Zack Greinke Trade: Segura, Hellweg and Pena Vastly Improve Brewers' System
After what felt like a several years of speculation, Zack Greinke has finally been traded.
On Friday night, the Brewers dealt the right-hander to the Los Angeles Angels, as reported first by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. In return the Brewers are replenishing their farm system with a trio of high-upside prospects: SS Jean Segura, RHP John Hellweg and RHP Ariel Pena.
It cost the Brewers an arm and a leg to acquire Greinke prior to the 2011 season, when they traded RHP Jake Odorizzi, OF Lorenzo Cain, RHP Jeremy Jeffress and SS Alcides Escobar to the Royals for the 2009 Cy Young winner.
Now they have charged the Angels even more and Greinke's stock has appreciated. So if you think about it, the Brewers invested in Greinke, who gained value, and have now sold him for a potential better crop of prospects than they originally traded.
The Angels are absolutely aware of how much they gave up to land Greinke; with an all-in mentality, it’s justified, especially if they believe they can sign him to an extension. However, under the assumption that Greinke is simply being rented by the Angels, the Brewers made an absolute haul.
Each of the prospects that the Brewers will acquire are either major-league ready or within one season reaching such status. More importantly, Segura, Hellweg and Pena all fit a specific need within their severely lacking system.
And for the record, I suggested this exact trade earlier today.
Here are my scouting notes on all three players and how they immediately factor into the Brewers’ system.
Jean Segura, RHP (Age: 22)
Double-A: .294/.346/.404, 22 XBH (7 HR), 40 RBI, 33 SB (13 CS), 57 K/23 BB (94 G)
MLB: 0-for-3, 2 K (1 G)
Career (6 seasons): .310/.364/.438, 64 2B, 27 3B, 26 HR, 203 RBI, 135 SB, 206 K/122 BB (1,540 at-bats; 391 games)
Regarded as the No. 2 prospect in the Angels' system behind Mike Trout headed into the season, Segura is an undersized (5'11", 185 lbs) middle infielder with exciting tools. With raw bat speed and a compact swing, he will surprise people with the amount of pop in his bat. His quick wrists allow him to sit on offspeed offerings, and he's become increasingly comfortable hitting to all fields.
By the time he settles in at the major league level, the right-handed hitter could flirt with a .300 batting average, as well as 10-15 home runs. He’s had ongoing issues with his legs (hamstring, knees), but with healthy legs, Segura has the potential to be a regular base threat.
Although he’s always had a high contact rate, Segura could better utilize his speed by drawing more walks—something that he’s done at an eight percent clip in his best seasons.
With enough range to play both middle infield positions for the time being, Segura’s plus arm makes him more attractive as a shortstop. If he moves to second base, it will likely be a result of injury concerns. Still, he plays both positions aggressively and has good instincts on the field.
At the time of the trade, he had just been called up by the Angels to provide additional depth with Erick Aybar ailing. Now, in Milwaukee, he likely will be the everyday shortstop and could even hit toward the top of the order by the end of the season.
John Hellweg, RHP (Age: 23)
Double-A: 119.7 IP, 3.38 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 52.2 GB%, 6.62 K/9, 4.51 BB/9
Career (5 seasons): 305.1 IP, 3.66 ERA, 1.493 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 6.4 BB/9
A 6’9”, 210-pound right-hander drafted in the 16th round of the 2008 draft, Hellweg spent the 2008 through 2010 seasons coming out of the bullpen as a late-inning reliever and occasional closer in the low minors. Although he showed absolutely electric stuff and posted high strikeout rates, his control was astonishing bad as he walked 98 batters in 75.1 innings.
After some fine-tuning of his mechanics—it’s not exactly easy to control a wiry, 6’9” frame, folks—the right-hander was lengthened out as a starter, where he has blossomed into one of more high-ceiling/high-risk pitching prospects in all the minors.
For someone of his size with so many working parts, the ball comes out of Hellweg’s hand with ease, resulting in 94-98 mph fastballs with late sinking action to arm side.
When he wants to and much like he did as a reliever, the right-hander can rear back for triple digits. Despite the fact he’s a power pitcher, Hellweg induces an large amount of groundballs (52.2 percent) due to the heavy downward action on all his pitches—especially his fastball.
Even though the shape of his curveball can vary, all of those variations register in the low 80s with plus potential and feature late, sharp break. Now you’re beginning to see why he was a reliever, right?
Anyway, Hellweg also features a changeup, but he’s never really thrown it for effectiveness. It may not matter, because with a fastball-combo like his, he may never need it. The only thing that will prevent Hellweg from success in the major leagues by 2013 is his control.
RHP Ariel Pena (Age: 23)
Double-A: 114.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 39.3 GB%, 11.8 LD%, 8.74 K/9, 3.31 BB/9 (19 GS)
Career (6 seasons): 609 IP, 3.37 ERA, 1.335 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 4.0 BB/9
Signed by the Angels as 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in early 2007, Pena and Hellweg are cut from a similar mold: they are both hard-throwing right-handers who have overcome extreme control problems early in their career.
Pena has been dominant at Double-A this season, enjoying what is easily his best minor league season to date.
Not only has he learned to control his fastball, he’s been able to command it with consistency. Even though his four-seam fastball sits in the mid-to-upper 90s, Pena relies equally on his sinker in the low 90s. He has a repeatable, quick arm that produces the ball seemingly out of nowhere to opposing hitters, which only adds more deception to his fastball variations.
Pena’s best secondary pitch is easily his slider, which can even be a plus offering at times—when he’s locating his fastball to both sides of the plate, it plays up a grade. He’ll work in the occasional changeup, but it’s nothing special. He’ll have to refine the pitch to be at least a solid average offering before reaching the major leagues.
With a career 4.03 BB/9 in 609 minor league innings, Pena has posted a career-best 3.31 BB/9 this season at Double-A without sacrificing his K/9 (8.74). If he can continue to refine his command and add a mediocre third pitch, the right-hander could conceivably reach the major leagues at some point next season.
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