OF Robbie Grossman
Drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB first-year player draft, Grossman had a breakout season at High-A Bradenton in 2011.
In 616 at-bats, the switch-hitter batted .294/.418/.451 with 49 extra-base hits (13 home runs) and 24 stolen bases. Although he struck out 111 times, the 6’0", 205-pound outfielder led all minor league hitters with 104 walks.
But is Grossman really that selective and efficient as a hitter? Or was his production merely a result of his second straight season at High-A?
There’s uncertainty regarding his power and whether it will ever develop to be anything more than big-league average. Even though he still strikes out more than desired, his advanced plate discipline should allow him to hit for a decent average down the road—but nothing spectacular.
Grossman’s highest value comes as a top-of-the-order center fielder where his power hitting, on-base skills and above-average speed are all premiums. If he’s able to hit for enough power, then a move to a corner outfield position may be more appropriate.
Considering that he now has both Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen blocking his path in center, it’s a move that may come sooner rather than later.
His stats at Double-A Altoona prior to the trade may not blow your mind, but he’s turning in a solid season and has made several adjustments.
LHP Rudy Owens
A 24-year-old left-hander, there’s not a lot of projection left with Owens, as he’s nearly ready to contribute as a back-end starter at the major league level.
At 6’3”, 230 pounds, his fastball only works in the low-90s. However, his command of the pitch throughout the strike zone is exceptional and makes him effective against both right- and left-handed hitters.
Owens also throws an average curveball, although his above-average changeup serves as his best secondary offering. He mixes the pitches well and features similar, deceptive arm action with all of them.
LHP Colton Cain
Of the three prospects acquired by the Astros in the trade, Cain is the player with the highest ceiling. A physically strong, 6’3”, 225-pound left-handed pitcher, he was an eighth-round draft pick by the Pirates in 2009 out of Waxahachie High School in Texas.
The 21-year-old is still a work in progress. He features an above-average command of an 88-93 mph fastball with late, arm-side action.
Cain’s breaking ball has drawn mixed reviews, as he still lacks the feel to throw it with consistency. His fading changeup continues to develop and may be an above-average secondary offering by the time he reaches the major leagues.
OF Marc Krauss
Selected in the second round of the 2009 draft, Krauss is a physically strong, 6’2”, 235-pound outfielder whose offensive game compares to Adam Dunn’s.
A 24-year-old in his third full professional season, Krauss is enjoying his best minor-league campaign to date with a .924 OPS in 104 games at Double-A Mobile.
Although his defense in left field is fringy at best, Krauss' three-outcome (home run, walk or strikeout) approach should garner opportunities in the major leagues over the next two seasons, and there’s a strong chance that he receives most of his at-bats against left-handed pitching.
To avoid the Rule 5 draft next season, Krauss will need to be added to the Astros’ 40-man roster, so don’t be surprised if he receives a September call-up.
OF Bobby Borchering
The Diamondbacks’ first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in 2009, Borchering began his professional career as a third baseman before his error-prone defense forced a move across the infield to first base.
This season, the organization has had him playing both corner outfield positions even though he’s still a defensive liability.
However, the 21-year-old switch hitter still possesses what made him a first round draft pick in 2009: robust raw power. Borchering has hit at least 15 home runs in each of his first three full seasons, including 24 last year at High-A Visalia.
But with all the power comes a long, lofty swing that has led to worrisome strikeout totals—he fanned 162 times in 2011. He’s not afraid to draw a walk, but would still greatly benefit from improved plate discipline, especially as he reaches higher levels.
The upside is still there with Borchering; now it’s a matter of whether he makes the necessary adjustments to reach his ceiling.
RHP Joe Musgrove
A Blue Jays’ first-rounder in 2011 (No. 46 overall) has a power pitcher’s frame (6’5”, 230) that produces heavy fastballs that pound the lower half of the strike zone. Rounding out his arsenal is an above-average breaking ball, as well as a splitter that has late tumble and continues to improve.
RHP Asher Wojciechowski
A 6’4” right-hander, Wojciechowski has a three-pitch mix that includes a plus fastball, above-average slider and improving changeup. He has a physical frame that should allow a heavier workload than most starters, but will need to refine the command of all his offerings.
LHP David Rollins
Despite not possessing a plus pitch, Rollins had a strong professional debut in 2011, posting a 1.77 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 0.8 BB/9 in 35.2 innings in Short Season and Rookie-ball.
This season, Rollins hasn’t had the same exceptional command of his low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup, but he’s still been highly effective.
C Carlos Perez
Blocked by J.P. Arencibia and Travis d’Arnaud in Toronto, Perez instantly became the team’s top catching prospect upon arrival. He doesn’t drive the ball as well as he can, but the hand-eye coordination and bat control is there.
Furthermore, he has advanced plate discipline that should allow for his hit tool to continue to develop. An athletic catcher, Perez has a strong, accurate arm that has led to a 33 percent caught-stealing rate over five seasons.
*RHP Francisco Cordero (MLB), OF Ben Francisco (MLB), Carlos Perez, Asher Wojciechowski, Joe Musgrove, David Rollins and PTBNL were acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RHP Brandon Lyon (MLB), LHP J.A. Happ (MLB) and RHP David Carpenter (Triple-A)
*RHP Matt Heidenreich (Double-A), LHP Blair Walters (High-A) and PTBNL were acquired from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for RHP Brett Myers (MLB)
*OF Robbie Grossman, LHP Rudy Owens and LHP Colton Cain were acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for LHP Wandy Rodriguez (MLB)
*OF Bobby Borchering and OF Marc Krauss were acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 3B Chris Johnson (MLB)