It was an incredibly busy week leading up to the trade deadline this past Sunday in which all but four teams - the Rays, Yankees, Twins, and the Angels - made deals changing their big league roster.
I'm on vacation this week with my entire extended family as we celebrate my father making it to 60 years and surviving myself and my two younger brothers and our five children all this time so here are my immediate reactions to the prospects traded with fantasy relevance.
Giants acquire Zach Wheeler: As I said on the radio with Jeff and DVR last week, I never thought this deal would happen, but Brian Sabean proved me wrong. Wheeler definitely has ace stuff, but TINSTAAPP always rings loudly with these types of moves. Wheeler has 172 strikeouts in 151 innings of work, but he also has 85 walks and 11 hit batsmen with just a 2.0 K/BB. His first start for the Mets' organization was good in that he did not walk anyone in four innings, but he gave up seven hits and four runs in just four innings. If Wheeler is going to hit his ceiling, his control has a ways to go. That said, the Mets were able to get the type of prospect most thought was impossible with Beltran's punitive contract and the lack of compensation for letting him go as a free agent this winter.
Astros acquire Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, Juan Abreu, Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and Josh Zeid: This was the Astros' haul for trading away their two best hitters. The Astros fan in me liked the Pence return a lot more than the Bourn return. Singleton represents just the type of impact bat the organization needed, if he can make the adjustments. After destroying the ball in Lakewood, he had a much tougher time hitting in Clearwater this season where the ball dies in the humid air, but he now goes to Lancaster in the California League where he could close out the season with monster numbers. His path to the majors is much clearer now that he doesn't have to worry about Ryan Howard in his way. Cosart worked in the Futures Game, and showed mid-90s heat and a very good 12-to-6 curveball, but his numbers this season have not been terribly impressive for someone with his stuff as he has just 79 strikeouts in 108 innings. The Astros are going to bump him to Double-A Corpus Christi to keep him out of the pitching hell-hole in Lancaster, but Cosart needs to miss more bats. His strikeout rate was 9.7 in Low-A last season but just 6.6 this season. Zeid has worked as a swing man in the Phillies' organization and has a career 8.6 strikeout rate in 251 innings of work. This season, he has 57 strikeouts in 64 innings, but has also walked 27 while allowing nine home runs and 64 hits. The strikeout rate, and the lack of much in his way, should give Zeid a clear path to the Bad New Astros sometime next season.
The return in the Bourn trade was less impressive as the team got three pitchers and Jordan Schafer, who most knowledgeable Braves fans could not wait to get rid of. Oberholtzer profiles as a back half of the rotation type guy who can throw strikes. His home-run rates are low despite the fact he is mostly a flyball pitcher. There's value in that type of guy in the majors, but not much for fantasy owners. Clemens was one of his teammates at Double-A Mississippi but is also a guy who have given up more hits than innings pitched in his minor league career with a 7.6 K/9 and a 2.0 K/BB. Abreu is having a dominant season in Triple-A as he has struck out 68 batters and allowed just 34 hits in 48 innings, but he is also 26 years old. Winston Abreu (no relation) put up identical dominating numbers in the same league for Durham in 2009 and 2010 and could not sniff a major league opportunity. However, Houston is practically holding a casting call for talent on the 25-man roster so Abreu could get his shot very soon if not immediately.
Mariners acquire Francisco Martinez, Chih-Hsien Chiang and Trayvon Robinson: The numbers for Martinez this season are not impressive on the surface at Double-A as he is hitting .280/.317/.402 but he also does not turn 21 until the end of the minor league season which helps makes his numbers a bit easier to digest. That said, 19 walks against 80 strikeouts in 377 plate appearances is still an eye-sore to look at. He is one to watch in deep dynasty leagues. Chiang was another Futures Game participant as a member of the Red Sox and is having a monster year in Double-A as he is hitting .340/.402/.644 after some rather average numbers in previous seasons outside of the pinball numbers in Lancaster in 2008. WEEI.com Red Sox beat writer Alex Speier reported earlier this season that Chiang made adjustments to his diet to control his Type-1 diabetes and that it has helped drive this success, but whether he is this good remains to be seen. He should have no problem putting up more good numbers in the Pacific Coast League next season and his path to the majors is now wide open in Seattle as is the case for Robinson who came over from the Dodgers' organization.
After a slow start to the season, Robinson got matters under control in Albuquerque and was hitting .293/.375/.563 at the time of the trade. He has just 45 walks and 122 strikeouts in 416 plate appearances which is worse than what he did last season in the more neutral Southern League. Still, the additions of Chiang and Robinson add to the mix of potential in Seattle and the Mariners have to hope some of these bats realize that potential. This was still a nice haul for trading away a pending free agent in Erik Bedard as well as Doug Fister and selling high on David Pauley.
Rockies acquire Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner, and Matt McBride: If you want to know what paying a premium for help looks like, this is your trade. Pomeranz and White aren't aces, but they're going to be a part of the Rockies' rotation in future years and the kind of depth the Indians will eventually come to miss. Pomeranz can't officially be part of the deal until August 15, but the early returns on his career are impressive has he has struck out 112 while walking just 38 and allowing three home runs in 91 innings. He was bumped to Double-A three starts ago and has not skipped a beat. White has already made an appearance in the majors but has missed time this season with a finger injury. In 174 innings of minor league work, he has allowed 142 hits, 13 home runs, and has struck out 145 while walking 51. His strikeout rate dipped from 8.4 to 6.4 when he made the jump from High-A to Double-A, but it spiked up to 10.6 this season in Triple-A. The other pieces do not matter as much here but NL-only fantasy players just got two nice infusions of talent for their minor league drafts next season if both hit their ceilings.
Padres acquire Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland: Any time a good pitching prospect gets taken out of a future in Arlington and moved to Petco, you cannot help but take notice. Erlin and Wieland are good prospects, but Petco is going to help them be better ones at home. Erlin is a short lefty who has an impressive statistical resume in 240 innings of work in the Texas organization and was 8-4 with a 3.34 and 123 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 121 innings of work this season. Command like that will go a long way and moving from Texas to San Diego shines him up even more. Wieland is coming off a recent no-hitter and has struck out 132 while walking just 15 in 129 innings himself. Whenever you can get a future starter for one reliever, it is a good deal. When you can get two future major league starters for a non-closer, even better. Both of these guys need to be on your radar for your 2012 draft.