Every MLB Team's Prospect They Are Lucky Did Not Get Traded

Zachary BallAnalyst IAugust 1, 2011

Every MLB Team's Prospect They Are Lucky Did Not Get Traded

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    There's numerous tales of prospects who were considered premium trade-bait one season, and after sneaking through the deadline untouched, went on to have incredibly productive big-league careers.

    Clay Buchholz, for one, was rumored trade-bait for his first couple of seasons in Boston's farm system. He stuck it out, fought hard and engineered a 17-win season last year. Buchholz wasn't the first, and he certainly won't be the last prospect to turn out well and make this team that considered trading him, glad they didn't pull the trigger.

    There were more than a few guys like that on the block this trade season, and for the most part they all ended up staying put. Big names like Julio Teheran, Jason Kipnis and Will Middlebrooks were all rumored to be on the block at one point or another.

    Tigers pitcher Jacob Turner was even called up from Double-A straight to the big-leagues in what many thought was an audition for the Rockies, who were looking to load up on a mighty fine pitching prospect in exchange for Ubaldo Jimenez. That turned out to be bollocks, but it very well could have come true had the Tigers been a little more daring.

    Almost every team, save for the truly crappy ones (Seattle, Oakland and K.C. to name a few) had a guy or two like that, who they pulled back at the last second and, future permitting, will be thanking their lucky stars they had a change of mind.

    I present to you those players.

Arizona: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

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    Goldschmidt has been the darling of the D-Back's minor league system this year. 

    Through 103 games with Double-A Mobile, he's hitting .306 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI. The latter two numbers rank near the top of the minor league chart.

    He's having the kind of season that usually makes some team drool near the trade deadline and request him as a toss-in. But while Goldschmidt is slowly making believers out of many doubters, he still seems to have more people who question his ability than praise it.

    Either way, with the kind of season he's having, the D-Backs are lucky they held on to him. Don't want fans rioting when he isn't around when rosters expand come September.

Atlanta: Julio Teheran, RHP

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    The Braves could have survived the departure of fellow international prospects RHP Randall Delgado and RHP Arodys Vizcaino, or even homegrown LHP Mike Minor, but one guy who they were most bullish about dealing was RHP Julio Teheran.

    And for good reason.

    With a rotation that includes Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrgens, the organization still thinks Teheran has what it takes to be the staff ace. That obviously says something about his talent I think.

    Many are counting the Braves among the teams kicking themselves in the you-know-what for not pulling the trigger and bringing Hunter Pence into the fold, but in a way they should be commended. They didn't give into Pence-mania and lose all rationale like a few other teams were willing to do.

    You can't really fault the Phillies for parting with Jarred Cosart, since many in the organization looked down at him because of his maturity issues and also the belief that he was big-league reliever at best. The Braves have no doubts like that about Teheran, so why would they include him in a deal like that?

    It's simply not in the best interest of Atlanta's long-term plans.

Baltimore: Matt Angle, OF

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    The Orioles weren't necessarily in the position where they had to worry about trading any prospects. They were in selling mode and managed to shed the salary of Derrek Lee, while picking up some big-league ready talent for reliever Koji Uehara.

    If any prospect is happy he's still around though, it's Matt Angle

    The soon-to-be 26-year-old outfielder has put a terrible start behind him and is now one of the hottest hitters in the minor leagues. After hitting just .158 during April, he bounced back with a strong June (.315, 11 RBI, eight SB) before exploding during 19 July contests, compiling a .378 average, while rapping five doubles and swiping 10 bases.

    Angle is the kind of guy teams look to acquire as add-ons during trade season. A minor league veteran with plenty of talent, Angle is capable of playing all three outfield spots and has a great arm.

    He'll likely get a call-up in September and, with it, a chance to improve upon his 0-for-7 start to his big-league career.

Boston: Will Middlebrooks, 3B

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    Every team that was having talks with the Red Sox wanted Middlebrooks but, in the end, the Sox managed to swing a deal for Erik Bedard without giving up their 2011 break-out star.

    To say that the 22-year-old third baseman has impressed this season would be an understatement. He's hitting .301 through 84 games, 80 of which have been spent manning the hot corner for Double-A Portland. He's rapped 23 doubles, jacked 14 homers and driven in 64 runs. During July he was especially hot, cranking six homers in 26 games, likely feeding off the attention he received from being named to the Futures Game roster and an Eastern League All-Star.

    Interestingly enough, offense isn't the best part of Middlebrooks' game. He's considered one of the top defenders at his position in the minor leagues.

    The Sox are currently set at third with Kevin Youkilis, but dealing Middlebrooks would have hurt their infield depth greatly.

Chicago Cubs: Josh Vitters, 3B

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    I'm sure if you'd ask him, Josh Vitters would say he didn't quite see his career going this way.

    Instead of being on the cusp of reaching the majors, Vitters is still in Double-A trying to regenerate more interest in his career, especially from his own organization who seems to have become disinterested in him.

    Putting up a big stink egg (.247, 10 HR in 316 at-bats) last year didn't help, and even though he's looked more comfortable at the plate this season, he doesn't have the look of a franchise-type player. That's what the Cubs thought were getting when they selected him third-overall back in 2007.

    He's exactly the kind of player who gets dealt this time of year ,with another organization hoping he can fulfill some of the promise everyone saw in him before the draft back in '07.

    He lives to see another day in a Cubs uniform.

Chicago White Sox: Nobody

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    Unfortunately, the Sox don't have too many talented prospects, at the plate or on the mound.

    As such, they didn't have to worry about giving up anybody.

Cincinnati: Yonder Alonso, OF

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    Alonso has been the subject of trade talks for two years now.

    The emergence of last year's MVP Joey Votto has made Alonso, whose natural position is also first base, a casualty. The Reds have tried him in the outfield, although it's obvious he's never going to be a good defender there.

    Still, the Reds love his bat, especially the fact that he's hitting .296 with 12 homers and a 46-to-60 BB:K ratio in Triple-A while waiting for a solution to present itself.

    With the Reds still fighting for a Wild Card, it would have made sense to make a play for Ubaldo Jimenez or another pitcher on the market, using Alonso as the centerpiece of any deal.

    Instead, the Reds made a move to shore up Alonso's future with the team. They dealt outfielder Jonny Gomes to Washington, clearing a corner spot for the 24-year-old.

Cleveland: Jason Kipnis, 2B

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    The Indians gave up a lot to get Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland.

    Drew Pomeranz, the team's first-round pick from last year, Alex White, the first-round pick from the year before that, and Joe Gardner, who ranked as the team's No. 9 prospect according to Baseball America's Prospect Handbook.

    For a while, though, it appeared that the Rockies were holding out for Kipnis, who was rumored by many to be a part of the deal.

    Luckily, Cleveland was able to hang on to not only Kipnis, their top hitting prospect, but also Lonnie Chisenhall, who held that same honor before the season.

    Kipnis looked more than ready for a shot at the big-leagues, hitting .279 with 15 doubles, nine triples and 12 homers during 91 Triple-A contests. He finally got the call a couple of weeks ago, and despite his offensive struggles (.136 in 22 at-bats) he's still the second baseman of the future for the Indians.

Colorado: Nobody

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    Like Chicago (A.L.), the Rockies were not looking to add pieces before the deadline, but rather were content to wait and see who would offer the most for their star pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

    Look for them to put their efforts into competing in 2013, when both Pomeranz and White will be pitching out of their rotation.

Detroit: Jacob Turner, RHP

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    Turner was the subject of trade talks during the past week and a half, as the Tigers tried to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez. 

    Lost in all of the rumors was the fact that Turner made his big-league debut and pitched very well, tossing 5.1 innings of two-run ball. He struck out six and walked three and unfortunately picked up the loss. 

    The fact that Turner was even on the table for discussion surprised many in the industry, especially since he's one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in baseball.

    Down at Double-A Erie, the 20-year-old Turner posted a 3.48 ERA over 17 starts and looked advanced for his age against hitters two, three and sometimes four years his senior.

Florida: Nobody

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    The Marlins, more than just about any other team, were the least involved in any trade talks.

    At one point it was rumored that they were discussing a deal with Atlanta that would send Omar Infante back to the Braves, but nothing ever came of it. 

    In the end, they hung on to closer Leo Nunez and starters Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez.

Houston: Jonathan Villar, SS

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    The Astros were in wheeling and dealing mode, but they kept on the defensive most of the time, dealing Hunter Pence to Philadelphia, Jeff Keppinger to San Francisco and finally Michael Bourn to Atlanta.

    Still, a team making that many trades usually has to throw in some prospects here and there to acquiesce the other trading partner.

    Since Houston is currently housing two talented shortstops in Jiovanni Mier and Jonathan Villar, it only made sense for the Astros to see if they could swap one of them for some talent at other positions.

    Instead, they held on to both players. 

Kansas City: Nobody

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    With as much prospect talent as any team in baseball, it made sense for the Royals to shed some of their under-performing veterans in exchange for even more talent.

    That's exactly what they did, turning Mike Aviles and Wilson Betemit into two talented relievers (Kendal Volz and Antonio Cruz) and a versatile player in Yamaico Navarro.

    Over the next couple of years, look for them to start being aggressive with their talent, dealing a few pieces to get some big-league help.

Los Angeles Angels: Garrett Richards, RHP

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    Like the Yankees, everybody kept waiting for the Angels to make a move this past weekend, but after a lot of huff and puff, they never did a thing.

    It's great for their farm system, but not real good for increasing their odds of catching up to Texas, who made multiple moves to shore up their bullpen. 

    With few prospects they would actually entertain dealing, Richards could have been a real nice piece to package a few other guys with. Instead, the Angels will hang on to him and his 12-1 record in in Double-A.

    A true innings-eater, Richards has three complete-games this season and has already tossed 136 innings, all the while holding down a 3.04 ERA. He's practically a shoo-in for the organization's pitcher of the year honors, but sadly that's not going to help the team run down the Rangers. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Allen Webster, RHP

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    It's hard to fly under the radar as a prospect in Los Angeles, but somehow Webster has managed to do just that.

    Building off of the momentum from his break-out 2010 campaign, the right-hander has continued to march through the system, working his way up to Double-A as a 21-year-old. Webster dominated in High-A, posting a 2.33 ERA and a 62-to-21 K:BB ratio in 54 innings.

    Since his promotion, he's earned victories in three of his 11 starts, while compiling a 3.31 ERA. For the season, he's 8-3 with a 2.87 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 119.1 innings.

    Webster came into the season with projections as a middle-rotation guy, but now looks like he could be a potential No. 2 guy.

Milwaukee: Tyler Thornburg, RHP

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    The Brewers didn't have much talent left to work with, having already dealt Brett Lawrie, Jeremy Jeffress, Jake Odorizzi and Lorenzo Cain before the season even started.

    They shelled out another key cog to their system, Erik Komatsu, to Washington in order to acquire veteran infielder Jerry Hairston Jr.

    Luckily they managed to escape the trade-season without having to deal Thornburg, who is arguably their top overall prospect right now.

    Of course, there's no guarantee the right-hander is safe. Due to the trade that brought them K-Rod, the Mets will get to choose two players from Milwaukee's system later in September.

    I know they all have their fingers crossed it's not Thornburg, who is 9-2 with a 2.30 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 105.2 innings.

Minnesota: Nobody

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    As one of the most under-performing teams in baseball, the Twins stayed pat at the deadline. 

    They didn't deal Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel and plans to ship Denard Span to Washington fell through multiple times.

    Maybe next year.

New York Mets: Nobody

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    Like Houston, New York was strictly in sell-off mode, getting rid of Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran. 

New York Yankees: Manny Banuelos, LHP

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    Like a few other guys on this list, Banuelos was the subject of trade talk this past week but, unlike most, he's had to deal with having his named tossed around in trade circles for the majority of his career.

    Such is life as a Yankees prospect.

    In this new day and age, however, the Yankees seem to have greater interest in hanging on to their own, and as a result several trades fell apart due to the team's reluctance to deal the diminutive lefty.

    Just checking out his stats from the past few seasons, it's easy to see why Banuelos is such a high-value target. Despite his small stature (5'1", 155 lbs), he has massive talent, hence the impressive K:BB ratios and low ERAs.

    This season he hasn't been at his best, but he's finally healthy and for the first time ever made 20 starts in a single season. His ERA of 3.59 is about one run higher than it's been the past two years and his walk rate has jumped a bit, but he's still posting great strikeouts numbers (94 in 95.1 IP).

    While the Yankees might regret NOT dealing Banuelos for some pitching in a few weeks, they're sure to benefit in the long run.

Oakland: Nobody

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    Oakland was in the same position as New York (N.L.) and Houston.

    Unfortunately, they weren't as lucky and could only get rid of Brad Ziegler.

    Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, Rich Harden and Andrew Bailey all stayed put.

Philadelphia: Jesse Biddle, LHP

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    Giving up Jarred Cosart and Jon Singleton to the Astros was tough enough to stomach for Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro.

    However, if the Astros had their way, they would have likely gotten Jesse Biddle in the deal too. He was the prospect Houston originally demanded, in addition to Cosart and Singleton. Eventually, they lowered their demands and accepted reliever Josh Zeid instead.

    Which is a great thing, because the deal deprived Philly of their top pitching and hitting prospects.

    Including Biddle in the deal would have also been painful for the Phillies because the 19-year-old was born in Philadelphia and raised in nearby Germantown. He was drafted by Philly with their first-round pick in last year's draft, completing Biddle's childhood dream. You know the fans would have caused a bit of a ruckus.

    In his first full season, the full-bodied Biddle has pitched very well, posting a 3.18 ERA in 20 Low-A appearances, 19 of which have been starts. He's averaged nearly one strikeout per inning and has worked around a team-high 56 walks. It's helped that he's only surrendered three home runs all season.

Pittsburgh: Starling Marte, OF

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    Marte was one of a handful of players who impressed at the Futures Game in front of a national audience, so as the Pirates began scouring the trade market for some nice pieces that might push them back into the N.L. Central race, it seemed only fitting that Marte might be on the market.

    The Pirates held firm, however, parting with only mid-level prospect Aaron Brown and another player to be named later.

    Unfortunately, any plans they had for big deals fell through.

    Pittsburgh has dramatically improved their farm system, and since they've begun that process they've been very tepid about trading away any top-level talent. As such, Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Luis Heredia and a number of other players weren't even on the table.

    Heck, they weren't anywhere close to the table.

    While the trade deadline came and went for many Pirates fans hoping that the front-office would pull a major coup, there's hope in Marte.

St. Louis: Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez, RHP

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    Neither Miller nor Martinez was ever on the market, but if the Cardinals had wanted to pull off a massive heist and go after, for example, Ubaldo Jimenez, it likely would have cost them one of the dazzling duo.

    Instead, the Cardinals made some minor deals, acquiring Edwin Jackson and Rafael Furcal, while only having to surrender Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller and P.J. Walters. 

    Meanwhile, Miller is continuing to tear it up in Double-A (2.57 ERA, 65 K in 63 IP), while Martinez is slowly adjusting to High-A ball as a 19-year-old.

San Diego: Donovan Tate, OF

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    It wouldn't have surprised me if Tate was moved this weekend.

    He's been a total disaster since signing a $6.25 million deal back in 2009, suffering numerous injuries and setting back his potential big-league debut by at least two years. He's currently on the DL as we speak.

    I bet the Padres would have been tempted if some team they were having talks with would have tried to sneak Tate in on a deal, in hopes that he would eventually get healthy and fulfill some of his monumental promise.

San Francisco: Gary Brown, OF

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    Just about everyone in baseball, and not in baseball for that matter, knew that as the Giants were entering into talks with the Mets about Carlos Beltran, the Mets management's hopes would hinge upon getting either top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler or top position prospect Gary Brown.

    Or maybe both.

    Taking into account their strength at the big-league level at the starting pitcher position, and the welcomed surprise of Erik Surkamp, the Giants bit the bullet and dealt a future ace.

    They hung onto Brown, who has as much speed as any player in the minor leagues (42 steals this year), and has quite an impressive bat as well (.323).

    It was a move that made tons of sense for a team with excellent pitching and not so excellent hitting capabilities.

Seattle: Nobody

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    None of the Mariners top prospects, or even their mid-level ones for that matter, were at risk during the past few weeks.

    Rather, the team picked up tons of prospect talent, including third baseman Francisco Martinez, lefty Charlie Furbush, outfielders Chih-Hsien Chiang, Casper Wells and Trayvon Robinson.

    They're also going to be getting one of Nick Castellanos, Drew Smyly or Chance Ruffin, completing the deal that sent Doug Fister and David Pauley to Detroit. 

Tampa Bay: Nobody

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    The Rays weren't expected to deal any prospects before the deadline.

    They didn't.

    And as a result they still have arguably the top farm system in baseball.

Texas: Martin Perez, LHP

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    The Rangers managed to pick up two of the top relievers on the market, Koji Uehara and Mike Adams, without dealing any of their elite talent, namely SS Jurickson Profar, OF Leonys Martin or Martin Perez.

    The 20-year-old left-hander is widely regarded as one of the top pitchers in all of baseball and has a case against Tampa Bay's Matt Moore as the top lefty. 

    Martin finally showed some dominance, after years of looking over-matched, in 17 Double-A appearances before Texas gave him a bump up to Triple-A. In four starts there, he's back to looking over his head, giving up 35 hits and 15 earned runs in just 18.1 innings.

    The Rangers should be commended for their patience with Perez, who posted an ERA close to 6.00 last year in Double-A as a 19-year-old. His stuff is as good as any pitcher in the minors and the team managed to make two great moves without even having to think about dealing him.

Toronto: Nobody

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    The Jays have become one of the most prospect-savvy teams in baseball ever since Alex Anthopoulus took over as GM.

    So you had to know heading in that they weren't going to do anything drastic that would dramatically alter the status quo.

    They made a couple of deals and in the end only had to part with one prospect, pitcher Zach Stewart. They more than made it work in their favor, though, as they picked up a franchise outfielder in Colby Rasmus. 

Washington: Steve Lombardozzi, 2B

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    The asking price of Drew Storen might have been enough to steer the Denard Span-to-Washington deal into an iceberg, but it wasn't until the Twins demanded Lombardozzi that the potential trade really started to smolder.

    The 22-year-old infielder has had a very strong year, compiling a .311 average, seven home runs, 42 RBI and 21 steals while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A.

    The Nats are already set at second base with Danny Espinosa, who has shown one of the top bats among rookies this year, so the closest open spot for the local Marylander might be shortstop, where Ian Desmond's pathetic offensive output might put him on the trade block before too long.