Cubs Trey McNutt Would Fill Void With Red Sox

In September, the Boston Red Sox’ lack of pitching prospects at the upper levels was badly exposed, as “prospects” including Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront and Kyle Weiland failed to capitalize on solid minor league numbers. Cue the Red Sox’ interest in Cubs right-handed pitching prospect Trey McNutt as compensation in the Theo Epstein debacle.

McNutt took the hill for Tennessee, the Cubs double-A affiliate in Chattanooga and I just could not miss the opportunity to scout him squaring off against Dodgers pitching prospect Allen Webster. And while McNutt proved to be a quality pitching prospect, the potential he apparently had as a top-50 overall prospect in baseball failed to register. Would I want McNutt in my organization? Absolutely! Is he the type of prospect who profiles as the centerpiece of a deal or impact talent in a big league rotation? Not for me.

Video after the jump

In game action, McNutt projected an intimidating presence on the mound. At a listed 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, his grizzly beard, thick frame and angry scowl certainly looked the part of power pitcher. So much so that it actually hurt McNutt’s value as a prospect for me leaving an impression his mentality may be better suited for short spurts out of a big league bullpen.

This initial first impression was supported by the fact McNutt has a significant amount of effort in his throwing motion which left my partially torn ulnar ligament from college screaming mercy. By no means do I claim to be a mechanics guru, but McNutt landing on a rather stiff front leg forced his arm to supply much of his velocity. In the short term, this may not be much of an issue. However, it does make it difficult to project the 200+ inning per year workhorse McNutt’s physical stature would indicate over any lengthy period of time.

In terms of stuff, McNutt’s fastball was at its best at 92-94 MPH. At the lower registers, the pitch featured late run and a bit of drop — especially when down in the strike zone. During the innings myself and “buddy in baseball” Chris Blessing spent charting, McNutt hit 95 MPH more than a handful of times and even touched 96 on a rare occasion. Unfortunately, increased velocity led to his elevating the fastball, leading to a handful of hard hit balls including a mammoth home run off of a 96 MPH fastball to lead off the game by Dodgers prospect and Future’s Game participant Alfredo Silverio. Throughout the game, he simply threw too many letter-high fastballs middle-in for me to view McNutt’s fastball as anything more than average at this point. Double-A hitters may not have the skill to punish McNutt for mistakes, but big leaguers certainly will.

For lack of a better term, I’ll hang “slurve” on McNutt’s primary breaking ball as it features more velocity than a typical curveball would, but features more downward action than a typical slider. At 83-85 MPH, McNutt did not throw the pitch as often as his changeup, but it flashed as a quality offering at times with tight, 11/3 break. At present, the pitch does not have enough late bite to miss many bats, which is likely responsible for his lack of strikeouts. Additionally, McNutt had a tendency to wrap his wrist behind his ear, snapping the pitch awfully hard at times. It’s something he will need to smooth out.

McNutt utilized an 83-86 MPH changeup more than I was initially expecting. While his velocity separation from the fastball was fine, McNutt had a tendency to stay far too tall in his follow through, altering his mechanics significantly. And with his staying taller through the pitch, command of the offering was limited as McNutt left the changeup in the zone too often.

Having just turned 22, McNutt still has time on his side after an injury-plagued season fighting through blister problems and inconsistency. And while concern over McNutt’s combined numbers at the upper levels are somewhat warranted, it’s important to understand the role of age-versus-level in his development and that arms capable of touching 96 MPH are difficult to find — even if most big league staffs have a number of pitchers capable of registering upper-90s velocity.

Should McNutt find consistency in his mechanics to take pressure off of his arm, a future as a middle-of-the-rotation workhorse is possible. However, I’m left no choice but to view him as a 7th-8th inning reliever at this point based on so much effort in his delivery. In terms of prospect status, I’d be comfortable grouping McNutt with pitchers like Nathan Eovaldi and Wily Peralta in terms of stuff, but their top-end velocity does come a bit easier, allowing them to profile as starters long term.

For the Boston Red Sox, the addition of McNutt would instantly make him the highest ceiling pitching prospect in the upper levels of their minor league system until the 2012 season opens and Anthony Ranaudo takes the hill. Of course the organization is thin up top in terms of pitching, so that’s not exactly a bold statement. However, from a trade standpoint, the swap of Epstein for McNutt is not quite as one sided as it may seem considering the acquisition of McNutt does fill a serious organizational need for the Red Sox.



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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


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John
Guest
4 years 8 months ago

Someone needs to forward this article to Peter Gammons, who said on WEEI that McNutt would bet he Red Sox 25th best prospect.

Jon
Guest
Jon
4 years 8 months ago

as a cub he wouldnt be in the top 100

as a red sox he would have already won 2 cy youngs

Michael Felger
Guest
Michael Felger
4 years 8 months ago

Yeah, because the Red Sox have a long history of having hyped prospects not meeting expectations…

Norm
Member
4 years 8 months ago

Doesn’t even look like McNutt follows through all the time…and looks like he’s going to hyperextend that left knee!

Judy
Guest
Judy
4 years 8 months ago

You have wonder at Cubs fans being happy to get their new GM when he’s leaving behind a farm system that doesn’t even have a single pitcher in it as good as this guy.

j bones
Guest
j bones
4 years 8 months ago

forget him, Starlin or nothing

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
4 years 8 months ago

LOL!

Jon
Guest
Jon
4 years 8 months ago

what are the red sox really think

they decided no deal and pull back theo and have an unhappy GM for the year? is that really a smart move

ChadT
Guest
ChadT
4 years 8 months ago

How did Webster look?

Tom
Guest
Tom
4 years 8 months ago

Won’t the Cubs have to give up even more to the Padres if they hire Hoyer?

Dave
Guest
Dave
4 years 8 months ago

If Theo stayed with the Sox, they would pay his salary but have him stay away from the team. Ben Cherington is already the GM in Boston, no matter what happens with Theo. Supposedly, the Cubs wouldn’t have to give up much (if anything) to get Hoyer due to a strong relationship between Tom Ricketts & Padres owner Jeffrey Moorad.

Brian
Guest
Brian
4 years 8 months ago

I think what would happen is Ricketts would ask which of the two would Moorad let go between Byrnes and Hoyer. He has hired Byrnes twice now and rumor has it thinks of him as a son so will just promote him to GM with Hoyer leaving. Will be a huge upgrade from Hendry to Hoyer/Epstein.

Paul
Guest
Paul
4 years 8 months ago

After seeing the vid and reading the report, I’m a little miffed by all the BA hype. He reminds me a lot of Brad Penny, which should be telling. Then again, for a few years Penny was solid. He is nowhere near Eovaldi’s universe for me.

Robert
Guest
Robert
4 years 8 months ago

This is so theoretical. McNutt is not going to go to Boston. Not unless it is in a deal where Epstein is allowed to bring a significant number of assistants with him.

j bones
Guest
j bones
4 years 8 months ago

You’re right, McNutt won’t. Because it’s going to be Starlin.

Of the one-man Starlin Vocal Band I am a fan

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 7 months ago

He’s going to Boston.

boom
Guest
4 years 8 months ago

Considering how crappy the Cubs farm system is, their top prospects should be considered in compensation for Theo. It’s not Bostons fault Chicago has done such a terrible job drafting over the past decade or so. Trey McNutt is a good start, but let’s not kid ourselves, he’s no Matt Moore. I would expect him and a couple other decent lower level prospects in exchange for Theo and a handful of his underlings. Chicago has to get this done, they’re in too deep. So now they pay the piper.

Pickles
Guest
Pickles
4 years 8 months ago

All this Theo talk is McNutty if you ask me.

subtle
Member
subtle
4 years 8 months ago

Do you think the Sox are just being jerks because the Cubs claimed their coveted Max Ramirez off waivers last Spring?

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 7 months ago

No. Stop trying to low ball us.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 7 months ago

Give us Mcnutt already you scrooges!

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