MLB Trade Rumors: Ranking the 10 Best Prospects Potentially On the Move
When Cliff Lee was traded from Philadelphia to Seattle last December, the Mariners didn't send an All-Star to Citizens Bank Park in return. They didn't even send a fellow ace with a big contract or a 30-30 type bat. Instead they moved three prospects, including Phillippe Aumont, a first-round pick of the 2007 draft who had not played above double-A.
A similar story happened days later when Kyle Drabek was sent from Philly to Toronto in the Roy Halladay deal, and also the year before when Carlos Santana was sent to the Indians from the Dodgers in exchange for Casey Blake and cash. Drabek threw the first nine-inning no hitter for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last week, and Santana already has five home runs and a .297 batting average through 23 games behind the plate in Cleveland.
It is guys like Aumont, Drabek, and Santana who often make or break these big trades, but they're very much always on the undercard when they deserve a much higher billing.
Here are10 more prospects who could be on the move as the trade deadline approaches, and it's likely that all of them would be an afterthought to most casual fans at the expense of the stud in the deal.
10. Esmil Rogers
If Colorado are still seriously considering a move for Baltimore Orioles second baseman Ty Wiggington, Esmil Rogers could be the undercard to any deal
Fox Sports' Tracy Ringolsby reported that a Baltimore scout was sent to watch the right-handed prospect pitch for the triple-A Colorado Springs SkySox.
Scouts won't have to that far next time, as Rogers was recalled last week and struck out five batters in four extra innings on Sunday against the Giants. It was his 12th game this year after a couple relief starts in early April and a pair of spot starts at the start of May.
The 24-year-old has only logged 31.2 innings in the Majors so far, but the spindly right-hander from Dominica has also struggled at triple-A over the last two years. He has a 4-8 record and 7.42 ERA in 19 triple-A games (17 starts), but after dominating at double-A at the start of 2009 there wasn't really too many challenges remaining for him at Tulsa in the Texas League.
He's still at least one year away from being a reliable option at the Major League level, although his real value might be out of the bullpen and as a No. 6 emergency starter.
9. Wilmer Flores
If the New York Mets are unwilling to move Jenrry Mejia or someone like Ike Davis, could Wilmer Flores' name be added to any deal trying to tempt a team to send a starting pitcher to Flushing?
Say the Mets are unable to land Lee, would a move to Houston be likely if the Astros say goodbye to Roy Oswalt? Houston will likely need to upgrade at shortstop over the next few years which works well for the Mets when you consider that Flores is not going to be MLB-ready until 2012 at the earliest. I don't think teams such as Atlanta would move current Major League infielders like Yunel Escobar, and I'm not convinced that the Dodgers would be willing to part with Dee Gooden who is likely to jump to AAA next season.
A blog on The Hardball Times quotes John Paul Morosi of Fox Sports saying the San Francisco Giants recently expressed interest in Kansas City Royals outfielder David DeJesus, and CSNBayArea.com's Mychael Urban later reported "that trade talks aren't exactly hot and heavy between the two clubs."
Kansas appears to want a lot in return for DeJesus and one blogger suggested a hitter like Flores could be a tempting pice in the puzzle if the Mets were interested, which—considering they have Carlos Beltran returning soon—isn't too likely. Fellow Bleacher Report Chicago Cubs featured columnist Bob Warja suggested a few weeks ago that Flores could be part of a deal for Ted Lilly. I think that is much more likely as the Mets continue to stay in the hunt for another ace.
8. Randall Delgado
The Atlanta Braves certainly aren't looking to sell the pitching talent on their farm, but if they are inclined to shop some young arms, Randall Delgado could be the first to go.
The 20-year-old is pitching at Class A-Advanced right now where he has struck out more than a batter per nine innings, but if he continues to harness his control, he could develop into another strong pitcher with stuff that shouldn't be coming from someone with a wiry frame that slender.
He is not going to be pitching in meaningful Major League games until 2012 at the earliest so it will be an investment should a club want to take it on, but Delgardo would almost certainly be an overlooked piece in any deal that goes down.
He would go overlooked if Houston moved Oswalt or Hunter Pence, and the same could be said if Toronto cashes in on Jose Bautista's career year, as has been suggested by Bleacher Report's Jon Star. The saving grace for Braves fans is that the organization has so much young pitching depth in the minors that the effects of losing one talented arm may not be too significant.
7. Aaron Hicks
If Wilson Ramos isn't a big enough piece to tempt the Mariners to trade Cliff Lee to Minnesota, adding Aaron Hicks would certainly sweeten the pot, according to AOL Fanhouse's Jeff Fletcher.
In an MLB.com report, beat reporter Mike McCall quoted Fletcher as saying that Hicks is one of the top-ranked prospects on the Twins farm.
The 6'2” 20-year-old was a first-round pick in the '08 draft and he was named a top-20 prospect by Baseball America immediately prior to the start of the season.
Hicks has yet to make it through A-ball, but he has an interesting combination of speed, power, and defense, even if none of his tools are necessarily plus-plus.
There's an obvious need for more plate discipline and better instincts on the basepaths, but the fundamentals are there, and he would be a great addition to any club in a couple years time. Look at late 2012 or early 2013 as an arrival date, just done overlook him when he is part of a package to land a big name in the next three weeks.
6. Jenrry Mejia
Almost one week ago, the Mets Jenrry Mejia was pulled from a start with double-A Binghamton after complaining about a stiff right shoulder . Aside from Mejia being the best arm in the Mets system, he was also rumored to be the dealbreaker in any move the team might have been setting up for Cliff Lee.
Daily News beat writer Anthony McCarron said Mejia's injury might stop them using him as trade bait, saying "if Mejia's arm is not sound, the Mets may have one fewer jewel to dangle in front of teams looking to unload premium pitchers."
Mejia doesn't turn 21 until October, but he certainly impressed the big club during 30 games in relief this year when the Mets bullpen was in tatters. The Mariners would certainly like to add a young hurler like Mejia to the mix, but if the Mets are unable to get Lee, fans wouldn't necessarily be too unhappy about not mortgaging their future to get him.
Mejia reminds me a little bit of Jesse Carlson or a young Salomon Torres, although right now the slight pitcher is much more suited to relief duties than a closing role.
5. Wilson Ramos
Cliff Lee is the hottest trade target in baseball right now, and one team that is apparently leading the charge to acquire his services is the Minnesota Twins.
On Thursday, Yahoo sports writer Mark Miller cited an ESPN story that the Twins have a good shot at getting Lee if they included Wilson Ramos in a deal. Ramos would not be the main piece of what the Twins would have to send over to Seattle, but he is certainly an interesting part of the equation. It may not be too much of a stretch to say that he could the linchpin in the trade, although St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters says Seattle already "has a young catcher it likes a lot" in Adam Moore, lessening their appetite for Ramos.
22-year-old catcher Ramos is pretty much Big League ready, and he has already appeared in seven games for the Twins this season. Right now he's back in triple-A, but he has struggled with the transition somewhat from the New Britain Rock Cats where he batted .317 in the Eastern League in 2009.
Ramos won't wow you with his power or his speed, but he calls a good game behind the plate and is defensively sound. The Twins don't have too many intentions of keeping him as a backup to Joe Mauer just yet, and it's likely that he will play out most of the second half of the season in Rochester unless he is called up to fill an injury.
I see Ramos like a smaller Ronny Paulino this year; someone who will hit the occasional home run, bat somewhere around .275, and be a nice defensive guy to have in the lower half of the order.
4. Madison Bumgarner
Over the last week I've read a couple differnet articles examining whether the San Francisco Giants are interested in approaching Milwaukee to lure Prince Fielder to the west coast.
Mike Bauman, a national columnist for MLB, said the Giants would probably have to include a "pitching prospect of genuine potential" to land Fielder, although it remains to be seen whether San Fran would be willing to move several of their top youngsters.
The likely guys on the move would be Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler. I don't think Milwaukee would be as interested in southpaw Dan Runzler.
20-year-old Bumgarner was a first-round draft pick in 2007 and he has torn up the minors so far. He was 15-3 with 164 strikeouts in 141.2 innings at single-A in '08 and 12-2 between high-A San Jose and double-A Connecticut last year. He has continued his strong showings in 2010 for the triple-A Fresno Grizzlies in the Pacific Coast League where he is 7-1 in 14 starts.
If you're looking for comparisons, how about David Price, another big left-handed pitcher from the 2007 draft with the potential for double-digit strikeouts while keeping the ball in the yard. He's not as good as the top overall pick three years ago, but there certainly are similarities there.
3. Jose Iglesias
Is Boston Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias as untouchable as many members of the east coast media are speculating?
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says the team is unwilling to part with the talented shortstop, but Kansas City are rumored to be in love with the rookie who is quickly establishing a name for himself throughout Red Sox Nation.
Should Boston want to get someone like a David Dejesus in the next three weeks, they may need to consider parting ways with Iglesias as the centerpiece of the deal. The 5'11" Cuban is only a few months removed from being a teenager, and he still has a lot to learn, but the potential is there. He has a dozen extra-base hits for the Portland Sea Dogs in the double-A Eastern League to complement his .306 batting average, and he could be big league ready by 2012.
Could Iglesias be another Tony Pena? Remember, when Pena played for the Royals a couple years ago, he was an everyday, lightweight, right-handed shortstop with virtually no power and above average speed. While Iglesias is a little better than the numbers Pena put up, don't expect him to be the next Jason Bartlett. Something in between is pretty much spot on.
2. Dom Brown
At the trade deadline 12 months ago, the Philadelphia Phillies refused to move Dom Brown in their efforts to land Roy Halladay. The same had happened last July for Cliff Lee.
Brown is the organization's top prospect, as well as the youngster with the best arm in the outfield and best hitter for average anywhere on the farm. After promoting him to triple-A a fortnight ago to challenge him more, it's unlikely the Phils will move him this time either, even if his chances of getting some Major League playing time in 2010 are slim to none.
He's about a year away from making the next jump, although the crowded outfield in Philly won't help either. Still, it's just a matter of time before he does break through to The Show.
While the Phillies have their eyes on several guys ahead of the trade deadline later this month, I would say that Brown is as close to untouchable as they come. What's more, if he did get moved—which I don't think would happen—he would be much more than a second thought or backup player. If Brown got moved, he would be the centerpiece of what was going the other way.
1. Jeremy Hellickson
As much as I love Bumgarner and Brown, the fact is that these two men are unlikely to be on the move unless the price is ridiculously high. Even then, there is still a good chance they are off limits.
But MLB writer Marc Lancaster reported that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said the club will do “whatever it takes” to land a big name before July 31, even if their payroll will likely be considerably less next season.
While money isn't necessarily said to be a problem, would the Rays be willing to move Jeremy Hellickson, a player who I consider to be probably the best young arm in the minor leagues right now?
Lancaster said “the Rays might just roll the dice on depleting their farm system” by trading Hellickson, and that idea is made more likely considering the depth the team has in its Major League rotation right now.
Hellickson turned 23 this spring and he's been around the minors since 2005, but he is ready to make the leap to The Show any day now. He would probably already be there if it wasn't for guys like Wade Davis, David Price, and Jeff Niemann blocking his way.
He is 11-2 for triple-A Durham this year with a 2.21 ERA and 104 Ks in 105.2 innings, and he appears to be building nicely on his nine starts and 6-1 record in the International League at the end of 2009.
Hellickson really does have it all, including a plus fastball, two above-average breaking pitches, and pinpoint control. He has the poise and know-how to succeed in the Majors, and right now he is the biggest prospect who could make immediate waves if he was traded at the deadline.