Top 10 Trade Deadline Prospects

July 31, 2011

The 2011 MLB Trade Deadline was a frenzy of activity. A few big league All-Stars changed hands. Some trades made sense for everyone involved, while others would have gotten you kicked out of a fantasy league. With much virtual ink already spilt on what the Carlos Beltran's/Ubaldo Jimenez's of the world will mean for their new team, let us shift our attention to the minor league talent involved in deadline deals. Here are the Top 10 prospects who got dealt.

10) Francisco Martinez 3B: Seattle Mariners part of a package for Doug Fister

Martinez doesn't project as a star, but Seattle didn't exactly part with a star to get him. A pretty solid athlete with the range and arm strength to be a valuable defender at the hot corner, Martinez has a well-rounded tool set and youth on his side. While the Eastern League favors hitters and he played his games in a hitter's park, Martinez posted a .282/.319/.405 triple lash line as a 20-year-old in Double-A. He's still raw, but the 2010 Arizona Fall League participant has an outside shot to turn into a solid-everyday starting third baseman.

9) Trayvon Robinson OF: Seattle Mariners part of the three-team deal for Eric Bedard

Robinson went from the Dodgers to Seattle as part of a surprising, and somewhat confusing, three-team deal that sent Eric Bedard to Boston. Robinson was the best prospect involved in the swap. An excellent athlete, he can cause havoc on the base paths. Despite his range, Robinson's poor throwing arm limits his defensive value and could result in left field being his long-term home. A switch-hitter, he has found his power stroke this year, knocking 26 home runs for the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate and increasing his isolated power to a robust .271 (his previous career high was .194 in A-ball). Unfortunately, that new-found power has come at the price of contact. Never an elite contact hitter, Robinson has struck out 29.1% of the time this year. Despite producing well at Triple-A, he is not yet ready for the big leagues. He's still raw and big league pitchers would exploit the holes in his swing. But he's only 23 years old and has shown solid growth over the past couple of years. Robinson is still risky, and might never develop into a quality big-league hitter, but he has impressive upside as an everyday outfielder with power and speed. He's a worthy gamble for the offensively starved Mariners. Minimizing risk in trading Robinson for a back-up catcher and a couple middling relief prospects makes little sense for the Dodgers. 

8) Joe Wieland SP: San Diego Padres part of the Mike Adams deal

Wieland's last start for Texas was a no-hitter against San Antonio, San Diego's Double-A affiliate. A fourth-round pick 2008 out of high school in Reno, Nevada -- home to the world's greatest fake police force -- Wieland's been very solid as a pro. Standing 6-foot-3, 180 pounds he has what scouts lovingly refer to as the prototypical ''pitcher's frame.'' Wieland has above-average arm strength but works mostly off of his two-seam fastball, which sits 88-91 MPH with well-above-average movement. Wieland is an aggressive strike-thrower -- he has yet to walk more than 6.5% of batters in any minor league stop -- who compliments his fastball with a potentially above-average curveball. He continues to work on a changeup, but it is currently below-average. Wieland projects as a mid-rotation innings-eater who'll find PETCO and National League opposition more to his liking than Arlington. 

7) Robbie Erlin SP: San Diego Padres part of the Mike Adams deal

Erlin and Wieland will likely always be tied together, since they come to San Diego in the same deal and have somewhat similar profiles. A sub-6-foot lefty, Erlin doesn't look as imposing on the mound as Wieland but he is more advanced in the art of pitching. His fastball only has average velocity but plays up a bit thanks to above-average movement and command. Erlin spins a 75-78 MPH curveball which project comfortably as above-average, maybe plus. His changeup gives him a third above-average offering to go along with well-above-average command. Wieland has a better arm strength than Erlin, but Erlin has a better third pitch which is the main reason I give Erlin the edge here. He lacks star upside, but Erlin has a very high floor for a 21-year-old pitcher and has a pretty good shot at being a quality No. 3 starter. 

6) Alex White SP: Colorado Rockies part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade

One of two high profile first-round former college hurlers the Tribe parted ways with to acquire the market's best starter, White is a guy I've been pretty bearish on  since his days at the University of North Carolina. I see poor command, lack of a quality third pitch and red flags in his mechanics that make him a likely bet to spend the bulk of his career in the bullpen. That's not to say White is totally without value. He's big-league-ready with plus arm strength and excellent groundball rates. White works with the unusual fastball/splitter combo and should post good strikeout and groundball rates, so Coors Field shouldn't bother him too much. If you're more bullish on White than I am, you see a No. 3 guy, maybe a little better if the command and slider improve. If not, you see a long-term reliever who could be an above-average set-up man or second division closer in a peak year but is likely to battle injuries. 

5) Zach Stewart SP: Chicago White Sox for Edwin Jackson

Toronto swung Stewart to the White Sox in exchange for Jackson, then used Jackson as to distract St. Louis as they stole Colby Rasmus.

**Quick tanget on that trade: Man, what a great move for the Blue Jays! Alex Anthopoulos will be the No. 1 pick in all fantasy GM drafts next spring. With Rasmus and Yunel Escobar I believe Anthopoulos has found the new market inefficiency: jerks. Not to say that Rasmus and/or Escobar are actually jerks, but they're talented/young/cost-controlled players with impressive upside who's on-field value was undervalued by their former clubs due largely to off-field matters. 'Jerks' sounds a lot better than that. What it lacks in nuance it makes up for in catchiness. I like it. I'm sticking with it. It's not always choir boys who win. Give me talent. Tangent over, I now return you to your regularly scheduled prospect list.**

Stewart works in the low-90's with his sinking-fastball and has an above-average slider. His drew solid reviews for the improvement in his changeup at Double-A but has used it sparingly in his brief big league stay. If the improvement in his change makes its way to mound on the South Side, Stewart ought to be a very solid No. 3 starter and worm-burner. 

4) Jarred Cosart SP: Houston Astros part of package for Hunter Pence

Cosart, arguably, has the best raw stuff of any pitcher traded at this year's deadline. His fastball can run into the 97-99 MPH range but he works more in the 93-95 MPH range with a devastating curve. Cosart has impressed everyone who's caught a glimpse of him this year and was a member of the Future Game where showed his electric stuff. However, his production has been pretty mediocre this year (only striking out 17.1% of High-A hitters and walking 9.3%). Some of that can be attributed to the fact that Costart has been deliberately working on his changeup, but it's still a well-below-average pitch. Worse, Cosart has a high effort delivery with significant timing issues and missed the second half of 2010 with elbow discomfort. It's a special arm, but I'd be shocked if held up to the rigors of being a durable starter. 

3) Jonathan Singleton 1B: Houston Astros part of package for Hunter Pence

Singleton is a big, strong, imposing figure in the batter's box who set the prospect world atwitter with an outrageous start to his 2010 season. While Singleton has cooled off slightly since then, he hasn't been too shabby as the .282/.385/.411 line he currently boasts can attest. Listed 6-foot-2, 215 pounds Singleton is every bit of that, if not more, and has the thick, sturdy build you expect from a corner slugger. He is a good athlete for his size, having spent time in the outfield, but is likely chained to first base long-term. His bat will have to carry him to the majors. The good news is that it could certainly do just that. Singleton has immense raw power and a highly patient approached. Perhaps because of his elite strength, he has yet to develop great barrel-awareness. His ability to make adjustment versus higher level pitching -- he has yet to face Double-A arms -- will be the biggest question in determining his overall future value. Singleton's upside is as a legit middle-of-the-order masher with 35-40 home run power. 

2) Zack Wheeler SP: New York Mets straight up for Carlos Beltran 

We saw other teams trade big leaguers for quantity over quality -- like Houston trading Michael Bourne for a gaggle of replacement level players -- but in the Carlos Beltran deal Mets' GM Sandy Alderson swung for the fences. Wheeler is one of the very few prospects traded who could end up being a difference maker and represents excellent value for a few month rental, even a player as good as Beltran. An elite high schooler, in a draft replete with prep talent, Wheeler has lived up to expectations as the former sixth overall pick. He has struck out over 25% of batters he's faced in each of his professional stops, working off a fastball with plus movement and velocity as well as a potentially plus curveball. The changeup and command need to improve. His motion is a bit unusual and potentially a cause for concern, but Wheeler slightly augments the length in his arm action with excellent leg drive, stride length and hip rotation. Wheeler's still a few years off and carries significant risk, but is an excellent gamble for the Mets. 

1) Drew Pomeranz SP: Colorado Rockies in the package for Ubaldo Jimenez

You could switch Pomeranz and Wheeler and I wouldn't argue too much. Wheeler has more upside, Pomeranz is a bit more advanced. They're pretty much the 1 and 1A of this crop of deadline prospects. The fifth pick in the 2010 draft out of Ole Miss, Pomeranz is a big, strong lefty. He works with a 90-93 MPH fastball but has plenty of arm strength to reach back for more when needed. His best pitch is a curveball which easily projects as plus and could develop into one of the handful of best breakers in the game. He has some feel for a changeup, but it isn't great yet. Pomeranz is officially a PTBNL (player to be named later), as draft picks cannot be traded until one year after they sign a pro contracts (the Pete Incaviglia Rule), but that is just a formality. He projects as an above-average starter, potential No. 2 guy if everything breaks right. He's a good prospect, not one I'd want for a Top 15 pitcher signed to an uber-team-friendly deal for, but a good prospect none the less. 


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