Haren’s “Haul” (UPDATED)

It is easy for the initial reaction to the prospect haul the Diamondbacks received from the Angels – Pat Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, and a PTBNL – to be underwhelming. As my colleagues Matthew Carruth and Zach Sanders already detailed, it’s impossible to fully review this trade until the Player to be Named Later is, um, named. The assumption is that it’s likely to be a talented player – though not at the level of Mike Trout – and someone that was signed within the last 364 days. I’ll let others speculate who that might be (we’ll review him in this space when the trade is completed), and instead focus on the two newest Diamondbacks prospects.

Corbin was the Angels second-round pick in their loaded 2009 draft, signed and delivered via superscout Tom Kotchman. He struggled a bit in his year at Chipola Junior College, but at 6-foot-3 with a good blend of command and projection, he was worth the risk as the Angels sixth pick. Corbin spent short-season ball last year playing for Kotchman in the Pioneer League, putting up a 5.05 ERA boosted by an unsustainably high BABIP. Both in college and in the Pioneer League, Corbin was homer-happy, but he made up for it with good strikeout-to-walk rates.

This offseason, in ranking him the 22nd-best prospect in their system, Angels blog Halos Heavan likened Corbin to Joe Saunders, who is also headed to Arizona in the Haren deal. The comparison is not misguided, as they are the same build and throw their fastballs at similar velocities (Corbin’s fastball is inconsistent, but their average velocity would be near equal). The hope is that Corbin can duplicate Saunders’ command and groundball tendencies (1.51 GO/AO in High-A), but also develop his offspeed stuff enough to become a better pitcher.

There is reason to believe an improvement is a possibility. Corbin has made significant headway with the development of his change-up, and as such, has had a lot of success in the California League against right-handed hitters (.241/.301/.386 against). His strikeout rate has jumped from 6.5 in nine Midwest League starts to 9.5 in High-A. Arizona fans must hope the surge in strikeouts is the result of an improvement in his breaking ball, which was pretty rudimentary when he was drafted. The possibility of three plus pitches from the left side is a really nice starter kit, especially for an organization that needs young pitching badly.

The other addition, Rafael Rodriguez, isn’t nearly as exciting. Two months away from his 26th birthday, Rodriguez is a fungible bullpen arm with little potential to improve. Rodriguez is at his best when he’s generating a lot of groundballs and pounding the lower half of the strike zone. He did so successfully in the Major Leagues last year — though his results weren’t good — but has a more pedestrian 1.46 GO/AO ratio this year in the Pacific Coast League.His stuff isn’t swing-and-miss in the slightest, managing a 3.03 K/9 in his limited 33 innings of big league work.

While I’ll make good on my promise not to judge Arizona’s haul in full until after the trade is completed, there’s no question the final prospect in this deal will need to be a good one. Corbin is a B prospect, Rodriguez is a D, and Dan Haren is worth more than that.

UPDATE: The Arizona Republic has reported the Player To Be Named Later in this deal is Tyler Skaggs, the 40th overall pick from the 2009 draft, currently posting a 3.61 ERA through 19 Midwest League appearances.

It’s certainly interesting, and most likely not coincidental, that the Diamondbacks acquired three left-handed pitchers in the same deal. Skaggs is the southpaw with the most potential. Like Corbin, he’s lanky and projectable, but the opinions of most is that Skaggs will be the one with the most velocity in the end. Similar to Corbin, Skaggs is running a reverse platoon split (.828 vs LHH, .631 vs. RHH) this season. Skaggs is a specific player Arizona has targeted: a lefty with room to grow, with command of his moving fastball, and the seeds of three pitches already planted. There aren’t a whole lot of guys in the minors with Skaggs’ skillset, and Arizona added two in one night. There is something to be said for Arizona’s intentions.

There is also something interesting happening at the scouting level of the Diamondbacks organization: after spending their first eight picks on pitchers in last June’s draft, Arizona converted its biggest trade chip into four more pitchers. Clearly, this is a team that believes in the long-term health of their offense — because of the youth of their offensive core, presumably, but also because their stadium is always going to support the hitters. Developing some good, cheap pitching is an onus that this scouting department has certainly placed on themselves.

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mlbtraderumors has Tyler Skaggs as the PTBNL.