Quick question about FV. Is it an estimate of the most likely future value for a player – incorporating risk into the equation, or is it their ceiling? Given the grades on these players, I’d have to imagine it’s the former. If that’s the case, while I appreciate the most likely grade, I wouldn’t mind also seeing the ‘if it all comes together’ FV grade for different players.

jardinero
Guest
jardinero
1 year 5 months ago

I recall seeing A.J. give an interview shortly after he was hired, in which he said one misstep with the Rangers was not doing a good enough job evaluating the inherited talent in the farm system (obvious reference to Adrian Gonzalez). I’m guessing/hoping he really knows the prospects he’s dealing.

Roger
Guest
Roger
1 year 5 months ago

On the other hand, one of the Braves’ recently hired assistants came directly from the Padres, so the Braves were getting advice from someone with firsthand knowledge of the farm system.

CrazyPants
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Kiley makes it sound like a better package than I thought. I think that comes mostly from my reaction to the Dustin video however. At this point, how much could be expected of Fried before 2017? Would have figured the Braves to get an arm or 2 closer as the yield for Upton.

Bob
Guest
Bob
1 year 5 months ago

Kiley a potential #2 starter is only a 50 fv? Everything you wrote is plus too.

Bpdelia
Guest
Bpdelia
1 year 5 months ago

He won’t have pitched in two years and the success rate for tjs isn’t %100. 50 is pretty good. That’s a solid major league contributor

He could develop into a number 2 he could lose some stuff coming off two years not throwing and be worthless.

Nearly impossible to rate until we see him get healthy

Trev
Guest
Trev
1 year 5 months ago

Are teams are allowed to trade injured players? Do they need approval from the commissioner’s office to do so?

gnomez
Guest
gnomez
1 year 5 months ago

I think that only applies if they have a major league contract.

Schlom
Guest
Schlom
1 year 5 months ago

I feel sorry for Max Fried – he got the requisite Padres pitching prospect Tommy John surgery but doesn’t even get the potential of pitching half of his home games in Petco Park.

DURANGO
Guest
DURANGO
1 year 5 months ago

So the Braves non-tender Medlen and Beachy, and then the top prospect they get back from the Padres has had tommy john surgery. Am I missing something?

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
1 year 5 months ago

They won’t be paying this guy a major league contract, much less the millions Medlen and Beachy would get, and they get 6+ years of team control after (if) he makes his major league debut. Medlen was a year away from free agency I think, and I think Beachy was either one or two years away as well.

So I think you are missing a lot.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
1 year 5 months ago

In addition to TKDC’s points, probably the most salient point you are missing is that Medlen and Beachy were both coming off their second TJS, while Fried is coming off his first. The recovery rate for a first TJS is much better.

Free_AEC
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Yes, if you’re a Braves fan.

If that’s the case you need to look up where your owner lives. There is a post on my blog about this that is outdated. The new CEO of Liberty Media is Gregory Maffei who a Google search shows was the third highest paid CEO in the USA in an entry for 2013. Gregory Maffei’s take in one year was $391 million. Hey-Zeus Christo, that’s about four years of payroll for the Atlanta Braves. Suddenly I’m interested in doing another update on Braves ownership.

_

Highlight and Google: John Powers Middleton Felony Fraud

_

Sly Stone
Guest
Sly Stone
1 year 5 months ago

You can’t cry ’cause you’ll look broke down
But you’re cryin’ anyway ’cause you are broke down

It’s a prospect affaaaaiiiirrrrr
It’s a prospect affaaaaaairrr
It’s a prospect affaaaaiiiirrrrr
It’s a prospect affaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrr

A dad
Guest
A dad
1 year 5 months ago

How fried do you want your potatoes?

MAX FRIED

That same dad
Guest
That same dad
1 year 5 months ago

Just wait until you meet his brother, Deep.

A different, but possibly related, dad
Guest
A different, but possibly related, dad
1 year 5 months ago

His cousin Pan had a brief MiLB career with the Astros

Not a dad, just an uncle
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

He has an adopted brother, Stir.

Dr Hocker
Member
Dr Hocker
1 year 5 months ago

Once all the analysis is sifted through (and it is excellent by the way)I look back at the principal (Upton) involved in the deal. Aside from having one year left before FA, I’ve always seen him as a problem child. Arizona could not wait to get rid of him at seemingly any cost and Braves GM Hart wasted no time either. Seems like every time I turned around he’d be slamming a helmet and doing his best angry young man imitation. He always seemed inconsistent during the course of a season to boot. It’s no small wonder that a guy who seemed to be well respected (Wren) was fired for siging him and the horrific contract given to his brother. The only move Mr Hart has made that puzzles me a bit is trading Jason Heyward.

bill Harper
Guest
bill Harper
1 year 5 months ago

Wren was fired as much for the god awful and utterly inexcusable Chris Johnson signing as anything.

Jon Williams
Guest
1 year 5 months ago

Didn’t the Diamondbacks supposedly trade him for his lack of passion and grit?

Josh
Guest
Josh
1 year 5 months ago

Forget the return, the only thing that could possibly be worse for Atlanta fans right now is if they were still playing Dan Uggla. Hey, Braves fans that actually care about next season: are you pumped that the team lost Heyward, Medlen, Beachy, and J. Upton, but still has BJ Upton? You’re all going to come to all the games, still, right?

I have no idea if this is a good long-term strategy for the Braves. But for next season, it kind of stinks.

NickB
Guest
NickB
1 year 5 months ago

I had no delusions about competing for 2015. the long term goal is the smart play. trying to half ass compete in 2015 and rebuild would probably accomplish neither. get the prospects, build up the farm, see what you have after the 2016 season and then tweak with free agency/trades for the new stadium.

bill Harper
Guest
bill Harper
1 year 5 months ago

Unfortunately they’re already half ass competing by signing the Greek God of Mediocrity himself at age 31 to a 4-year deal

NickB
Guest
NickB
1 year 5 months ago

yeah, that didn’t jive with everything else. (tho I suspect they thought having a new “local boy” on the team would help attendance i guess?)

Aaron Northcraft
Guest
Aaron Northcraft
1 year 5 months ago

Man, what the hell?

wpDiscuz