Prospects In The Justin Upton Deal

Earlier in the week, I discussed the type of prospect package the Diamondbacks would require from the Atlanta Braves for a deal to make sense for both franchises. Little did I know the Braves would be willing to part with Martin Prado, a lynchpin of the organization who has averaged nearly four-wins per season from 2010-2012.

When a player of Prado’s ilk is included, the prospect haul is bound to shrink. While all four youngsters have Major League possibilities, the group is void of impact potential.

The most notable prospect is Randall Delgado who already has a Major League resume. One paper, he’s the pitcher I saw in Chattanooga as a Double-A prospect. Iffy command. 90-92 mph sinking fastball, touching 94. Breaking pitches including a curveball and changeup he uses liberally, but require additional refinement. Delgado has a high floor and the ability to improve, but he’s a quality third starter at his peak.

For me, he’s a clear silver to Teheran’s gold as Delgado is more of a sure thing than J.R. Graham. I know Graham is a hot prospect name right now, but Delgado was in the same boat a couple of years ago. Prospect followers forget this quickly.

The second pitching prospect in the deal, Zeke Spruill, had been in the Braves organization for quite awhile. After battling maturity and injury issues at the lower levels, Spruill righted the ship in 2011 and regained some lost value.

In Marc Hulet’s Braves top-15, he had this to say about the ninth ranked Spruill,

Spruill’s approach on the mound has evolved over time and he’s become more of a pitch-to-contact pitcher. His strikeout rates are a little low, as a result, but he produces above-average ground-ball rates. He has a tall, lanky frame with good balance and an easy delivery.

He could be a solid innings-eater at the back-end of the starting rotation. With some improvements to his secondary stuff I could see him pitching at the level of a No. 3 starter for at least a few seasons.

In April, two position prospects I hadn’t seen previously impressed me in an exhibition game between the Atlanta Braves and future Braves. The names? Nick Ahmed and Brandon Drury. To be clear, neither profile as impact talents, but most Single-A players don’t project as big leaguers either.

Nick Ahmed has a long, lanky frame at shortstop which is ideal. However, the agility and quickness one would expect from a 40-stolen base player falls a bit flat. Ahmed has the arm strength and lateral movement to stick, but he’s an average defensive shortstop for me.

On offense, he had a tendency to push the barrel using an inside out approach. The bat appeared heavy in his hands as if Ahmed lacked strength. However, one can dream on his body filling out, allowing him to add size and develop more power.

Brandon Drury had the best single swing of the exhibition game as I can still recall his scorching line drive to right-center for a double. It was my only glimpse of him as a viable big leaguer in 2012 as Drury proceeded to struggle mightily. When a corner infield prospect finishes with a triple slash line of .231/.273/.335, it’s easy to write him off. Drury is better than the numbers indicate.

Drury was also a better third baseman than I was expecting. Nothing about his defense is flashy, but he’s able to make the routine plays and throws. He has a chance of sticking.

The Diamondbacks received an underwhelming haul of young talent in this deal. Best case scenario, they acquired a future third starter, fourth starter, second division shortstop and bench bat on the corner infield. For Arizona, this trade is all about Martin Prado, and hinges upon his tenure in the desert.




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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.


25 Responses to “Prospects In The Justin Upton Deal”

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  1. El Guapo says:

    Disagree. This deal is all about Arixona unloading Upton.

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  2. Jeremy Strain says:

    I hear an extension is pretty much agreed to, and was a big part of the trade.

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  3. JT Grace says:

    Loved the trade when I first heard that it was going to be Delgado, Gilmartin, Ahmed and Spruill for Upton. I like the trade ok now, but HATE giving up Prado. He is the heart and soul of the Braves. He is well worth the 11M/yr he wanted in a contract extension.

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  4. rotowizard says:

    Statistically speaking this actually works for Arizona. As was mentioned in the first article reviewing this deal, Prado essentially was last year what ZIPS projects Upton to be this year. If you view the difference between Chris Johnson and whomever the D’backs use to fill the hole Upton left, it’s probably a win increase of 2 or more. Then again, if Upton gets back to MVP caliber, then it’s a moot point. Still, tough day to be a Diamondbacks fan. As a Pirates loyalist who experienced the gut punch of an underwhelming J-Bay haul, I feel your pain.

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  5. wilt says:

    If Prado signs for 4/50 (or 5/57 including this year) does that really make it any better for the Dbacks? I don’t think Prado will go from asking for 12m AAV to 9 or 10 just because he got traded.

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      With the rising price of a win and how good Prado has been before this season, yeah, probably. Decent chance Prado racks up 60 MM in value in he first 3 seasons and definitely should through 4.

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  6. Scott says:

    I love this trade for the Braves. I’m probably higher on Spruill and Delgado than most but they basically traded 2/3 type of pitcher a 4/5 type of pitcher, a solid potential SS or 3B in Ahmed and Drury who i’ve never been a fan of.

    This trade was just short of highway robbery for the Braves, only part that stings was they traded potentially about a 4 WAR player in Prado. But there’s little to no doubt in my mind that the Braves walked out the winners, I can easily see Upton posting 20 WAR over the course of his existing contract with the Braves, I see almost no way that happens for the D-Backs unless all of the prospects the Braves traded see significant MLB time and what are the odd of that happening?

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    • wilt says:

      20 WAR?

      Pass me some of that.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        I mean if you think 2011 represents Upton’s true talent level (which isn’t outlandish given his age), then yeah 20 WAR over 3 years isn’t crazy. Optimistic, but not crazy.

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      • Hank says:

        Players who posted 20 WAR over the last 3 years:
        Cabrera, Cano, Votto (Braun just missed the cut)

        And the comment was “I can easily see Upton posting 20 WAR over the existing contract”… not that it was merely possible.

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  7. ttnorm says:

    Mike, I don’t think I have used up my dumb question allotment for today yet so I want to ask about how you phrased your defense comments on Nick Ahmed. Are you saying that his agility and quickness is sub standard for a SS or substandard for a 40 SB guy? Any when you say he ‘has the arm strength and lateral movement to stick but he is an average SS’, does that make him a 5? Thanks for clarifying.

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  8. matt says:

    Deity had one of the hardest hit balls I have ever seen in Augusta last season with line drive triple off the top of the cf wall there. That was all he did but good lord when he makes contact its beautiful.

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  9. Jack of No Trades says:

    Teheran is just a name at this point. I think Delgado passed him as far as someone who might actually survive long enough to have a career.

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    • Jack of No Trades says:

      Also that Ahmed kid has some good potential. He’s what Cubs fans probably hoped for Junior Lake at some point. Love the 36 doubles.

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    • majnun says:

      If Delgado is only slightly better, Teheran is not just a name.

      Also I don’t think most would agree that Delgado is better

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    • Antonio bananas says:

      Right, because a 2 time top 5 prospect who has 2 full years at AAA at 21 and struggled last year apparently due to he org wanting him to work on secondary stuff and having mechanical issue is “just a name”

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