June 5, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros catcher Chris Snyder (18) and relief pitcher Brett Myers (39) celebrate a victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. The Astros defeated the Cardinals 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Whoa. Jeff Luhnow is on a roll.
On Saturday, the Astros announced they had sent closer and former starting pitcher Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox for two minor league pitchers and a player to be named later. One of the pitchers is right-hander Matt Heidenreich, who made it to Double-A this year and had a 3.95 combined ERA in 18 starts between Winston-Salem and Birmingham.
Left-hander Blair Walters is also a starter who made it to High A Winston-Salem after being drafted last season in the 11th round. Walters has a 3.96 ERA in 18 starts between Low A and High A, with 93 strikeouts in 97 2/3 innings and 22 walks.
Walters was drafted last season out of Hawai'i, so it's safe to say Luhnow may have seen him while the Cardinals were scouting Kolten Wong last year. He's got a great strikeout rate, but will need to keep that up to have success at Lancaster, where he's been assigned after the trade.
The book on Walters is he's got good command, a 90 MPH sinker, a good slider he flashed in the pros and great makeup. He's expected to be a LOOGY at the least, but could stick in the rotation. That sinker should also help him in the wind tunnel that is the California League.
Heidenreich isn't the prospect that Walters is, and Walters is only a Grade C guy. But, he's got good marks on makeup and also flashes a sinker, change, slider combo. He doesn't get nearly the kind of strikeouts that Walters does, but he's moved up pretty steadily since being drafted out of high school by the White Sox. He kind of reminds me of Ross Seaton in that respect. Heidenreich will head to Corpus Christ.
No word on how much money Houston ate on Myers' contract, but judging by the return, I bet it's no more than half covered by Houston. EDIT: As Chris points out in the comments, Houston picks up all but $1 million of his contract. So, I was wrong. Oh, well.
The players are intriguing but none are in the same category as the guys Luhnow picked up from the Blue Jays. Still, I think each has a chance to make it up as a major league reliever at the very least in the near future.
This also means that Francisco Cordero will likely move into a closer's role for Houston, days after Houston said Myers would still be the man.
What do you think? Good move for Houston to get rid of Myers and take a flyer on two guys with good sinkers? Did you expect more?