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Prospects In The Justin Upton Deal

Posted By Mike Newman On January 24, 2013 @ 1:00 pm In Braves,Daily Graphings,Diamondbacks,Minor Leagues | 25 Comments

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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