New Prospects for Nats, Jays, O’s

Jumping right into the rest of yesterday’s moves…

The Nationals acquire Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa.

A couple of interesting points to bring up here. First, I think it’s clear that a blocked prospect is worth less on an open market. As Jack pointed out yesterday, the Twins were left trading Ramos (and another player) just to add a half-win to an already successful bullpen this season, as well as Capps’ potential 2011 contributions. The other 29 teams certainly know that Wilson Ramos didn’t have a future in Minnesota, and his trade value was effected by it. He’ll be an important anecdote for the next blocked prospect on the trade block.

Ramos is a guy that has never caught more than 80 games in a single season, with a long injury history that has hampered his development some. Patience wasn’t a skill he was able to acquire over just 375 games in five years, and it certainly stands in the way of his offensive potential. Defensively, the skills are already there, and they are excellent. Don’t be surprised if Ramos becomes one of the top defensive signal callers in the National League very soon. His offensive game will be very tied to his strikeout rate — I don’t think he’ll be a positive with the bat, but he’s just trying to fight off being a negative. Still, a league-average bat (+0) and +3 defense in two-thirds of a season is about two and a half wins. Ramos should be able to get there, and is a two-win guy even is his wOBA doesn’t pass .320.

However, he also heads to a team that has signed a Hall of Fame catcher to a two-year contract. The Nationals need to be clear with Pudge Rodriguez that when they deem Ramos ready, Pudge becomes a $3 million back-up. And, hopefully, a mentor to a player whose defensive abilities could only be helped by a select few. Where this leaves Jesus Flores is a question I don’t have an answer to.

Interestingly enough, the Nationals made this trade with another catching prospect of their own. One of the reasons some believed Bryce Harper was instantly perceived as an outfielder by the Nationals is because of their faith in Derek Norris. While I don’t think that’s true, Norris is a really nice prospect. In just a couple years, his catching skills have improved remarkably: just four passed balls and a 55% caught stealing rate this year. Combine that with 234 career walks in 1253 plate appearances, and an inkling of power that has hid this year, and he profiles better than Ramos in the long run. However, this does allow the Nationals to develop Norris at a very conservative pace, perhaps sending him back to Potomac next year for a half-season or so. These things tend to figure themselves out.

The Nationals also bring in left-handed reliever Joe Testa in the deal, but he’s nothing more than a throw-in. He’s death on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .179 batting average with just 18 walks and five extra-base hits over about 185 plate appearances in the last year and a half. He’s a good bet to reach the Major Leagues as a LOOGY.

The Blue Jays acquire Anthony Gose.

So, if reports are to be believed, this is the guy the Blue Jays wanted since the Roy Halladay trade. The Phillies wouldn’t budge, and sent Michael Taylor instead, who Toronto immediately flipped for Brett Wallace. When Gose was pushed into the Roy Oswalt trade, Toronto saw their chance. I don’t think these series of moves bode particularly well for Taylor or Wallace; in Taylor’s case, clearly the Phillies and Blue Jays value Gose over him, and in Wallace’s case, it’s never good when a guy plays for four organizations before reaching the Major Leagues. Jason Bay is the only success story with that resume I can think of.

As for Gose, he’s certainly a guy that looks the part. Gose has a good center fielder body, and absolutely blazing speed, with now 115 steals in 245 career games. He does make an insane amount of outs on the bases, too, though. His defense in center field — while it didn’t get good reviews from TotalZone last year — has been praised by scouts. His first-step instincts might need some work, but his range and his cannon arm are certainly Major League caliber.

But, like you probably guessed, the question is the bat. An optimist would point to the minor steps forward taken in both the walk and power columns this year, though the pessimist would be quick to point out that neither is to an acceptable level. I wouldn’t write off the patience of a 19-year-old, but I don’t think you’ll find many that think this 60% groundball rate hitter will have much power to speak of at higher levels. And, of course, he’s now striking out more than ever, profiling to whiff 150 times per season. It’s hard to think he’ll ever get out of the negative range with the bat.

There is a path to success for Gose, but the sheer amount of refinement that will take makes it extremely unlikely. You have to think this kind of a guy becomes a fifth outfielder in the Majors at least, but his ceiling is about where Brett Wallace‘s meager median outcomes lie.

The Orioles acquire Wynn Pelzer.

There is no downside to this move by the Orioles, who open up a spot for a red-hot Josh Bell by trading Miguel Tejada. The pickings were going to be slim, but Pelzer at least offers a live arm with a lot of potential. Pelzer was a ninth-round pick in 2007, but got above-slot money despite an enigmatic career at South Carolina. The Padres returned Pelzer to the rotation, a role he could never hold onto with the Gamecocks.

Entering the 2010 season, the decision couldn’t have appeared better. Pelzer was commanding the zone better than he’d ever before, and in 2009, even the Cal League’s tough environment couldn’t hold him back. Pelzer allowed just six home runs in 150 innings, posting a groundout-to-flyout ratio of 2.00. While he was pretty limited to two pitches, the movement on his 94 mph fastball was enough to handle A-ball hitters. The belief is usually that we don’t know a prospect’s true colors until he reaches Double-A, however, and it’s been a rocky season for Pelzer.

Through 18 starts, Pelzer had a 4.52 ERA, 1.13 GO/AO, was getting crushed by left-handed hitters (.846 OPS allowed), and a 4.72 BB/9. After July 13, the Padres moved Pelzer to the bullpen, whether because of his lack of success, a chance to limit his innings, or a chance to showcase his raw stuff for the trade deadline. In four relief outings since, Pelzer hasn’t allowed a run in 6.2 innings, and has been a groundball machine. Still, with 10 walks allowed, control is a problem like it hasn’t been since college.

With such a drastic platoon split that’s been apparent since his professional career began, it’s hard to imagine Pelzer having a ton of success as a starting pitcher. But in the bullpen, where his fastball can go above 95 mph with movement, and where his slider is death on right-handed hitters, Pelzer could be very good. If the Orioles end up with an elite reliever for a half-season of Miguel Tejada that they really didn’t need, it will certainly be a victory for them.




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41 Responses to “New Prospects for Nats, Jays, O’s”

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  1. geo says:

    Why is it a big deal that the Phillies and Jays both value Gose over Taylor? Taylor is in the A’s system now, and as long as they value him, who cares what the Phillies and Jays think? Does it just give him a bad rep or something?

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      It doesn’t *matter*, really, but I think it might tell us that the offseason consensus on Taylor was overrating him. I think it serves to explain his struggles this year. Two teams with more information than we have liked him less than Anthony Gose. That’s useful when approaching a prospect ranking.

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  2. matt w says:

    The link on Miguel Tejada’s name goes to Miguel Cabrera’s page. I was going, “They traded him?”

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  3. don says:

    I’ve read that Gose has touched 95 from the mound and he’s left handed. Is that a backup plan if he can’t learn to hit? He’s still very young.

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  4. Chris S says:

    Can it really be true that Gose’s ceiling is at Wallace’s median? I’m not sure what sort of percentile of range of possible outcomes “ceiling” entails, but there must be a pretty wide range of outcomes at 19 years old. Gose’s minor league numbers are comparable to, say, Mike Cameron’s at the same age, and Cameron’s peak years at ~5 WAR seem to be above Wallace’s median. Not to say that everyone who hits poorly at 19 turns into Mike Cameron, this would be an outlier for sure (scouts’ opinions of Gose’s defense notwithstanding), but isn’t that what ceiling means at this point?

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      It’s hyperbole, certainly. What I mean is that Wallace is a sure-fire Major Leaguer, and Gose will need a lot of development even to get to that 1.5-2.5 WAR level.

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      • aweb says:

        But he’s 19, above average (at the plate) for his league at a young age, and apparently a possible defensive whiz. It’s a gamble, but players do get better, you know. 24 year old Gose is not just a 5-year-older version of the current player.

        I certainly wouldn’t worry about the CS numbers in the minors – if I was developing a speedster, I’d send him all the time too, just so he could learn. If it turns out he can’t be a great SB threat, just don’t let him steal. There’s a pretty short list of players who add significant value on stolen bases, and it appears Gose could potentially be one.

        This is a challenge trade for the Blue Jays scouting and coaching staff – here’s some top quality clay to mold, now make us a player.

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  5. Brendan says:

    I appreciate the insight, but don’t you believe it’s slightly worthless to even try and project Gose’s major league career at this point? Should we trust his 60% GB rate or the army of scouts?

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      What army of scouts think he’s going to change his swing/approach and hit for power? I’ve heard people think he has a little more juice left in the bat, but no one thinks he has any formidable power potential.

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      • Brendan says:

        Ya i just mean that he’ll probably fill out a bit more as he leaves his teenage years…and who knows what’ll happen to his swing in the next 5 years. If he cleans up his baserunning approach and the defence sticks, he could be a valuable piece, at least more valuable than a 4th outfielder…right?? Just trying to make myself feel better here, lol.

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      • Brendan says:

        oh and by army of scouts,i meant all of AA’s.

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  6. Tom says:

    Guess the entire Jays organization is under HR/swing for the fences fever, not just the players.. Which frankly I believe is needed to win in the AL East

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  7. MauerPower says:

    I really wish Ramos didn’t get delt, I mean we have no place for him right now but we traded him for a reliever…Capps and Rauch are VERY similar this yr. Both have similar FIPs, K/9, GB%, BB%. Career wise that is.

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  8. MauerPower says:

    Whoops, wording kinda messed up. But you get the point..lol

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  9. little nitpick says:

    Its “affected” not “effected.” I don’t understand how people can mess these grammatical rules up–even when typing quickly. It should be second nature if english is your first language.

    Other common mistakes: “their” versus “there”, etc, etc

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  10. Lintyfresh says:

    Norris has only lost his power this year because he’s coming back from a broken hamate.

    He’ll be right back to normal next year.

    Walk rate is still in line with everything else. He’s moving on just as planned.

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  11. ComebackKid says:

    How about “it’s,” or not putting a comma after the word “affected?” Oh, and you should capitalize English.

    I don’t understand how people mess this up. Lol Idiot.

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  12. Ryan says:

    fuck off with the grammer shit

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  13. tdotsports1 says:

    Hopefully a future Brett Gardner!? (Gose)

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      Gardner was always a guy that walked a ton. That would be the one thing that separates them the most at this point.

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  14. JK says:

    Have to make the obligatory ” Where’s Wallace at String? Where’s Wallace?”

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  15. fjkagreklg says:

    Seeing as Gose as similar numbers to Carl Crawford when he was 19 (albeit Crawford was at AA), i dont know how you can possibly say his ceiling is a 4th outfielder.

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  16. Preston says:

    I wonder if we’re seeing a growing movement towards stockpiling catchers in some organizations – if you consider recent history, at least, it seems like there may be a higher failure rate there than at many other positions, not to mention players often fade much more quickly. For example, it seems like all the Texas catching prospects imploded, Wieters doesn’t seem to be as good as expected, Dioner Navarro had a good year and then crashed, and Russell Martin had a couple good years and now is in a tailspin. Can’t think of others off the top of my head, and there are certainly counter examples (Santana and Posey), but perhaps this goes to explain the approach teams like the Yankees, Blue Jays, and now Nationals are taking; it certainly seems reasonably likely that catcher has the highest bust potential of any position after pitcher, given the extra stress on the body and the extra work that needs to be put in studying game plans and working with pitchers.

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  17. Mike Green says:

    Gose’s ceiling is much, much higher than Wallace’s median outcome. The issue is how likely he is to attain that ceiling. Is it 3%, 5%, 10%, 15% or 25%? I really have no idea. All I can say is that there have been any number of fine defensive centerfielders with little punch and significant strike zone issues at age 19/20, from Willie Wilson and Devon White to Gary Pettis, who made progress on it and became very useful players.

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    • Bryan Smith says:

      Admittedly hyperbole. I should say something like Gose’s median outcome is about where Wallace’s abilities are today.

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      • Mike Green says:

        I definitely agree with that.

        It is the distribution above the median, though, which is the most important thing (for both players). Wallace right now is not even a 1.5 WAR player. He’s a below average defender at first base who would be roughly a league average hitter (at best).

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      • ddriver80 says:

        I have to agree about Wallace being a league average player. He has a good bat, but not for Power, he’s alot like Lyle Overbay when it comes to power and average, but plays poor Defense and isn’t the good baserunner that Overbay is. Adam Lind is a more athletic option at 1B who wont clog the basepaths

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      • ddriver80 says:

        Not to mention that Wallace has had a mediocre line vs. Right handers his whole career in the minors, as well as having declined sharply after a hot start this year.

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