In an offseason chock-full of surprising moves, Wednesday night’s mega-three-team deal has to be the most unexpected. It featured a former top prospect and recent Rookie of the Year, the 13th overall pick in last June’s draft, and a soon-to-be 26-year-old outfielder who was barely considered a prospect until he figured it out three seasons ago in Low Class A.
As Hardball Talk notes, former Cincinnati and Washington GM Jim Bowden broke down the deal as such:
The Rays acquire:
- Steven Souza (Nationals), OF
- Burch Smith (Padres), RHP
- Jake Bauers (Padres), 1B
- Travis Ott (Nationals), LHP
- Rene Rivera (Padres), C
The Padres receive:
- Wil Myers (Rays), OF
- Ryan Hanigan (Rays), C
- Jose Castillo (Rays), LHP
- Gerardo Reyes, (Rays), RHP
The Nationals acquire:
- Joe Ross (Padres), RHP
- Trea Turner (Padres), SS
Of the 11 players changing teams, only Rivera, one of the game’s better pitch framers, Myers, and Hanigan have played extensively in the big leagues. So let’s take a look at the remaining eight players and see what CAL, the Comparison And Likeness player classification system I developed, thinks of each. (Note: in a nutshell, CAL compares a prospect to similar MiLBers in terms of age, production, position, and career path.)
Steven Souza: The former third round pick out of high school didn’t really figure things out until the age of 23 in the Sally League. Since then he hasn’t stopped hitting, posting a 161 wRC+ in Class AA in 2013 and an absurd 180 wRC+ in the International League last season. So what does CAL think? Here are Souza's top five comparables: Matt LaPorta, Andrew Lambo, Scott Van Slyke, Joe Mather, and Alex Castellanos.
It’s a trio of fringy big league bats (LaPorta, Mather, Castellanos), another, who like Souza, was a high draft choice that figured it out late (Lambo), and the Van Slyke, who owns a career .261/.348/.476 big league line in his first 455 plate appearances. The Rays would be thrilled if Souza turned out to be another Van Slyke-type player, but CAL suggests that there is quite a bit of volatility too.
Burch Smith: The big right-hander has always been a bit of an under-the-radar prospect: he's combined an impressive ability to miss bats while limiting free passes in his minor league career. But the fastball he showed in his big league debut only hovered around the 91 mph mark. He also missed most of last season with a forearm issue. Top comparables from CAL: Andrew Heaney, Alex Cobb, Yohan Pino, Ryne Miller, and David Huff. Heaney and Cobb are two solid ceiling-points for Smith, mid- to backend-rotation-type arms worth somewhere between 2.5- to 3.0-wins.
Joe Ross: A 2011 first round pick, 25th overall, Ross’ strikeout rate spiked tremendously last season, going from a well below-average 5.8 K/9 in 2013 to 7.8 K/9 split between the California and Texas Leagues. He’s also stingy with the free pass – he’s walked just 91 of the 1283 total batters he’s faced (7.1%). Top comparables: Michael Watt, Jeff Locke, Jayson Aquino, Trevor Bell, Robbie Ross Jr. Both Locke and Ross Jr. are backend arms.
Trea Turner: It’s important to note that Turner’s usable sample size is barely 200 plate appearance (his work in the Midwest League). Top comparables: Darrell Sweeney, Zach Walters, Rick Hague, Marc Wik, and Jordany Valdespin.
Jake Bauers: The former seventh round pick is difficult to compare – not only is his time in the minors limited, but a late-season swoon helped derail two months of domination in the Midwest League last season. He began the year hitting .354/.429/.523 in his first 55 games and ended it by hitting .242/.325/.313 over his final 57 games. Top comparables: Ronald Guzman, Mitch Dening, Danry Vazquez, Michael Ortiz, and Dominic Smith.
Travis Ott: A big lefty plucked out of high school in the 25th round in 2013 with decent peripherals and very limited innings. Top comparables: Jean Cosme, Fabian Cota, Ariel Alcantara, Gregory Baez, and Dean Aldridge.
Jose Castillo and Gerardo Reyes: The young duo has thrown barely 60 innings combined, so like Ott, they could easily move in one direction or the other quickly. Top comparables for Castillo: Andrew Bellatti, Chadwick Kaalekahi, Craig Missigman, Michael Feliz, and Jesus Zambrano. Top comparables for Reyes: Juan Guzman, Neil Holland, Darwin Frias, Jesen Dygestile-
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