The trade winds continue to blow as the off-season begins to heat up. A number of minor league players were on the move this week as the Chicago Cubs sent promising, and hard-throwing, reliever Jose Ceda to the Florida Marlins for reliever Kevin Gregg.
Ceda was originally a highly-thought-of starting pitcher whose lack of command and control warranted a move to the bullpen, which took place midway through 2008. The 21-year-old Ceda spent the first half of the season in High-A ball where he allowed 41 hits in 55.1 innings over 12 starts (15 total appearances). He also posted rates of 4.64 BB/9 and 8.78 K/9. His Double-A relief numbers included 26 hits allowed in 30.1 innings, with rates of 4.15 BB/9 and 12.46 K/9. Ceda is still raw, and a long way from realizing his potential as a dominating closer, but he could see time in Florida in 2009 where he will showcase a high-90s fastball and mid-80s slider.
In a separate deal, the New York Yankees acquired slumping veteran OF/1B Nick Swisher and minor league reliever Kanekoa Texeira from the Chicago White Sox for MLB reserve infielder Wilson Betemit, Triple-A starting pitcher Jeff Marquez and Double-A reliever Jhonny Nunez. It’s impressive that New York managed to get Swisher for those three players, let alone have Chicago toss in a B-level minor league reliever. Texeira has average stuff but he has more than enough talent to be a middle reliever in Major League Baseball. At High-A ball, he allowed 28 hits in 38.2 innings and posted rates of 3.26 BB/9 and 8.38 K/9. At Double-A, he allowed 18 hits in 22.1 innings and posted rates of 2.82 BB/9 and 9.67 K/9/. Texeira may actually be the most talented of the three prospects that changed hands in this deal… which speaks less about his overall talent and more about the quality of prospects that Chicago received.
With that said, Marquez is an interesting player. Only 24, Marquez has the potential to fit in at the back end of the White Sox rotation or as a long reliever. He won 15 games in Double-A in 2007, but his overall numbers were no where near as impressive as the win total. Marquez struggled with injuries in 2008 and started 14 games at Triple-A. He allowed 93 hits in 80.2 innings and posted rates of 2.68 BB/9 and 3.68 K/9. Marquez has always been too hittable and doesn’t strike out many batters, but he’s had constant success in terms of FIP and ERA. He is basically a one-pitch pitcher with a sinker and a collection of below-average or average secondary pitches.
Nunez, 22, has already been the property of the Dodgers, the Nationals, the Yankees and now the White Sox. He is another one-pitch pitcher with a low- to mid-90s fastball, as well as a developing slider and change-up. If he sticks in the bullpen, Nunez can scrap the change-up. In High-A ball this season as a starter, the right-hander allowed 88 hits in 81 innings and posted rates of 2.33 BB/9 and 9.11 K/9. After moving up to Double-A, for both Washington and New York, Nunez allowed 25 hits in 27.1 innings and struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings. Chicago does love those hard-throwing relievers so Nunez could surface at the Major League level by the end of 2009 if his command continues to improve.
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