Projecting the Prospects of the Trading Deadline (Part 2)

The headlines don’t usually focus on the prospects, but minor leaguers always play a big part in transactions at baseball’s annual trading deadline. Last week, I took a look at four prospects involved in mid-July deals. This week, we’ll look at four more minor leaguers involved in deals over the weekend.

Each player summary includes projections derived from a technique that considers similar minor leaguers’ development. Check out David Gassko’s roundtable right here at The Hardball Times if you are interested in the art of forecasting player performances. The numbers that follow represent the average expected performance, so you should remember that any player has a 50% chance of outperforming (or underperforming) these particular projections. Additionally, I have listed each players’ 2006 statistics with their previous organization.

C.J. Henry

NY Yankees to Philadelphia Phillies | Position: Shortstop | DOB: 05/31/1986

2006    A .237 .326 .350
2007   A+ .230 .303 .331	
2008   AA .227 .297 .345
2009   AA .225 .295 .340

The Yankees passed on Craig Hansen and drafted Henry in the first round of the 2005 draft. When I listed Henry as a “disappointment” in last month’s review of the South Atlantic League, a number of Yankees fans wrote to tell me that Henry wasn’t really a disappointment because he was relatively inexperienced and everyone expected him to struggle in his first full season. That may be the case, but Henry is not demonstrating measurable improvement as the season continues, and it’s hard to view him as a success story when you look at the players they did not take with the 17th overall pick in last year’s draft. His projection is terrible, but that’s what happens when your list of similar players includes highly-touted teenagers like Scott Moore and Gookie Dawkins.

Nelson Cruz

Milwaukee Brewers to Texas Rangers | Position: Right Field | DOB: 07/01/1980

2006  AAA .302 .378 .528
2007  MLB .261 .333 .458	
2008  MLB .267 .340 .493
2009  MLB .266 .336 .471

Carlos Lee was the big name of the Milwaukee-Texas deal, but Cruz may play a more important role for the Texas organization in the long run. He swings and misses often enough to raise questions about his ability to handle good pitching, but he’s a patient hitter who is strong enough to hit 30 home runs if given a full-time job in the major leagues. Cruz was most effective versus left-handed pitching in the minor leagues, so it’s more likely he hits .275 or so with 12 to 15 home runs as the right-handed part of an outfield platoon with Texas next year.

Shin-Soo Choo

Seattle Mariners to Cleveland Indians | Position: Outfield | DOB: 07/13/1982

2006  AAA .323 .394 .499
2007  MLB .285 .358 .437
2008  MLB .284 .356 .441
2009  MLB .286 .359 .442

Choo is going to be a very productive player for the Cleveland Indians. He might not launch 25 home runs in a season like most corner outfielders on good teams, but Choo does a lot of other things very well. He has excellent on-base skills and just enough pop in his bat to hit in the top half of the Cleveland lineup. He was also 26-for-30 in stolen base attempts with Triple-A Tacoma this year, so the Indians could eventually insert him near the top of the lineup and hope for Coco Crisp-like production.

Blake Johnson

LA Dodgers to KC Royals | Position: RHP | DOB: 06/14/1985

2006   A+  4.92
2007   AA  4.68	
2008  AAA  5.24
2009  MLB  5.35

Blake Johnson joined Odalis Perez and Julio Pimentel in a move to the Royals organization early last week. Johnson was one of the top high school pitchers in the nation three years ago, but he struggled in the lower minors for most of his career. He doesn’t walk many batters, but also doesn’t get many batters to swing and miss. His recent troubles with the longball might not be a serious cause for concern. Johnson allowed 9 of his 11 home runs at hitter-friendly Vero Beach, so there’s reason to believe he can do a better job of keeping the ball in the park as he progresses through the minor leagues.

Other minor leaguers changing organizations last week: Shairon Martis (to Nationals), Wilfrido Laureano (to Phillies), Julian Cordero (to Brewers), Jesus Sanchez (to Phillies), and Carlos Monasterios (to Phillies).

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