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Astros Trade Deadline Prospect Return Analysis

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Mar 3, 2012; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Marc Krauss (66) runs to first during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Mar 3, 2012; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Marc Krauss (66) runs to first during the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

The trade deadline has come and gone without any direct Astros excitement (except for the possibility of Carlos Lee getting released). Most of the action has been during the week or so leading up to the deadline where we saw the Astros sell off J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, David Carpenter, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, and Chris Johnson. There were fifteen players added, two of which are with the Astros in Francisco Cordero and Ben Francisco while there are two who have yet to be named.

There is no doubt that these four trades have brought in significant talent to the system, even if they are not extremely high end prospects. The players provide a lot of depth and at least some intrigue for several of the teams.

The two who have yet to be named are hard to guess on as the White Sox have had all of their prospects from last years draft already signed. It's likely the player whom Jeff Luhnow says is a significant piece to the trade is on the DL or there is a list of attractive prospects to choose from that they are scouting a little more deeply. The PTBNL from Toronto is unlikely to be significant, but Domingo Santana was too.

After the jump, I'm going to dive into all eleven prospect we received and I included an excerpt from John Sickels over at fellow SB Nation blog, Minor League Ball.

Plus, as an added bonus due to popular demand on Twitter...a ranking of the eleven prospects!

Note: Stats with Astros do not all reflect last night games. Some might.

Toronto Blue Jays

Joe Musgrove RHP

Arguably the best prospect from the trade, he's a young (19) power arm that some reports stated he can crank his fastball up to 98 MPH. He works primarily low to mid 90's with a breaking ball that's been described as a hammer curve. At 6'5, 230 pounds, he has the frame to be a workhorse starter when it's all said and done. His delivery is easy looks to be manageable and nothing that will hold him back. John Sickels had this to say at the time of the draft:

Musgrove was a supplemental first round pick in 2011, from high school in El Cajon, California. A 6-5, 230 pound right-hander, at age 19 he features a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a slider, a curveball, and a splitter he uses in changeup situations. He has a low-effort delivery and a body that looks like that of a workhorse starter. He has pitched just 32.2 innings in pro ball, all in rookie ball, but he's performed well, with a 3.31 ERA and a 27/5 K/BB with 24 hits allowed. He is the best prospect in the trade, but several years away from the majors.

The part about the splitter is interesting. I've seen it called a changeup, and that is something the Astros have pushed for young starters over the past several years.

This season, he pitched in two games prior to the trade in which he through eight innings in two games while allowing just five hits for one run while walking none and striking out nine.

Asher Wojciechowski RHP

Wojo would have been a crown jewel a year ago, or even at the time of the 2010 draft. Back then, he pitched in the mid-90's but now, in his age 23 season, drops as low as 89 and cranks it to the mid-90's on occasion. While that combined with a slider and a changeup make for an interesting back of the rotation to even a #3 starter make him a good prospect, the hope is that his velocity returns. He stands 6'4 and weighs 235, so he has a similar frame as Musgrove and project to be similar pitcher. John Sickels wrote this:

Woj was a supplemental first round pick in 2010 from The Citadel. He had an erratic season in 2011 for High-A Dunedin (4.70 ERA, with 156 hits allowed in 130 innings but a solid 96/31 K/BB ratio). 2012 has seen a better performance in a return engagement to the Florida State League (3.57 ERA, 76/22 K/BB in 93 innings, 91 hits), though as a league-repeater with college experience, improvement should have been expected. Another big-body right-hander at 6-4, 235, the 23-year-old has lost a bit of velocity since college, now at 89-92, cutting his projection from rotation anchor to possible four/five starter or bullpen work. He mixes in a slider and changeup.

Since the trade, he owns a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings while striking out 11 and walking 6. He's given up 7 hits in his two starts for Corpus Christi.

David Rollins LHP

This 22 year old lefty provides an interesting LHP to a system barren of them. He won't light up the radar gun with his average fastball, but he can still get outs with above-average secondary offerings (slider and changeup). He's not really a throw-in since a lefty with decent stuff will get as many opportunities as you can imagine, but he could be called a lottery ticket. He's not a big guy, nor a small guy either at 6'1, 195.

Rollins was a 24th round pick in 2011 from San Jacinto North Community College in Texas. A 6-1, 195 pound lefty, the 21-year-old is having a good year for Lansing, going 6-1, 2.78 ERA in 78 innings with a 75/36 K/BB and 64 hits allowed. He has an average velocity fastball, but his slider and changeup are solid and he's been effective at the lower levels of the system. He's quite tough on lefties (.189 average this year) and projects as a LOOGY if starting doesn't work out at higher levels. He was placed on the disabled list after his last start with an undisclosed injury.

In his one start since being assigned to Lexington, he didn't make it out of the second inning as he had already given up three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out one.

Carlos Perez C

He's a player we can say that was possibly targeted to be included because it was a position the Blue Jays have several prospects at and the Astros don't. Perez has been considered a high end catching prospect in the past but has seen his stock drop behind other catchers in the Blue Jays system as his development slowed and Travis d'Arnaud has developed. Reports are that his skills behind the plate are finally catching up to his tools for the position. So, while his stock was low to start the season, it could be much higher now. One thing that will catch your eye is that he has some speed for a catcher as he has hit five triples this season.

Perez is a 21-year-old catcher from Venezuela. Considered one of the top prospects in the system a couple of years ago, he's had a pair of seasons in the Midwest League, hitting .256/.320/.355 for Lansing last year and .275/.358/.447 this year, showing more pop in '12. He has good defensive tools including impressive mobility and arm strength, although he is still ironing out the fine points of his receiving footwork and throwing. He had fallen behind Travis d'Arnaud and A.J. Jimenez on the organization catching chart, making him an expendable asset.

With the trade, he was given a promotion from the Low-A Midwest League to Lancaster in High-A. In his his four games at Lancaster, he has a .308/.400/.385 line which includes a double, two walks, and three strikeouts. He has also flashed his arm some as he's thrown out 5 of 14 base-stealers.

Chicago White Sox

Blair Walters LHP

Adding more lefty's to the system in order to improve a barren farm. Walters has a lot of work to do to maintain his stock as a starter as neither of his secondary offerings are up to par currently with his 89-92 fastball with good movement. The slider/cutter doesn't have a lot of movement but can keep hitters honest and the changeup is coming along fairly well. His future is likely as a LOOGY but will be given some chances since he's just in his age 22 season. However, he doesn't really have the frame of a typical starter at just 6'0, 200 pounds

Walters is a 6-0, 200 pound lefty, born November 8, 1989. Drafted in the 11th round from the University of Hawaii in 2011, he was a reliever in college due to mediocre secondary pitches, but the White Sox were developing him as a starter. He posted a 2.88 ERA with a 69/18 K/BB in 72 innings for Low-A Kannapolis this spring, followed by a 7.01 ERA with a 24/4 K/BB in 26 innings for High-A Winston-Salem, with 38 hits and 20 runs allowed.

Walters has an 89-92 MPH fastball that moves well. He uses a breaking ball with slider/cutter action, and is working to develop his changeup, which is currently inconsistent. He throws strikes and has a good feel for pitching, but still needs to show his secondary pitches will off-set his fastball successfully at higher levels. He could be a back-end-rotation starter or a reliever.

In just one start for Lancaster, he's already been introduced to the difficulties. He gave up ten hits and walked one which resulted in nine earned runs. He did strike out two in outing that lasted 2 1/3 innings.

Matthew Heidenreich RHP

He's not a big prospect, but the 21 year old currently stands as the top prospect from this trade (until we find out who the PTBNL is) because of his advancement to AA and low-90's fastball. He is still raw, but pitchers that stand 6'5, 185 take a little while to grow into their long lanky frames. He has made progress with his mechanics but they still need refinement and it will come when his body develops. Even if he doesn't develop his secondary offerings enough, his high 3/4 to over the top delivery gives his a great downward plane and allows him to induce a lot of groundballs that could make him an asset in the bull pen.

Heidenreich is a 6-5, 185 pound right-hander, born January 17, 1991. A fourth round pick in 2009 from high school in Lake Elsinore, California, he was considered your basic raw arm when drafted, with a fastball in the low-90s but needing help and time to refine his below-average breaking stuff and inconsistent mechanics.He has made progress in both areas.

He began 2012 with High-A Winston-Salem, going 8-2, 3.57 with a 62/13 K/BB in 93 innings, which earned him a promotion to Double-A. With Birmingham, he is 1-2, 5.89 in 18 innings with a 9/5 K/BB and 27 hits allowed. He has developed a slider and changeup to go with his fastball, giving him a chance as a fourth starter or perhaps a reliever.

Heidenreich has made one start for the Hooks since the trade, and it was an impressive one. He allowed just one run on five hits and one walk in his eight inning debut. He also struck out seven in that outing.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Robbie Grossman OF

In this trade, there is no debate...he IS the jewel of the trade. He is versatile enough to play all three OF positions as he has fairly good range for CF and an arm that is adequate to play RF. He's not a burner so he won't put up very high stolen base numbers, despite stealing his fair share up to this point. He has struggled with his SB% this season pretty badly and puts some question marks on his ability on the paths. But, the good news is that he has recovered from a hamate injury and he's been wreckin shop since. He best asset though is that he can draw walks with the best of them (Nolan Fontana excluded).

Grossman is a 6-0, 205 pound switch-hitter, born September 16, 1989. He's lost some athleticism since high school and his tools are now considered just average to slightly above, but he's very patient and has a good feel for the strike zone. He won't be a huge power hitter, but he should provide OBP with gap power, along with the ability to play all three outfield positions.

Colton Cain LHP

Here is the trade sleeper. This guy is 21 in High-A and a lefty with the potential to have a very good fastball. The problem is that he doesn't have that fastball that got him drafted anymore. The thick 6'3 255 frame allowed his fastball to reach mid-90's coming out of HS but is currently high 80's to low 90's now and continues to struggle to repeat his mechanics. The good news is that he has the talent to get it back, he's just a work in progress. He also features a curveball and changeup that are continuing to develop. I like his upside a little more than most, primarily because I see his velocity returning.

Cain is a 6-3, 225 pound lefty, born February 5th, 1991. His fastball varies between 88 and 93 MPH, and he uses a curveball and changeup as his secondary pitches. He generally throws strikes, but his command within the strike zone is variable, and he can get hit hard if his location is off. Some scouts consider him mildly disappointing, but he's only 21 and still has a shot at becoming a number three or four starter with further refinement. If he had gone to college, 2012 would have been his draft year, so some perspective is necessary.

Cain has not appeared for Lancaster yet.

Rudy Owens LHP

If you want to label him as anything, label him as the safety net as he is the next guy who will be called up to the Astros rotation. I honestly thought he was going go get the call to replace Wandy Rodriguez instead of Armando Galarraga. He's ready, and there's not much more to say. He has some similarities to J.A. Happ in that he is a low 90's guy that can even dip into the 80's, but tends to pitch higher in the zone. If he can keep it down, he'll be a lot more successful. Not Wandy successful as his curveball is not on the same level. He has a good frame and will be able to eat plenty of innings if he can be fairly successful.

Owens is a 6-3, 230 pound left, born December 18, 1987. At his best, he works in the low-90s, but if his mechanics are off, that will dip into the 80s. A shoulder problem last year didn't help matters, but he's been healthy in '12 and it shows in his performance. He mixes in a curveball and changeup, and while none of his offerings are outstanding, when his command is on he is the kind of pitcher who gives the hitter a comfortable 0-for-4. He projects as a number four starter as long as his command stays strong. His biggest flaw is a tendency to leave mistake pitches too high in the strike zone, resulting in home runs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Marc Krauss OF/1B

Lots of strikeouts, lots of walks, lots of home runs. That's what you're going to get with this guy. He can only play LF and 1B and to be honest, not very well. He has a decent arm but he's not mobile or fast. The good news is that we are going to need players who can provide value with the bat only starting next year. He's that kind of player if he doesn't end up being a platoon player which is possible since he struggles against lefty's. His time to figure it out is dwindling since he's already 24 and turns 25 later this year after the season ends.

Krauss is a 6-2, 235 pound left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born October 5th, 1987. He is considered a below average athlete, limited defensively to left field or first base by lack of speed and a mediocre arm. His power is well-regarded but he's somewhat streaky and occasionally has issues with left-handed pitching. Many scouts see Krauss as a platoon bat going forward, albeit one who can be productive due to his power and patience.

Krauss played last night and hit a HR in his first at-bat.

Bobby Borchering 3B

He's just 21 and has split time between High-A and AA this season. He was drafted as a 3B but played both 3B and 1B last season while playing RF and LF this season. The Astros are set on having him return to 3B since that is a position of relative weakness with prospects in the lower levels and AAA only since Jonathan Meyer isn't showing development at the plate. His defense in RF is lacking but RF and 3B can show off his arm the best. He is similar to Krauss in that he is all power and strikeouts. The difference is that he doesn't draw the walks Krauss does and he's better than Krauss defensively.

Borchering is a 6-3, 200 pound switch-hitter, born October 25, 1990. His best tool (as mentioned) is power, but his pure hitting skills have been less effective than anticipated when he was in high school, and bringing the strike zone under control has been a challenge. He also has issues on defense. He has a good arm, but the Diamondbacks gave up on him as a third baseman due to poor range and excessive errors. His arm works well in right field, but his below average speed makes him a mediocre defensive outfielder.

He has started one game and pinch hit in another for a line of 1-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.

My Rankings

  1. Robbie Grossman-Potential average CF defense with a solid bat capable of producing above-average on-base abilities and average power. Maybe more? Safe bet. Video B
  2. Joe Musgrove-I see him as a #2-3 starter as his upside but is a gamble. I like his upside the most. Video B-
  3. Asher Wojociechowski-Debated switching him and Musgrove because I like his arm and he's a safer bet. Video B-
  4. Carlos Perez-I'm buying his defense and that will carry him to the majors, his bat could be above average for the position. Video B-
  5. Rudy Owens-He's ready for the majors so his floor is as high as it can get. The safety of him as a prospect elevates his stock. Video C+
  6. Bobby Borchering-Age and power are on his side since he's in AA, but it's still a rough go of it for him to improve his contact. Video C+
  7. Colton Cain-I like his upside and see it as similar to Wojo and Musgrove, but more things have to break right for him. I can see him all the way to 5 on this list. Video C+
  8. Marc Krauss-Can't ignore the power...but can't ignore the strikeouts either Video C/C+
  9. Matt Heidenreich-Stuff doesn't wow you and doesn't have a lot of upside. I do like the plane on his fastball a lot though. Considered putting him over Krauss. Video (Very old) C/C+
  10. David Rollins-I like his off-speed stuff more than Walters, and barely edged him out. Video C
  11. Blair Walters-Rollins and Walters are really interchangeable. C