November 2007

Garza-Young trade

Hard as it is to admit, neither of those guys are prospects anymore, so I wanted to focus, as a preview of our blogging efforts at the Winter Meetings, the Minor Leaguers involved in the Rays-Twins trade. Here’s a scouting report on the two guys changing hands:

Jason Pridie, OF: Outstanding defensive center fielder, can go gap-to-gap. Has matured as a player. Learning to hit to all fields with some pop. Above-average runner, plus on the bases with ability to steal a base. Terrific makeup, always plays hard.

Eduardo Morlan, RHP: Performed as closer on club. Uses high three-quarters delivery. Power approach with fastball that sits 90-93 mph with movement. Power slider at 84 mph. Will occasionally show a changup. Pitches mostly off of fastball. Goes right after hitters. Quick delivery, good with runners on base. Strong frame, good competitor suited for late innings.

Phillies-Astros trade

Lisa chimes in with her breakdown of the Brad Lidge trade…

As always, whenever I hear about a trade the first thing I want to know is which Minor Leaguers/prospects got dealt. And while I know Michael Bourn
is no longer a Minor Leaguer, having spent all of 2007 up with the Phillies, he
still qualifies for me in that capacity because he is on the brink of really
having a breakthrough season … and I think this trade is setting him up for
just that.
 
So with all due respect to Brad Lidge, Geoff Geary and Eric
Bruntlett (a personal favorite of mine anyway), the remaining 60 percent of the
five-player deal between Houston and Philly, they’re already established in the
bigs so I’m going to just blog a little here about Bourn and third baseman
Michael Costanzo, the two new Astros.
 
First on Bourn. I think my husband coming into my study when he
heard about the trade and telling me "You lucky, lucky girl" sums up a lot about
what you can look for from him. I’ve had Bourn on my rotisserie league team for
three years, because of my strong belief that once he got his shot he’d tear it
up. And it looks like he’ll get it in 2008.
 
A fourth-round pick in 2003 out of the University of Houston, and
born and raised in Houston, I don’t have to tell you that he’s certainly going
to have a ready-made cheering section. But I think his style of play and
potential is going to make a lot more fans in a hurry.
 
He might have gotten that chance for a breakthrough season this year
were it not for a bad break — or a bad sprain. Kept on the big club out of
spring training as a fourth outfielder, it looked like he’d finally get his
chance when outfielder Shane Victorino injured his calf in the first inning of a
game July 29, giving way to Bourn. However, Bourn himself ended up spraining his
ankle in the same game chasing a foul ball and missed the next two months.
 
He still hit .277 on the season with 18 steals and was only caught
stealing once.
 
That last stat is a huge part of his package. There are few pure
burners who can not only put up the big stolen base numbers but also have such
an outstanding success rate. But that line was not an aberration. Since being
drafted, he’s stolen 163 bases in the Minors and been caught just 28 times, an
85 percent success rate!
 
But he’s not a one-trick pony. He brought a .285 average over four
seasons into 2007 and in the bigs this year he hit .312 against right-handers.
 
While most of Bourn’s time in the Majors this year was spent in left
field, his natural position is center and he’s already been anointed by Astros
manager Cecil Cooper as the club’s starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.
In fact, Cooper’s already given him a nickname "The Igniter."
 
Costanzo, on the other hand, is not going home like Bourn is. In
fact, when I first heard about the trade I wondered how he’d react. This is not
just a guy who’s been a Phillie since being drafted by them with their first
pick in 2005. This is a guy who not only is born and raised as a Phillies
Phanatic since childhood, his parents actually swaddled him in a Philadelphia
warmup jacket to bring him home from the hospital when he was born!

He grew up idolizing Mike Schmidt and after enjoying his best season to date as
a pro, hitting .270 with 27 homers and 86 RBIs at Double-A Reading (45 minutes
from his hometown of Springfield, Pa.), he looked to be one step away from
following in his idol’s footsteps.

 
However, the fact that it was former Phillies GM Ed Wade, now holding the
same position with Houston, who was instrumental in bringing him over in the
deal certainly softened the blow for him. He knows he’s not just some throw-in
prospect who might develop into a major leaguer. He was wanted, desired,
pursued, and that is a nice feeling for a player.
 
Prone to the strikeout, Costanzo fanned 157 times this season but when
you can hit for high enough average and project to 20-30 homers a year, the Ks
will come and they know that. He also hit .364 in August so clearly did not hit
the wall. The 24-year-old left-handed hitter is probably at least a year away
but should start at Triple-A Round Rock where fans in the Lone Star State can
get a glance at the future at the hot corner. — Lisa

Trade Central

The start of the trading season seemed as good a time as any to get the blog engine up and revving again. We’ve had two deals recently that involved some pretty good names from the Minor League side of things, and this is the place to come for the breakdown of deals from the prospect perspective. Today, I’m going to handle the Edgar Renteria trade. Tomorrow (Friday), Lisa will chime in with her thoughts on the Brad Lidge deal.

I guess I should call it the Gorkys Hernandez/Jair Jurrjens trade. I do think that this one will be a win-win for both teams, assuming Renteria produces well for the Tigers in the bigs. But the Braves got two legitimate prospects out of the deal, one for the right now and one for a little down the road.

Jurrjens could be ready to step right into the Braves rotation in April. At the least, he’ll go to Triple-A Richmond and be ready to get the call at any moment. He’s gotten dinged up some in the past and there is a little concern about durability. But that always comes with guys who are "under-sized." Sometimes it’s valid; sometimes it’s not. We’ll have to wait and see with Jurrjens, who’ll pitch at age 22 in 2008. He’s improved in leaps and bounds since signing out of Curacao (signed by new Pirates scouting director Greg Smith, by the way) and there’s really no telling what his ceiling might be. At the very least, he’s a solid member of a rotation. High-end, though, he could come closer to sitting at the front of a rotation once he fully realizes his potential.

As good as Jurrjens might be, Hernandez might end up being the bigger prize. Playing at age 19 in the Midwest League, Gorkys swiped 54 bases, went to the Futures Game and took home the league’s MVP honors as his West Michigan club went on to win its second straight Midwest League title. The amazing thing is he’s just getting started. He’ll grow into his body more and some power will come with it. He’s never going to be a huge HR guy, but he could develop into a mighty fine ledaoff hitter with gap power who can hit it out from time to time. The Tigers had Granderson and Maybin, so Gorkys was an extra part. The Braves don’t have a CF in the bigs right now, but it should be a whole lot of fun to watch Gorkys and Jordan Schafer develop and see which one pushes which to a corner or another team.

The one other thing the Renteria deal does is a kind of addition by subtraction thing. With Renteria gone, it’s assumed Yunel Escobar will become the every-day shortstop. Brent Lillibridge is also ready to contribute and could step in at short if Escobar can’t get it done. He also could be a utility guy and can even play some center field, a position he handled well in college a few years back.

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