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Down on the Farm: An AL West Trade Deadline Recap

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The trade deadline has come and gone, so now it is time to get to know the new faces in the AL West, and more specifically the new prospects.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, in our weekly AL West recap I promised a trade deadline recap for the AL West. I’m sure you know of Carlos Beltran, are aware of Jonathan Lucroy and have seen Rich Hill, Josh Reddick and Hector Santiago over the past year, but for every major leaguer that changed hands, prospects of varying pedigree went the other direction. So, with all five AL West teams making moves over the final days before the deadline it seems prudent to take a closer look at these lesser known pieces in an expanded down on the farm segment.

Texas Rangers

As has been discussed extensively around baseball, the Rangers put the AL West on notice by bolstering an already strong offense with the additions of Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy and adding depth to the bullpen with the addition of Jeremy Jeffress. All these moves didn’t come free though, so here is a breakdown of the prospects leaving the Rangers system:

Lewis Brinson:

The 22 year old center fielder is a bit of a buy low for the Brewers, as he has failed to live up to his 2015 breakout. In 2015, Brinson accumulated a slash line of .332/.403/.601 while collecting 20 HR and 18 SB across three levels. 2016 has not gone quite as planned though for Brinson, as he has been slowed down by a shoulder injury and struggled to a .233 average.  Brinson tools have never been in question, projecting as a plus runner and plus defender with a solid arm. The key here will be whether or not he can cut back on his strikeouts and tap into his power. If he can get back to his 2015 production and stay healthy Brinson has all tools to become a perennial All Star and a big piece of the next great Milwaukee team.

Luis Ortiz:

At age 20, Ortiz stands at 6’3" with the ability to routinely throw his fastball in the mid-90s. Ortiz complements his fastball with an above average slider that sits in the mid to low 80s. The key here, as it often is with young pitchers will be the development of a third pitch. For Ortiz that third pitch is a changeup that already projects as at least a league average offering. The 2014 first rounder has the potential to be a solid mid rotation starter for the Brewers, but also has the fastball slider combination that should play very well out of the bullpen if all else fails.

Dillon Tate:

Another former first round pick, Tate was the fourth overall selection in 2015. Tate has seen his value plummet over the past year, as he has struggled to a 5.12 ERA in 17 games in Single-A ball. Perhaps more notable than the statistical results is the fact that his velocity has dropped to the low 90s. Expected to move quickly through the system, things have not gone as planned for Tate, but he is still only 22 and barely a year removed from being drafted in the first round. The Yankees made a calculated gamble in acquiring Tate and for the cost of a couple of months of Carlos Beltran the Yankees have to feel good about the level of risk. Tate will transition back to the pen upon joining the Yankees organization where he will look to regain his form before heading into 2017 with a fresh start.

Nick Green, Erick Swanson and PTBNL:

Green was a seventh round pick in 2014 and profiles as a reliever going forward. In 2016, Green has a 2-2 record and a 4.98 ERA at the single-A level. Drafted in the eighth round in 2014, the 22 year old Swanson also projects to pitch out of the bullpen when he joins the Yankees organization. Finally, a PTBNL was included in the Lucroy deal. While the PTBNL will not be the centerpiece in the deal, it will most likely provide the Brewers with another high upside low minors lottery ticket.

Houston Astros

Up until the final hour it looked like the Astros were going to stand pat at the deadline, but at the last minute Lunhow spun off a couple of spare parts in Scott Feldman and Josh Fields. The return is not huge, but in Yordan Alvarez and Guadalupe Chavez the Astros added two young lottery tickets to the system.

Guadalupe Chavez:

Chavez was signed in July of 2014 following a transition from the outfield to the mound in Mexico. At 6’2" and 150 lbs, Chavez doesn’t have the big projectable body type you often look for in young pitchers, but the early results have been impressive nonetheless. In 2016, Chavez has pitched to a 1.69 ERA over six starts and 32 innings with Toronto’s rookie level squad. Further, he has accumulated 26 strikeouts to only 4 walks showing good command at the lower levels. At just 18 years old, Chavez has a long way to go to make it to the majors, as his secondary pitches still need work, but look for Chavez to put on some bulk in the coming years and slowly work his way up the minor league ladder.

Yordan Alvarez:

Just over a month ago, Alvarez signed with Dodgers for a cool $2 million as a last minute addition to the 2016 international class. Another teenager, at 18 years old Alvarez already stands at 6’5" 220 pounds and has been on the Cuban circuit for a number of years. An offensive minded prospect, Alvarez profiles to play primarily 1B or LF and could be a future candidate to take at bats as the DH as well. Already at a young age, Alvarez has shown solid bat control and strike zone management with scouts giving above average grades for power as well. Not a whole lot more can be gleaned from this addition, as Alvarez represents another lottery ticket being added to the system, but at only the cost of Josh Fields you have to like the risk/reward on this pickup.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners stayed away from the deadline day madness, as they completed their moves earlier in the period. Looking at the couple of days leading up to the deadline the big trade of note coming out of Seattle was a swap of starting pitcher Wade Miley with Baltimore for Ariel Miranda.

Ariel Miranda:

A 6’2" Cuban lefty, Miranda signed with Baltimore in 2015 and worked his way up to Double-A in his first campaign in the United States. At the age of 27, Miranda is not the typical minor league prospect, as there is not a whole lot of development left in his game. With that said the lefty has posted a 3.93 ERA in 2016 and shown glimpses of major league repertoire. Miranda’s arsenal includes a fastball that sits at 90-93 and climbs upward to 95 on occasion, a slider in the upper 70s and a low 80s changeup. Both of Miranda’s secondary pitches lack consistency, but he has looked strong in recent starts. Strong enough in fact that the Mariners have named Miranda as Thursday’s starter. As a welcome to the big leagues, Miranda will get the privilege of pitching to the vaunted Red Sox lineup at Fenway. Talk about a baptism by fire.

Oakland Athletics

No trade deadline would be complete without at least one trade from Billy Beane and the Athletics. Out of the playoff picture, Oakland had a number of interesting pieces available with the big names being Rich Hill and Josh Reddick. Beane found a new home for both players in one of the bigger trades of the day shipping Hill and Reddick to Los Angeles. In return the Dodgers sent pitchers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes to Oakland.

Jharel Cotton:

The 5’11" righty was drafted in the 20th round back in 2012 out of Eastern Carolina. Working his way through the system, Cotton finds himself just one step away from the majors posting a 4.90 ERA over 97 innings in Triple-A for 2016. In terms of his repertoire he throws a good change up that is complemented nicely by a fastball that has the ability to climb up to 95. Looking for a third pitch, his slider and curveball will ultimately determine whether he starts or shifts to the bullpen fulltime. Cotton should be up in Oakland in the near future as the Athletics look to see exactly what they have in the young right hander.

Frankie Montas:

Montas has bounced around since signing with the Red Sox back in 2009, seeing time in the minors for the White Sox, Dodgers and aforementioned Red Sox before joining the Oakland organization earlier this week. At 6’2" and 255, Montas has the tendency to impress with a mid-90s fastball that  can touch triple digits at its peak. The problem is that he has shown inconsistency in his secondary options, struggling with control of his slider and change-up. If he can reign in his slider and show more consistency, Montas has the potential to be a shutdown reliever at the back end of the bullpen thanks to a 9.3 K/9 during his minor league career.

Grant Holmes:

A first round pick in 2014 out of high school, Holmes is still quite young at 20 years old. During 2016, the young righty has posted a 4.02 ERA in the High-A California League, solid numbers considering the age and league. Looking at his pitching toolbox, Holmes has a low 90s fastball, a curveball and a change-up. As is expected of a young pitcher, his secondary offerings have lacked consistency, but he has shown plus capability with both. Holmes has a high ceiling going forward with the potential to be a workhorse number two if his control improves or to slide back in as an elite reliever thanks to his fastball change-up combination. Look for Holmes to take a couple of years to arrive in Oakland, but expect him to show up pretty high on their organizational prospect lists in the offseason.

Los  Angeles Angels

The Angels made a couple of minor moves as the calendar turned to August, shipping Joe Smith to Chicago and the combination of Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz to Minnesota. In return for Smith, the Angels received right handed pitcher Jesus Catillo. As a return from the Twins, the Angels received Ricky Nolasco, Alex Meyer and cash. Both Meyer and Nolasco have spent time in the majors, so we will focus on Castillo for this piece.

Jesus Castillo:

At 20 years old and in his first year at Low-A pitching for the Eugene Emeralds, Castillo is still quite a ways from the majors. With that said the 6’2" pitcher has held his own sporting a 3.27 ERA over 33 innings. Castillo doesn’t throw particularly hard, as his fastball sits in the low 90s. He does feature a solid change-up and serviceable curve, but both pitches still need work if Castillo is going to make an impact at the major league level. Even if he does make it, Castillo projects more as a back end starter or middle inning relief pitcher. All in all this seems like a reasonable return for a relief pitcher getting ready to hit free agency.