Ranking the Top 5 Prospects Moved in Winter-Meetings Trades
The 2017 MLB winter meetings weren't jam-packed with action. Still, a handful of significant signings and trades were consummated between Monday and Thursday at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Initial reaction focuses on the established big league players who swapped uniforms. But in the case of trades, it's equally interesting to examine the prospects involved.
While none of the game's consensus top MiLB chips were dealt, a number of intriguing, high-upside farm hands will soon be rising through new systems.
Let's take a look at the top five, keeping in mind stats, skill set, ceiling and, as is always the case with prospects, a healthy dose of informed gut feeling.
No. 5: RHP Wilkel Hernandez
The Detroit Tigers knew they weren't going to get a king's ransom for second baseman Ian Kinsler. The 35-year-old had one year and $11 million remaining on his current contract and a full no-trade clause.
He agreed to waive it for a trade to the Los Angeles Angels. In return, Detroit received outfielder Troy Montgomery and right-hander Wilkel Hernandez.
The 23-year-old Montgomery profiles as a potential fourth or fifth outfielder in the big leagues, while Hernandez is more raw but comes with greater potential.
Still just 18 years old, Hernandez posted a 2.64 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 44.1 rookie league innings in 2017. His fastball already touches the high 90s, and his lanky frame suggests the possibility of adding muscle and zip.
"There is upside here," Tigers general manager Al Avila said of Hernandez, per Chris McCosky of the Detroit Free Press. "He's definitely a legitimate prospect."
No. 4: 2B Max Schrock
There were a lot of elements to the trade that sent outfielder Stephen Piscotty from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Oakland A's, including an emotional subplot about Piscotty getting to be closer to his mother in the Bay Area.
Additionally, the Cardinals netted at least one intriguing prospect in second baseman Max Scrock.
The 23-year-old hit .321 at Double-A last year and owns a .324 average and .811 OPS overall across three minor league seasons.
At 5'8", Schrock isn't an imposing presence, but he's got double-digit home run pop and great contact skills to go along with good hands at the keystone sack.
The San Francisco Giants' Joe Panik—another lefty-swinging second baseman who came up without a standout tool but has made an All-Star team and won a Gold Glove—is a solid comp.
No. 3: CF Magneuris Sierra
Magneuris Sierra wasn't the top prospect included in the package the Cardinals sent to the Miami Marlins for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. We'll meet him shortly.
Sierra does, however, possess an impressive range of tools. His gap power and plus speed profile well for the top of the order, and he's got the range and defensive ability to stick as a center fielder.
After hitting .262 with seven triples and 23 stolen bases in 124 minor league contests last season, Sierra got the call from the Cardinals and proceeded to hit .317 in 64 MLB plate appearances.
He should get every opportunity to rise quickly with the rebuilding Fish and could soon become an everyday big leaguer.
No. 2: RHP Jorge Guzman
OK, we're cheating a little here. Technically, the New York Yankees dealt right-hander Jorge Guzman as part of a package for Marlins masher Giancarlo Stanton right before the winter meetings began.
The Yanks officially introduced Stanton in Orlando, however, and the trade cleared the offseason logjam, allowing for the action that followed. So we're counting it.
Guzman wasn't the only piece New York sent to South Beach; the Marlins also netted MLB second baseman Starlin Castro and minor league infielder Jose Devers.
Keep an eye on Guzman, a hard-throwing stud whom the Yankees acquired from the Houston Astros for catcher Brian McCann in November 2016.
The 21-year-old posted a 2.30 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 66.2 innings at low-A Staten Island last season and boasts a radar-singeing fastball that frequently hits triple digits.
He's still mastering his control and working on refining his secondary pitches, including a slider and changeup, but he has the pure stuff to front a rotation or morph into a shutdown late-inning reliever.
No. 1: RHP Sandy Alcantara
The top name sent from the Cardinals to the Marlins in the Ozuna trade, Sandy Alcantara is another triple-digit thrower with an ace-level ceiling.
The 22-year-old advanced to Double-A last season before getting the call from St. Louis and striking out 10 in 8.1 innings out of the bullpen.
He's still working on his command and needs to develop his curveball and changeup to pair with a plus slider and that crackling fastball. He'll have a clear path to The Show with Miami, however, and has the skills to stay around once he gets there.
Marlins fans have every right to be upset about this latest firesale and skeptical of the new ownership group fronted by Derek Jeter. They can be forgiven for mourning the loss of Stanton and Ozuna, and speedy second baseman Dee Gordon before them.
Miami has added some intriguing young players, though, with Alcantara and his live arm at the head of the pack.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.