In a predictable move, Jake Marisnick has been traded to the New York Mets. An Astros fixture in recent years, Marisnick’s superb defense has made him a valuable reserve for Houston, though his contact issues held him back from ever locking down a regular role. He’ll project to a similar role with the Mets, succeeding Juan Lagares, and should be able to continue similar levels of production. The emergence of Myles Straw had made Marisnick redundant for the Astros, who have very little room underneath the Competitive Balance Tax threshold and will save $3M as a result of this deal. The savings won’t be the only benefit, however, as two prospects will be joining the Astros organization in return. Here’s a look at what each brings to the table:
Blake Taylor, LHP, 24
A second round selection by the Pirates in 2013, Taylor is no stranger to moves, as he was acquired by the Mets originally in a trade for Ike Davis back in 2014. At the time, Taylor was seen as a projectability guy with an advanced curveball and sinking life on his fastball, per this piece from Marc Hulet. It has been a slow rise for Taylor since then, whose ERA has floated in the 4 range with largely poor strikeout and walk numbers- until last season. The southpaw seemed to figure some things out in 2019, as his walk numbers dropped considerably, resulting in much fewer runs allowed. He also pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2019, striking out 11 against 2 walks in 9 innings, with just 2 runs allowed. Here’s some video of Taylor from his time in Arizona:
Notably, 2019 was Taylor’s first season as a full-time reliever, which seems to suit him much better. Jacob Resnick, a Mets prospect writer, notes below that Taylor was up to 97 after moving to shorter stints, which is especially impressive from the left side.
I’m not losing sleep over Blake Taylor but he was touching 97 once he moved to the bullpen and has a high-spin breaking ball. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a role in Houston’s ‘pen before the end of the year.— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) December 5, 2019
Paired with his curveball, the improved heater should give Taylor the necessary tools to get outs in a major league bullpen if his command improvements stick. After spending much of 2019 at the Double-A level, look for Taylor to receive a difficult assignment to Round Rock in 2020, where he will have the opportunity to pitch his way into the Houston bullpen, which has been short on lefties in recent history.
Kenedy Corona, OF, 19
When news of this trade came across the wires and I took a look at Corona’s player page, the first thought to enter my mind was that he shares many similarities with Astros prospect Adonis Giron, who was similarly acquired in a small-scale trade with Miami for international spending money, which the Marlins used on the Mesa brothers. Corona is listed at 5’11”, 185 lbs., similar to Giron’s 5’10”, 190 lbs. frame. Neither was an especially notable international prospect- Corona signed very late in the process this April as a 19 year old- but put themselves on the map with flashy statistical performance in their rookie ball debuts, which apparently caught the Astros’ eye in both cases.
Making his affiliated debut in 2019, Corona hit .292/.382/.462 in 17 DSL games before the Mets deemed him ready for a promotion to the GCL, where he picked up the pace even further with a .311/.401/.483 line. In 59 games across those levels, Corona accumulated 5 homers and 19 steals in 24 attempts. With minimal video or reporting, it’s tough to know what to make of Corona, but he made a strong first impression and the early results indicate some level of offensive tools, particularly in the baserunning department. He will turn 20 in March, and the Astros’ recent track record with young performers suggests he’ll be agressively assigned to Tri-City in 2020, where he will square off against older competition, mostly from the 4-year college ranks.