Texas, Philly Exchange Former No. 1 Draft Picks

It’s rare for Major League Baseball teams to trade prospects straight up for one another, but that is exactly what happened this past week while clubs were finalizing 40-man rosters for the winter in advance of the Rule 5 draft in early December.

The Philadelphia Phillies, in need of a replacement for departing free agent Pat Burrell, traded Double-A outfielder Greg Golson, who appeared in six games with the big club, to the Texas Rangers for John Mayberry Jr., who had spent the majority of the season in Triple-A. Golson, 23, was the 21st overall selection in the 2004 amateur draft out of a Texas high school. Mayberry was the 19th overall selection in the 2005 amateur draft out of Stanford University.

Both players have very different skill sets. Golson is a raw, athletic player with speed and power potential. Mayberry has limited speed and athleticism, but a ton of power. Neither player currently projects to hit for a high average. In 2008, Golson hit .282/.335/.434 with 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 426 at-bats. He posted rates of 7.4 BB% and a scary 30.5 K%. His ISO was .153.

Mayberry hit .268/.302/.512 in 21 Double-A games before moving up to Triple-A. At the higher level, he had a line of .263/.310/.474 with an ISO of .211 in 437 at-bats. Mayberry, 25, whose father John Sr., had a long Major League career, posted rates of 6.4 BB% and 19.5 K% at Triple-A.

Both players obviously have their strengths and weaknesses. And both players are likely to spend time at the Major League level in 2009 making the league minimum salary. Mayberry is currently in line to help fill the void left by Burrell, who hit .250/.367/.507 with an ISO of .257 in 2008. Mayberry could probably come close to Burrell’s production in terms of power – and average – but he’s not likely to walk over 100 times.

Golson, on the other hand, has a chance to open the season as the Rangers’ center fielder, which would allow Josh Hamilton, the incumbent, to slid to one of the corners. Golson, though, must keep looking over his shoulder with top prospect Julio Borbon – also a center fielder, coming off a breakout season, which was split between High-A and Double-A. Borbon is also quite possibly more advanced as a player at this point, which makes the trade a little perplexing from Texas’ standpoint. Golson’s 2009 MLB numbers will likely be little or no help to a fantasy baseball team – unless you’re looking for stolen base potential in an AL-only league.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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