More Than Just Throw-ins

Billy Beane said he wanted the equivalent of two-first round draft picks in order to trade Matt Holliday. Asking price paid. Not only did Oakland pry Brett Wallace away from St. Louis, but two other solid prospects in RHP Clayton Mortensen and OF Shane Peterson.

Drafted in the 2007 draft 36th overall as a senior out of Gonzaga, Mortensen came with more projectability and less polish than your typical college pitcher. Despite that, Mortensen found himself pitching in Triple-A just a year after he was drafted. Tall and gangly at 6-4, 180 pounds, the Cardinals loved his 90-93 MPH sinker. This past season 55% of the balls his opponents put in play were of the worm burning variety. Mortensen struggled with walks (4.73 BB/9) and homers (1.35 HR/9) but this year he’s improved his control (2.91 BB/9). Mortensen has two average secondary pitches that have shown above average potential at times – a slider that he throws to right-handers and a change-up to lefties. He looks more like a back-end starter right now, but as he tightens up his secondary offerings, he has #3 potential.

Shane Peterson was the 59th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Long Beach State and it’s easy to see his appeal to results-oriented drafting teams like St. Louis and Oakland — amongst other things, he posted a .506 on-base percentage his junior year. Peterson has odd looking hitting mechanics. He’s a front foot hitter, but he has good bat speed and a high finish that helps him get a little bit of loft. He plays first base and can play any outfield position, but his lack of range makes him better suited for a corner spot. Peterson walked in 14.5% of his plate appearances for short-season Batavia, while also striking out nearly a third of them. This season he’s cut down on the K’s but also the walks that he was known for in college; his walk rate has hovered around the 6%-7% all season. Because of his funky hitting approach, he doesn’t hit for much power and he has the career.124 ISO in the minors to prove it. Scouts see him more as a 4th outfielder, but it looks like Oakland will try him in center. If he prove that he can stick there, his bat could have some value.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

7 Responses to “More Than Just Throw-ins”

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  1. cpebbles says:

    Shane Peterson was a wasted pick. Take away a dozen of the walks his junior year and you’ve got a guy drafted after the 10th as organizational filler. I guess there are some scouts that liked his hitting mechanics more than I did, but I’m glad we found a taker because I don’t think he sniffs the big leagues.

    I’m hesitant to read too much into a sinkerballer’s minor league numbers, but on the other hand our minor league defenses haven’t exactly made Brad Thompson look like a chump. I have a hard time seeing Mortensen sticking even as a back-end starter without improvement.

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  2. Bob says:

    What pebbles said.

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  3. Joe says:

    I basically agree with everything here about Shane Peterson who is yet another not-power hitting AAAA corner outfielder for the A’s. Seems very similar to Buck, Sweeney, Cunningham, Patterson, etc. Oakland would not have gone out of their way to get someone of this profile so he must have been a throw-in. If you’re the A’s and the Cards have agreed to part with Wallace, you basically want to get that done and not rock the boat.

    We’ll see with Mortenson though because the A’s actually have a need for AA/AAA starters, having promoted so many this year. Maybe they see some real potential in him. This franchise has a good record of spotting diamonds in the rough when it comes to young pitchers.

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  4. joser says:

    The way I like to look at this deal is: would you trade Wallace, Mortensen and Shane Peterson for Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith and Huston Street?

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    • Joe says:

      I know this is going off topic but I need to disagree with this line of thinking, which i’ve seen a lot. Where does a half year of Holliday’s services fit into your equation? That the A’s traded C. Gon., Smith, Street to get Holliday has no affect on what they would ask for to trade him away half a season later. The players’ values changed, the baseball climate changed, and the teams’ needs changed in that half season. C. Gon, Street, Smith are the baseball equivalent of sunk costs. You have to look at each trade in isolation and forget irrelevant actions of the past.

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      • joser says:

        Right, right, but since the A”s have given up on their season, a half year of Holliday’s services count for nothing, essentially. It’s nice for his career counting stats (or not so nice in the case of April), but amounts to zero as far as the A’s are concerned. They traded away some pieces to get a guy they thought could help them win a weak AL West. That didn’t happen. So the value of his services is zero (unless he brought in a few fans that wouldn’t have come otherwise)

        The A’s didn’t have Holliday before this season and they no longer have him now. But they did have those three guys before and they have three different guys now. So are the A’s better off for having Holliday pass through their hands, or not?

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      • Joe says:

        I really think you have to count the greater chance you have to reach the postseason for something. This sport is not deterministic. What if (god forbid) Holliday got injured in a freak accident and his services counted for nothing and the A’s were not able to trade him. Would you be arguing it was a bad deal for the A’s who traded some decent players for nothing? I happen to think the various deals were good for the rockies, a’s, and cards who all addressed their needs at various times and did it for a fair price.

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