This week's Minor League Barometer will take a bit of a different approach, as we evaluate minor leaguers traded at the deadline. Unlike years past, teams seemed much more hesitant to deal prized phenoms. Perhaps the impacts of players like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper played at least some role in the decision to hold onto young stars.
Nevertheless, let's analyze those neophytes changing hands and look at what to expect.
Jacob Turner, P, MIA - Perhaps the most well-known prospect dealt, Turner came to the Marlins in the Omar Infante/Anibal Sanchez trade. Turner's star has admittedly dimmed the last season or so. The 6-foot-5, 210, righty bounced between Triple-A and the Tigers before the deal, allowing 11 runs in 12.1 innings at the big-league level. He was effective, if unspectacular, at Triple-A Toledo, posting a 3.16 ERA and 40:24 K:BB ratio in 62.2 innings before the trade. However, his first start for Triple-A New Orleans was a gem, and Turner could get a crack at the Marlins rotation as early as this week. His ceiling is a No. 2 starter, though No. 3 is more likely.
Zack Cox, 3B, MIA - The Cardinals had no spot for Cox at the big-league level with World Series MVP David Freese manning third base, as well as hot-hitting Allen Craig shifting from the infield to outfield and back again to get his bat in the lineup. Instead, Cox has an open path to the bigs with the trades of Hanley Ramirez and Triple-A third-baseman Matt Dominguez. Still, after hitting a combined .306 with 13 home runs and 68 RBI in 2011, Cox has struggled at Triple-A in 2012. He hit .254/.294/.421 with nine home runs and 30 RBI before the trade. Nevertheless, with the Marlins once again selling off parts, Cox looks like the third baseman of the future for the Fish if he can right the ship.
Ethan Martin, P, PHI - The No. 15 selection in the 2008 draft, Martin struggled in 2010 and 2011 before putting together a better 2012 campaign. He has notched a 3.58 ERA and 112:61 K:BB ratio in 118 innings at Double-A. Control remains his greatest enemy, as Martin is still walking entirely too many batters. Still, he possesses a mid-90s fastball and power curve, both of which are plus pitches. With Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee getting up there in age, the Phils could be looking at a new wave of starters with Martin, Jesse Biddle, Trevor May and Julio Rodriguez.
Tommy Joseph, C, PHI - Joseph will also benefit from a change of scenery, as he no longer sits behind Buster Posey on the depth chart. Granted, Carlos Ruiz is having an All-Star season, but he will turn 34 in the offseason, and the Phils are clearly looking to reload their farm system after jettisoning both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Joseph has natural, raw power as witnessed by his 22 home runs and 95 RBI at High-A in 2011, largely as a 19-year-old. His plate discipline needs some work, as he has fanned at least 100 times in each of the first two seasons in the minors. Nevertheless, he is already at Double-A at a difficult position and at a relatively young age. Joseph could enter 2013 as the best hitting prospect in the Philadelphia system.
Arodys Vizcaino, P, CHC - Considered untouchable by the Braves just a season ago, Vizcaino was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery in March and fell in many prospect ranks. Still, he is just 21 with huge upside. Vizcaino throws mostly fastball-curve with great command and was working on a change-up prior to the injury. He fanned 100 batters in 97 innings in the minors in 2011 and appeared in 17 games out of the bullpen for the Braves as well. He'll likely be worked back as a starter for the Cubs, and if he can shake the injury bug, could be a nice add for the Cubbies in 2013 and beyond. High-risk, high-reward player.
Jacob Brigham, P, CHC - Dealt to Chicago in the Geovany Soto trade, Brigham has been having somewhat of a breakout season. Although he has cooled since a torrid start, the 24-year-old righty has a 116:46 K:BB ratio in 124 innings at Double-A. His 4.28 ERA isn't spectacular, but he has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his last six starts. He is prone to surrendering the long ball, though, allowing an astounding 19 home runs this season. Overall, Brigham does not profile as much more than an innings-eater and could end up in the bullpen.
Marc Krauss, OF, HOU - Krauss is an OBP machine, getting on base at a .416 clip in 2012 at Double-A. Although he is repeating this level and will turn 25 in the offseason, he has decent pop and only one lackluster minor-league season since 2009 under his belt. Furthermore, Houston is in full-on rebuilding mode with few players assured of roster spots. As a result, Krauss could get a chance to showcase his skills sooner rather than later. He is not an elite prospect by any means, though.
Bobby Borchering, 3B/OF, HOU - Borchering was likely deemed expendable with the ascension of Matt Davidson at third base for the Diamondbacks. A former No. 1 pick, Borchering has hit 20 home runs thus far in 2012 between High-A and Double-A after bashing 24 dingers in 2011. Strikeouts remain a concern for the 21-year-old, though, as he has fanned at least 128 times each of the last three seasons. Nevertheless, with Chris Johnson heading to Arizona, third base could be open for Borchering's taking, perhaps as early as 2013. Borchering's only competition will be Matt Dominguez, who also came to the Astros via trade earlier this season. Dominguez is all glove and not much bat.
Jean Segura, SS, MIL - The Angels gave up a lot to get Zack Greinke, the biggest chip being Segura, a speedy middle infielder who battled hamstring injuries in 2011 but has swiped 34 bags in 2012 between High-A and Double-A. The 22-year-old has also hit seven home runs and knocked in 42 runs, so he is not completely devoid of power. With a .294 average to boot, and Cody Random and Cesar Izturis manning short for the Brew Crew, Segura could be in the running for the starting position in 2013.
Ariel Pena, P, MIL - Pena was having a breakout season for the Halos before being dealt to the Brewers. The 23-year-old has posted a 3.24 ERA and 114:44 K:BB ratio in 119.1 innings at Double-A. Pena has always been a hard thrower with strikeout stuff (slider-sinker), but improved command has allowed him to take that next leap. Should he continue to limit base runners, a 2013 debut should be in order.
John Hellweg, P, MIL - Although he is viewed as the least valuable asset received in return for Greinke, Hellweg could still be an innings eater at the big-league level. A converted reliever, the 23-year-old's control has been suspect at best, as he has walked 60 batters while punching out 88 in 119.2 innings at Double-A. Miraculously, his ERA sits at just 3.38 despite a 1.38 WHIP. One has to imagine Hellweg's lack of control will eventually come back to bite him at the higher levels, but he has certainly shown moxie in pitching out of jams the last two seasons.
J.C. Sulbaran, P, KC - Sulbaran is a left-handed pitcher who looks the part of an ace, but hasn't been able to put it all together on the mound. Headed to the Royals in the Jonathan Broxton trade, he has fanned 111 batters in 104.2 innings at Double-A. Although he has clearly shown strikeout potential, Sulbaran is a fly-ball pitcher who has also walked 54 batters and allowed 101 hits, equating to a bloated 1.481 WHIP. Too many baserunners throughout his career have led to a 4.68 career ERA in the minors. Sulbaran has upside if he can perfect his command and repeat his delivery consistently, which has also drawn criticism from scouts.
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