A.J. Burnett Trade: A Look at New Prospects Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones

Michael Desjardins@TheMDesjardinsCorrespondent IIFebruary 18, 2012

A.J. Burnett Trade: A Look at New Prospects Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones

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    Pending approval from the commissioner's office, the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a trade in which A.J. Burnett will be sent to Pittsburgh.

    In return, the Pirates will pay $13 million of the $31.1 million left on Burnett's contract and will send two prospects to the Yankees, pitcher Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones.

    Now some might think this was merely a way for the Yankees to create salary relief so they can acquire a designated hitter, such as Raul Ibanez, and be in the running for some free agents in 2013 (one name that quickly comes to mind is current Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels).

    But is it possible that Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones could produce at the major league level? Let's take a look.

Diego Moreno

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    Diego Moreno, who hails from Venezuela, was signed as an international free agent in 2006 at the age of 20, which for Latin prospects is pretty old.

    As a reliever in 2011, he spent time in Single-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona. His ERA was a bit high at both levels (3.21 in Single-A, 4.91 in Double-A), but he had a very high strikeout rate.

    He has a fastball that regularly reaches 97 mph and a sharp slider in the mid-80s. He's also been very good against righties, in 2010 limiting them to a .088 batting average against him.

    However, he had control issues last year, which may have stemmed from a rotator cuff strain in 2010.

    In addition, he was eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this past year but was not added to the 40-man roster, which is interesting.

    The Yankees organization, I believe, will place him in Double-A Trenton to start the season, and see where he goes from there.

    If his control issues can be fixed, and finds success, he could be brought up at the Major League level, especially if injuries occur.

    However, considering that Moreno is now 25, a reliever, and battling control problems, I'm a bit unsure as to how long he can provide for not only this team, but at the top level. Unless fixed, I believe his shelf life will last about two, maybe three years.

Exicardo Cayones

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    Earlier in the week, I wrote an article about bold moves the Yankees could make. One of them was to obtain an outfield prospect for Burnett, either Starling Marte or Robbie Grossman.

    Well, they did get an outfield prospect. Unfortunately, it wasn't either of them; instead, they got Exicardo Cayones.

    Cayones, a left fielder who also hails from Venezuela, was signed as an international free agent in 2008.

    He began the 2011 season in Short Season-A State College. There, he struggled, hitting just .063 before being demoted to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates. He fared much better there, hitting .293 in 27 games. He went on a hot streak in August, hitting .352 that month.

    He seems to struggle against lefties, and managers have tried shying him away from them when possible. He also doesn't boast a lot of speed (so far in his career he's 14-for-28 in steal attempts).

    However, scouts like his advanced approach to the plate, and he is very good when it comes to hitting for extra bases.

    The Yankees have Cayones under control until 2015, the year current left fielder Brett Gardner enters free agency. Though I really like Gardner and hope he continues to be a staple of this franchise for years, Cayones could be a potential successor if Gardner plays horribly or becomes too expensive to keep.