More Traded Prospects
Jose Tabata, OF (Yankees to Pirates in Nady Trade)
Tabata doesn't turn 20 years old until August 12th, but he's seen his stock drop over the last year. Hitting .248/.320/.310 with 10 steals in 12 attempts for Double-A Trenton, he hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations generated by his early minor league performance. His power has not developed, and scouts are concerned about his body filling out enough that he loses his speed. On the other hand, Tabata is still very, very young, and perhaps a change of organization scenery can put a charge back into his career. It will be interesting to see how the Pirates handle him, if they push him quickly or if they are more cautious.
Jon Meloan, RHP (Dodgers to Indians in Blake Trade)
24-years-old, Meloan was a fifth round pick in 2005 from the University of Arizona. He was a reliever in the lower minors and a very successful one, but converted to the rotation this year at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he is 5-10, 4.97 with a 99:60 K:BB in 105 innings, 119 hits allowed. Meloan has a low-90s fastball, an excellent slider, and a curveball and changeup that have their strong moments. He needs to sharpen his control, and could help the Tribe in either a starting or relief role. Some scouts worry that his delivery could result in too much elbow stress, but it hasn't been a problem as a pro.
Carlos Santana, C (Dodgers to Indians in Blake Trade)
At age 22, Santana is having a breakthrough season, hitting .318/.424/.563 with 14 homers, 66 walks, and 59 strikeouts in 343 at-bats for Class A Inland Empire in the California League. He's a bit raw defensively, but is a fine athlete with a strong arm and has improved over the last year. With the bat, he shows excellent plate discipline with a low strikeout rate and above average power. He's a big under the radar as a prospect, and we need to see how things pan out at higher levels, but he has impressive potential.
Dan McCutchen, RHP (Yankees to Pirates in Nady Trade)
McCutchen was drafted by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2006 draft, from the University of Oklahoma. A 25-year-old right-hander, McCutchen's fastball is average when used as a starter, 88-90 MPH, but he throws harder when used in relief. His curveball is excellent, and he's developed a decent changeup. McCutchen was 4-3, 2.55 in nine starts for Double-A Trenton to begin '08, then went 4-6, 3.58 in 11 starts after being promoted to Triple-A Scranton, with a combined 110:29 K:BB ratio in 123 innings. He throws strikes and has excellent command, projecting as a fourth/fifth starter or strong reliever. His biggest problem is a pronounced fly ball tendency that leads to excessive gopher balls at times.
Ross Ohlendorf, RHP (Yankees to Pirates in Nady Trade)
Ohlendorf was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fourth round in 2004, out of Princeton. He was traded to the Yankees in the Randy Johnson trade, and has performed erratically for New York, though flashing promise. At his best he has a 93-96 MPH fastball with a hard slider, though at times both his velocity and command are inconsistent. He posted a 6.53 ERA in 25 games of relief for the Yankees this year, with a 36:19 K:BB in 40 innings but with 50 hits allowed. He was moved to the rotation after being sent back to Triple-A and had a 4.03 ERA with a 25:5 K:BB in 22 innings for Scranton. It remains to be seen how the Pirates will use him, but he has an impressive ceiling if he can gain more consistency.
Luis Perdomo, RHP (Indians to Cardinals for Anthony Reyes)
Perdomo is a 24-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic, signed by the Indians in 2003. He emerged as a prospect in '07 by posting a 3.27 ERA and 81:26 K:BB ratio for Lake County in the South Atlantic League, with 10 saves and just 43 hits allowed in 66 innings. He was even better this year, posting 18 saves with a 0.92 ERA and a 43:17 K:BB in 39 innings for Kinston in the Carolina League, then a 3.52 ERA with a 17:7 K:BB in 15 innings for Double-A Akron. Although not physically imposing at 6-0, 170, Perdomo can hit 93-95 MPH with his fastball and has an excellent slider. If he continues to throw strikes, he will contribute in a major league bullpen.
Stephen Marek, RHP (Angels to Braves in Teixeira/Kotchman Trade)
A 24-year-old right-hander, Marek was drafted by the Angels in the 40th round in 2004, then signed as a draft-and-follow pick in the spring of '05 after pitching for San Jacinto CC in Texas. A starter in the low minors, Marek converted to relief this year at Double-A Arkansas and pitched reasonably well, going 2-6 but with a 3.66 ERA and a 57:21 K:BB in 47 innings, with 39 hits allowed. His fastball is faster in relief, 92-94 MPH as opposed to 88-92 as a starter, and he has a fine curveball. His control still needs work, and his changeup has never really come around. He could be an impressive reliever with sharper command.
The 22-year-old Hernandez was originally signed by the Mets as a third round pick in 2004, out of high school in Miami. He was traded to the Marlins as part of the 2005 Paul LoDuca trade. He had solid years in '06 and '07, but was unable to replicate this in Triple-A, with a 7.24 ERA and 94 hits allowed in 65 innings for Albuquerque this year. He was recently sent back to Double-A to regain his confidence, going 3-0, 4.30 with a 17:4 K:BB in his first four starts, 23 innings for Carolina. Hernandez's best pitch is a strong curveball, but his fastball has leveled out as an average pitch and he was lit up against advanced hitting, though the poor pitching environment at Albuquerque did not help. He still has a chance to be an inning-eating starter, but his stock has dropped.
Andy LaRoche, 3B (Dodgers to Pirates in Ramirez/Bay Trade)
LaRoche was a 39th round pick as a draft-and-follow choice in 2003, from Grayson County CC in Texas. His minor league career has been marked by excellent strike zone judgment, flashes of strong power, reasonable defensive skills, and poorly-timed injuries. He was hitting just .203/.319/.322 in 27 games for the Dodgers this year, though with 10 walks and seven strikeouts against just 59 at-bats. He finally gets a chance to play in Pittsburgh, although his window is not unlimited, giving the pending arrival of 2008 draftee Pedro Alvarez sometime next year or in 2010. Getting a fresh start in a new organization can only help LaRoche, assuming he can avoid further injury problems.
Bryan Morris, RHP (Dodgers to Pirates in Ramirez/Bay Trade)
Morris is a 21-year-old right-hander, drafted by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2006 draft out of Motlow State CC in Tennessee. He missed all of 2007 with Tommy John surgery, but has returned healthy and effective in 2008, posting a 3.20 ERA with a 72:31 K:BB in 82 innings for Great Lakes in the Midwest League. At his best, Morris has a 93-95 MPH fastball and a strong curveball, but his slider and changeup are still in the developmental stages and his command needs work. His upside is impressive, but he will need more time to develop and won't reach the majors any time soon.
Brandon Moss, OF (Red Sox to Pirates in Ramirez/Bay Trade)
Moss was drafted by the Red Sox in the eight round of the 2002 draft, out of high school in Georgia. He made steady progress through the farm system, showing solid power but struggling with strikeouts at times. Blocked in Boston, he has played well in limited major league action, hitting .291/.348/.456 in 103 major league at-bats. Based on the totality of his track record, and the fact that he has large platoon splits, he's probably more of a .270/.330/.450 hitter in full playing time. Moss is sharp defensively at the outfield corners and first base, and would make an excellent platoon player.
Craig Hansen, RHP (Red Sox to Pirates in Ramirez/Bay Deal)
A first round pick out of St. John's in 2005, the 24-year-old Hansen has been a major disappointment in the big leagues. He has done well in Triple-A this year, but has continued to struggle with his command in the Show, posting a 5.58 ERA with a 25:23 K:BB ratio in 31 innings for Boston. At his best, his fastball hits 94-95 MPH with sinking action, but he's had trouble with the consistency of his slider. It's a plus pitch when going good, but mechanical and command problems have prevented him from living up to the potential he showed in college. Perhaps the change of scenery will give Hansen a fresh start. The first sign of improvement would be a better K:BB mark.
Article first appeared 8/1/08