Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels second baseman Taylor Lindsey against the West during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Before we get into the meat of the article, I just want to pat myself on the back and say I turned 21 last night, so I’ve been having a lot of “weekend coffee” to get prepared for this post.
The Padres made moves while I was celebrating my first ever taste of the Devil’s water, maybe, but it was a big one; trading closer Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in California on the West Coast of the United States of America.
The problem is the Halos are notorious for having basically no good prospects, which has hampered their attempts to buy heavy to catalyze their team and push for the division lead. But just because the system as a whole isn’t exactly impressive, there are still plenty of interesting players. Fortunately, our mess of a GM situation managed to pry a few of those away, strengthening our already awesome farm system.
Easily the most intriguing prospect for me, I’ve been following him closely for over a year. He slashed a 274/339/441 line with a 119 wRC+ while mashing 17 bombs and struck out just 16% of the time. Strikeout rate is one of the best indicators of future success, at least as a peripheral, and he’s improved that again this year down to a miniscule 13%. His bat has struggles a little posting just a 88 wRC+ so far, but as a 22 year old in Triple A, he’s still young with plenty of time to develop.
He’s also maintained the power breakout, hitting eight already and on pace to match last year’s number. There’s no rush to put him in at second soon, so he should have plenty of time in the minors to hone his craft.
His mechanics are awkward at the plate, and he relies heavily on timing his swing well. He uncoils violently through it, which could lead to some trouble on off-speed offerings although he hasn’t had any yet. He’s prone to some serious cold stretches where his swing is hurting him at the plate, but the hot stretches are enough to not force the team to adjust his mechanics.
As he continues to get repetitions and learns his swing better, consistency will come and we could have a good hitter (280 average) with serious power up the middle (20-25 dingers). And he defense? Ranked best in the Texas League by opposing managers.
A 20 year old shortstop in High A with four out of five tools, and scouts project him to grow into the missing power? Sign me up!
Rondon flashes elite defense thanks to above average speed and strong baseball instincts, which help his value also play up on the basepaths.
But great fielders in the minors are a dime a dozen (well, maybe a little more but they’re more common than you would think) and what really sets Rondon apart from them is his amazing contact ability. He sees the ball well out of the pitcher’s hand and sprays it all over the field. He also shows a mature approach at the plate, with just a 15% strikeout rate. That’s helped him lead to his .327 batting average.
He’s projected to grow into some power, as he flashes the proper mechanics and swing plane to do so. He will never have Tulo power, but 15 isn’t out of reach for him. In a nutshell, the Angels just gave us their double play combo of the future, and both look exciting. Rondon could end up with a .300 average with double digit homers, more than enough to get him on a few All-Star Games.
Minor league relievers don’t have a great track record in the majors, as most of the best major league bullpen arms are failed starters. But Alvarez is the kind of relief prospect to make you re-think that stance. He’s a little old for the level, 23 in Double A, but his stats are off the charts awesome. Just a 0.33 ERA and 1.67 FIP through 21 relief appearances and a ridiculous 38% strikeout rate. He does have some control issues, giving up 10% free passes, so that’s something that we will have to work on with him.
Alvarez sets up hitters with a mid to high 90s fastball from a low three-quarters arm slot that can be borderline sidearm at times. His slider is his only other pitch, hence the reason he’s a reliever, and had never been a good pitch until this season.
Thrown with inconsistencies, he finally corralled it this year and developed it into a wipeout offering. Alvarez should be able to handle high leverage spots, potentially a closer role in the future. The command is there on his pitches, but his control needs to improve. Otherwise he may just be a dominant set up man, which is still extremely valuable.
There’s really not a lot to be said about Morris. He’s more of a lottery ticket prospect, and that’s if you play a low payout lottery (which is really dumb so don’t do that). He has good control and mechanics, which is a good start for pitching prospect. He throws a decent, low 90s fastball, but the lack of anything near an average off-speed offering severely limits his ceiling for now.
His future doesn’t look too bright, maybe a swing man who spends time with many organizations. But if he develops some off-speed pitches, he has the remaining skill set to become a very decent back of the rotation arm. Morris is by far the least interesting, but could still add good value in San Diego.
I’ll be honest, I really am impressed by the haul we got. I’ve spilled more than my fair share of virtual ink on my displeasure of the state of our front office, but they pulled off what looks like could be a heist in a few years.
This is the prototypical rebuild trade; a “safe” hitter close to the majors, a more high risk hitter who also shows more upside, a lights out pitcher with some control issues and a lottery pick to round it all off. There is no doubt in my mind we became better as an organization with this deal, and you should be ecstatic. To get all this for le “proven closer?”
I do that every day of the week, and every week of the year.