Does Yankees prospect Dellin Betances go from can't miss to can't keep?
With the MLB trade deadline now just two months away, speculation will start running rampant concerning available players.
As teams become identified as either buyers or sellers, the list of available players will fall more into focus. Conversely, we’ll also start hearing about the names of prospects being sought by selling teams as well.
Each team has their “untouchables," prospects they simply refuse to include in any deal. However, there are times when the right player is available, and that previously untouchable prospect suddenly becomes expendable.
Last season for example, the Philadelphia Phillies obtained Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros, giving up prospect Jonathan Singleton in the process. Singleton at the time was Philly’s top prospect, so there are times when even the best of the best become trade bait.
Here is a list of current top prospects who could very well find themselves on new teams come early August.
At the beginning of last season, third base prospect Matt Dominguez was thought to be the future at the hot corner for the Miami Marlins. However, a poor spring performance combined with a fractured elbow after getting hit by a pitch derailed his progress.
Now, Dominguez seemingly has nowhere to go with Miami, as Hanley Ramirez is now firmly entrenched at third base for the foreseeable future.
Dominguez will get looks from teams needing help at third base should the Marlins be looking to upgrade their roster for the playoff push.
A sandwich-round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, third base prospect Conor Gillaspie has put up solid numbers at the minor-league level with a career .293/.364/.420 slash line.
Unfortunately, his path in San Francisco is blocked by the likes of Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt, so his future in Major League Baseball could lie elsewhere.
GM Brian Sabean could absolutely dangle Gillaspie, who has seen limited action with the big league club over the last two seasons.
San Francisco Giants backup catcher Hector Sanchez has been more than up to the task of handling things at the major league level, hitting .284 with two homers and 17 RBI in 24 games, including a huge walk-off home run in the bottom of the 14th inning on Monday night to help the Giants defeat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3.
Serving as Buster Posey’s backup, Sanchez certainly seems comfortable. So where does that leave fellow catching prospect Andrew Susac?
Susac, selected last year by the Giants in the second round, is currently honing his craft with Advanced Single-A San Jose. Considering the fact that several teams will be on the hunt for that rare catcher who can also hit, expect GM Brian Sabean to get plenty of inquiries on him as well.
Young Dominican right-hander Carlos Martinez is only at the Advanced Single-A level for the St. Louis Cardinals, but he is the No. 2 prospect in the Cards’ organization according to Baseball America.
A blazing fastball with solid command is hard to find, and when Cardinals GM John Mozeliak decides to bolster his major league roster for a defense of his World Series championship, Martinez’s name will be a hot commodity for selling teams.
Command continues to be an issue for 21-year-old Venezuelan pitcher Martin Perez, one of the Texas Rangers’ top prospects.
Perez has a 5.80 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in 10 starts for Triple-A Round Rock this season, but his upside is still highly regarded. Perez mixes in a low-90s fastball with a devastating curveball that sits in the low 80s, and is still working on a changeup that hovers around the same speed as his fastball.
If he can command both his curve and changeup effectively, the similar speeds will be confusing to batters who won’t know whether the ball is breaking or not.
If Rangers GM Jon Daniels is looking to bolster his roster for a run at a third consecutive World Series appearance, expect Perez’s name to come up often.
The Tampa Bay Rays have such a loaded stable of young arms that if GM Andrew Friedman were inclined to bolster his roster for another playoff run, losing right-handed pitching prospect Chris Archer wouldn’t be that much of a blow.
With youngsters Taylor Guerrieri, Alex Colome and Alex Torres in the mix, among an assortment of other prep and college stars that Friedman has expertly stockpiled, Archer could be a piece for Friedman to use to attract a selling team with.
Archer was in the mix along with Alex Cobb to replace Jeff Niemann in the starting rotation, who suffering a fractured fibula in his right leg. Cobb got the nod and has been excellent in his two starts thus far.
When the Chicago White Sox used their first round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft to select Jared Mitchell, they selected a youngster with great athleticism and the potential for power.
Mitchell clearly struggled last year at the Advanced Single-A level, striking out a whopping 183 times in just 477 at-bats and hitting just .222 with nine homers. This year at Double-A Birmingham, Mitchell has raised his average to .293 with a healthy .424 on-base percentage.
The strikeouts are still a concern, however he could be an attractive option for selling teams if GM Kenny Williams is looking for roster help by late July.
Since 2003, the Los Angeles Dodgers have used their first pick in the MLB Draft to select a pitcher, and 2008 was no different, using their 23rd overall pick to select right-handed pitcher Ethan Martin.
Martin was a top 10 prospect for the Dodgers in both 2010 and 2011, but control issues plagued him throughout his first three-plus years in the system. Now pitching for Double-A Chattanooga, Martin has righted the ship somewhat, dropping his BB/9 rate to 4.5 from a high of 6.5 last season.
Martin could be an expendable prospect should GM Ned Colletti decide to upgrade his roster for the playoff push in late July.
Right-handed pitching prospect Dellin Betances was once considered untouchable as part of the Killer Bees along with fellow prospect Manny Banuelos. But now, GM Brian Cashman may be re-thinking that.
Betances, at 6'8" and 225 pounds, is an imposing presence on the mound, blessed with a great arsenal of pitches. But his lack of control continues to stymie his progress. At Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, Betances has walked 42 batters in just 46.2 innings.
The untouchable might just now be expendable.
Third base prospect Garin Cecchini has done nothing wrong in his time with the Boston Red Sox organization since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft. Cecchini is currently hitting .304 with 26 RBI and 17 stolen bases at Single-A Greenville, and is considered a top 10 prospect within the organization.
However, his path to the majors will likely be blocked by fellow prospect Will Middlebrooks, who has shined in his debut with the Red Sox this season after the injury to Kevin Youkilis.
GM Ben Cherington will likely hear Cecchini’s name mentioned when he starts calling selling teams and inquiring about available players.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Kansas City Royals fans will rip me a new one for putting highly-coveted prospect Mike Montgomery on this list, but given his performance over the past two seasons, when does he go from untouchable to expendable?
Montgomery’s control issues continue to get in his way, sporting a 1.617 WHIP and 4.5 BB/9 rate at Triple-A Omaha. With star prospects like Jake Odorizzi and John Lamb expected to be impact pitchers at the major league level, GM Dayton Moore could use Montgomery in a trade scenario even if they’re not buying at this point.
Sometimes the right thing to do is to cut bait and run, and it may be that time for the Royals and Montgomery.
The Baltimore Orioles could be in a position that they’ve been completely unfamiliar with for the past 14 seasons—buyers at the trade deadline.
As such, new vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will likely field inquiries on several players. One player who will catch the eye of opposing GMs is outfielder L.J. Hoes.
Hoes, selected by the Orioles in the third round of the 2008 MLB Draft, has taken considerable time to develop, now in his fifth season in the minors. Hoes features a .271/.372/.383 slash line at Double-A Bowie and can play all three positions in the outfield, along with time spent at second and third base at various times during his professional career.
With Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis firmly entrenched in the O’s outfield, Duquette could be bargaining from a position of strength with Hoes as an attractive trade option.