Prospect three-day weekend

While this year’s trade deadline may not have included any huge blockbuster deals on the major league level, a bevy of prospects have had to change their addresses, many of whom may not have expected to need packing boxes so soon. Let’s look at the prospects who were traded in the past few weeks.

Zach Stewart

In what turned out to be a precursor to a bigger deal involving more major leaguers, the Blue Jays sent Stewart to the White Sox to obtain Edwin Jackson, and thus were able to trade him to St. Louis for Colby Rasmus. A number of big league relievers and major league role players also were involved in both deals, but none have any real long-term implications.

Stewart, on the other hand, has now been a part of a trade-deadline deal twice in the past three seasons, coming to Toronto in 2009 as a part of the Scott Rolen trade with Cincinnati. Called up for a cameo in the majors earlier this year, Stewart made three starts, two of which were okay and one of which was horrendous. Stewart spent his time in the Jays system at Double-A, a repeat assignment from last year that turned in similar results. Now with the White Sox, Stewart has been assigned to Triple-A.

Stewart is not an ace in the making, but could still be a reliable mid-rotation starter. If his change-up never fully develops the way a few organizations have now hoped it will, he can be a reliable bullpen arm, which is the path Cincinnati had him on prior to 2009.

Zack Wheeler

We discussed the Wheeler/Carlos Beltran trade last week. The conclusion? Wheeler is good; time will tell if the deal was.

Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart

For the third time in the past four years, the Astros have restocked their depleted farm system via the Philadelphia Phillies’ continuously deep one. This restocking might have cost the Phillies in terms of high-end prospects, as they had to part with their top two in Singleton and Cosart. Singleton had become the system’s best hitting prospect, but a move to the outfield to clear the Ryan Howard-sized roadblock to the majors didn’t work out as they had hoped, leaving him stuck at first base and thus expendable.

Singleton has displayed the rare combination of power potential with a command of the strike zone and without the swings-and-misses that typically accompany such characteristics. Once again young for his league, the left-handed Singleton had backed up an .872 OPS last season in the Sally League with an equally impressive .800 OPS in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League at the time of his departure. His numbers at hitter-happy Lancaster and the rest of the California League could be video game-esque.

Cosart was one of a number of highly-regarded pitching prospects the Phillies had pitching in the low minors, and arguably had the highest ceiling of any of them thanks to a mid-90s fastball and potential plus curveball. He immediately becomes the best pitcher in the Astros system, where he was assigned to Double-A. Cosart’s numbers had been down this year, particularly his strikeout rate, but because he has never pitched this many innings in a professional season, most scouts are attributing the decline to fatigue. Durability will be the only question for Cosart as he progresses through the minors.

Eric Komatsu

Receiving a usable piece to a future team like Eric Komatsu in exchange for a role player of your own during a non-contending season is a victory for Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals. Jerry Hairston fills a void for the Brewers, and in return the Nats get Komatsu, who profiles as a fourth outfielder on a contending team or a potential second-division regular. Komatsu controls the strike zone well, walking as much as he strikes out, and he can play center field, although probably isn’t a true center fielder. The Nats have kept Komatsu in Double-A and he could be playing a role in the majors around the time the team begins to compete.

Alex White and Drew Pomeranz

Pomeranz hasn’t technically been traded yet, but will be the player to be named later in the Indians/Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez blockbuster, just as soon as he’s eligible to be traded. Who wins this deal comes down to whether Jimenez is the Ubaldo of the first half of 2010, the one of 2011, or—the most likely scenarior—somewhere in between.

Regardless, the Indians gave up a lot. They had to in order to get an above-average major league pitcher who is under control for a while. The big prize for the Rockies is Pomeranz, who has torn up the minors in his first full season. The big power-lefty will soon be asked to take Ubaldo’s place atop the Rockies rotation. Also a nice pickup for the Rocks is White, another former top pick who had a nice debut in Cleveland before hitting the shelf with injury. He should fit nicely in the middle of their rotation once he returns.

Thomas Neal

Neal is a power-hitting outfielder who has stopped hitting for power. After back-to-back 40-double seasons, Neal’s power has declined for two straight seasons and has all but disappeared this year, making him more of a potential platoon outfielder in the majors. Of course, the Indians were trying to get rid of Orlando Cabrera at just about any cost, so a potential role player from the Giants is better than nothing.

Paul Clemens and Brett Oberholtzer

The Braves gave up a lot in quantity to get Michael Bourn from the Astros, but impressively didn’t give up any of their top four arms in terms of quality. Oberholtzer and Clemens are both good arms and are having good seasons in the upper minors. Clemens, a righty, profiles as a back-of-the-rotation pitcher, with Oberholtzer, a lefty, perhaps a tick better. Both could take a place in the Houston rotation by the end of next season.

Robbie Erlin

The Rangers’ stacked farm system continues to allow them to make moves at the trade deadline, this time trading Erlin and Joe Wieland for Padres reliever Mike Adams. Erlin, a former third-round pick, has had a nice professional career for the Rangers and should only do better getting to eventually pitch in Petco Park. His three-pitch mix and advanced approach to pitching should fit right in with the Padres.

Trayvon Robinson and Tim Federowicz

The last deal of the trade deadline was a head-scratcher, if for no other reason than the Dodgers’ involvement. The Red Sox wanted Erik Bedard from the Mariners and apparently they couldn’t match up, prospect-wise. The Dodgers got involved and sent outfield prospect Robinson to the Mariners, and received Federowicz from the Red Sox. The Red Sox also sent Stephen Fife to the Dodgers and Chih-Hsien Chiang to the Mariners.

Seattle appears to be the big winner here, landing Robinson, a power-hitting center fielder who could challenge for a spot next season, and Chiang, for whom 2011 has been a breakout season offensively. The Dodgers, in turn, got Federowicz, a catcher whose strength is behind the plate but may never hit enough to play every day, and Fife, a pitcher who profiles as a middle reliever. I’m not sure why the Dodgers got involved at all.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

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Robert H. Bonter
Robert H. Bonter
As a Phillies fan, and painfully aware of the Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandburg trade disasters, I am fundamentally against trading talented youth for peak or somewhat downside established players. But this situation is different in that the Phillies have no more than this year and possibly next year to get it done with the Halladay, Lee, Lidge, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz crowd. And it could five years of rebuilding before they even approach their current level of championship contention, again. So,really, history notwithstanding, Amaro had no choice but to bet the ranch that this deal represents the final piece… Read more »