Breaking Down the Prospects in the Wil Myers Trade

The days-rumored mega deal has happened and I’m here to break down all the prospects.  FanGraphs has you covered, with David Laurila on Trea Turner, Carson Cistulli on Steven Souza, Miles Wray on Rene Rivera, Jeff Sullivan on the Padres and Dave Cameron with wild speculation on what the trade might be, then  general thoughts on the actual trade.

San Diego gets RF Wil Myers, C Ryan Hanigan, LHP Jose Castillo, RHP Gerardo Reyes (from TB)
Tampa Bay gets RF Steven Souza, LHP Travis Ott (from WSH), C Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith, 1B Jake Bauers (from SD)
Washington gets SS Trea Turner and RHP Joe Ross (from SD)

I also posted my Rays prospect list earlier this week and was scheduled to have the Padres list up next week, so I already had research done on most of the prospects involved.  As for how this changes their rankings, I would slot Souza third behind C Justin O’Conner and I would slot Bauers 26th between RHP Orlando Romero and C David Rodriguez.  This trade would give the Rays’ list 33 ranked players, the most of any team I’ve ranked so far.  This further underlines the point I made in the intro of the list, about how the Rays’ organizational plan props up their system depth.

I think Souza has been underrated by most and Ross has been overrated by most, which is why the reaction is so universally that Washington is a winner in this deal and Tampa Bay is a loser.  I’d still prefer Washington’s end of the Souza swap, but Tampa Bay is forced to value players differently than other clubs: getting six years of immediate impact from an everyday type is the ideal player they’re chasing.  Prospects years away for contributing (Ross and Turner) or a player that was much more hype than substance in 2014 (Myers) that will be expensive a year sooner than Souza is the kind of assets the Rays value less than most teams.

The Rays saw an opportunity to cash in on Myers’ name recognition before his inconsistency/wrist injury potentially sink his value further, in exchange for a player they’re higher on than the industry, with some lower-end prospects included to account for the tools/hype gap between Myers and Souza.  It’s unusual move in a change-averse baseball culture and risky from a PR perspective, but it makes sense given Tampa Bay’s situation.  The Padres dealing lesser and farther-from-contributing pieces for a potential star and the Nationals dealing a blocked player for two potential contributors make more obvious sense on the face of this deal, so I don’t think I need to explain the motivations for them.

I’ve listed the prospects in the deal in order of preference, though the top two prospects have the same grade, so you could flip-flop them if you prefer the instant impact of Souza over the positional scarcity of Turner.

Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals (traded from Padres)
Hit: 20/50, Raw Power: 40/40, Game Power: 20/40, Run: 70/70, Field: 50/55, Throw: 55/55, FV: 50

Turner is polarizing but more because he hasn’t played much in pro ball and he had a bad draft year at North Carolina State.  Scouts with history back to his underclass years with the Wolfpack (the above video is chronological and start in his sophomore year and with Team USA later that summer) are more optimistic because they saw the good version of Turner and know that a mechanical adjustment can explain almost all of his offensive struggles.

Turner had a couple minor leg injuries and then spread his feet too far apart, probably to generate more power, which caused his base to be weak and collapse at contact, undermining his natural bat control.  He made the adjustment weeks before the draft and everything seemed in order in pro ball.  Turner taps into his raw power in games when he’s making hard contact and he could be an 8-12 homer guy at maturity, but that isn’t really a big part of his game, more of a perk when he’s making lots of contact. With a full season in 2015 of solid performance, I would likely adjust Turner’s hit grade up at least one notch, as I’m already on the optimistic side right now versus scouts who only saw him in college (mostly early) in his draft spring.

Turner was a late bloomer that was largely unscouted in high school until very late his senior spring and he played third base his freshman year in college.  He slid over to shortstop as a sophomore and eventually settled in to where his hands, instincts and actions are enough to be average at the position and his 55 arm is enough to make the play in the hole.  Due to some of those minor league injuries, Turner’s 80 speed is now more of a 70 in game situations, but that difference is tough to notice unless you’re using a stopwatch.

Note: As I tweeted after Turner’s name came up in the rumors around the deal that he became eligible to be traded on December 13th, which was exactly 6 months after he signed his draft contract on June 13th.  A player-to-be-named-later can be in question for up to 6 months and a drafted player has to wait until one year after he signs his contract to be traded.  Turner will play for the Padres organization until June 13th, 2015, then will be shipped to the Nationals.

Video credit to rkyosh007

Steven Souza, RF, Tampa Bay Rays (traded from Nationals)
Hit: 30/45+, Raw Power: 55/55, Game Power: 30/50+, Run: 50/50+, Field: 50/50, Throw: 55/55, FV: 50

Continuing the trend, Souza is also a bit polarizing in his own right.  It would seem easy to like a guy with everyday tools that also really performs.  Some scouts are all-in on him, but most are at least a little dubious that Souza will be able to keep it up in the majors, due to his approach, size and career path.

After a slow start to his career as a 3rd round pick in 2007 out of high school (which included a drug suspension in 2010), Souza started crushing everything he faced in 2012 at age-23 in High-A.  He followed that with huge years in 2013 at age-24 in Double-A and in 2014 at age-25 in Triple-A.  All three of those seasons are two years old for the target age for a prospect to be at each level, so some scouts don’t even totally buy into the performance.

Scouts do allow for larger players taking longer to grow into their bodies and Souza is 6’4/225, but some hitters hit a ton everywhere in the minors then hit a few notches worse in the majors.  The margin for error is very small and being that big with long arms doesn’t make it easy to make contact in the big leagues.

When I wrote up Rockies prospect Kyle Parker earlier this off-season, some people bristled at the idea that a guy who is performing in Triple-A and has some tools could be expected to hit far worse in the majors.  Both Souza and Parker have some approach issues that worry scouts (both are called “swing and miss types”) but that doesn’t necessarily always show up in the stats.  There’s something to be said for betting against projections by scouts that go that strongly against the objective data at Triple-A, but I’d only do it when there’s at least some tools, which Souza obviously has.

A good offensive outcome for Souza would be something like Matt Joyce—more walks and strikeouts than average with power a bit above average as well—and because Souza has at least average speed, defense and arm strength, that would be an easy everyday player, probably a bit above average.

There’s a lot to like here with the size, tools and performance.  Even if he can’t hit, Souza profiles as a very nice 4th outfielder since he can contribute at all three outfield spots, as Jordan Zimmerman can attest, and can punish a mistake pitch at the very least.  There’s at least a couple teams that think he’ll be at least an average bat with above average power and some defensive value, and Souza may do that in the big leagues as quickly as 2015.

Video credit to Steve Fiorindo

Joe Ross, RHP, Washington Nationals (traded from Padres)
Fastball: 65/70, Slider: 45/50+, Changeup: 45/50, Command: 45/50, FV: 45

As if two relatively polarizing prospects wasn’t confusing enough, Ross is another Padres prospect with reports that vary a good bit.  The stuff people can agree on: Ross is a very athletic 6’4/205 with a clean arm action, a solid delivery, an explosive fastball (92-95 mph with plus life) and starter traits, along with good pedigree (25th overall pick 2011 out of high school) and bloodlines (younger brother of Tyson Ross).  Some scouts suggest that Ross is a bit soft and question his mental toughness, which jives with the varying reports on his off-speed stuff.

Ross has above average control (think BB rate) but only projects for fringy to average command (think K/BB ratio) because his off-speed stuff varies night to night and he has trouble hitting exact spots with a plan.  I’ve heard future grades range from 45 to 55 (some mention it flashes 60) on his slider, with most scouts agreeing it’s a future average to slightly above pitch, with the same range on the changeup, with most scouts calling it fringy, but he doesn’t throw it much, so I rounded up to average.

On the right night, you may see a 70 fastball, 55 slider, 55 changeup and solid average command and think you’re watching a future #3/4 starter. On other nights, everything is a notch worse and you think you’re seeing an 8th inning reliever.

Ross turned 21 this year and would’ve gone somewhere in the top 2 rounds if he was a draft-eligible college pitcher, but there would’ve been 10 teams that had him pegged for lower rounds and projected as a reliever.   Ross is a solid bet to return big league value and has the traits that scouts like to see to bet on future improvement.  I’m projecting a back-end starter with a big fastball and lots of ground balls.

Jake Bauers, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays (traded from Padres)

Hit: 20/55, Raw Power: 45/45+, Game Power: 20/45, Run: 35/35, Field: 45/50+, Throw: 50/50, FV: 40

Bauers was a low profile name who was overshadowed on his high school travel team, which featured future first rounders Phillies SS J.P. Crawford and Mets 1B Dominic Smith. Bauers is maxed-out physically at 6’1/200, plays first base and only has fringy raw power, but he does just about everything else well.  He is at least average defensively at first base (some scouts suggest he could play a passable left field) and has great makeup to go with one of the most advanced bats in the low minors.  Bauers was young for his draft class and hit .296/376/.414 as an 18-year-old all year in Low-A (128 wRC+), delivering on a common comparison to another first baseman from his same high school, Daric Barton.  Bauers has advanced feel for the strike zone and a super smooth stroke from the left side, but he may only top out around 10-12 homers per year with lots of doubles.  If his bat really plays at higher levels, he could run into more game power and become a James Loney type, but that’s an optimistic outcome.

Burch Smith, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (traded from Padres)

I’m currently working on the Padres list and Smith was looking like he was going to miss the list, but be one of the better names in the others of note section.  Smith is 6’4/215 and moved quickly through the minors after signing for $250,000 out of Oklahoma as a 14th rounder in 2011.  He sits 90-93 and has hit 95 mph with above average life and deception from a lower slot, along with a curveball and changeup that both flash average at times, with the curveball the better of the two.  That gives him a back-end starter’s repertoire, but his command is below average, he’s had some minor arm injuries and the secondary stuff can play closer to fringy at times.  He has some trouble with lefty hitters due to his lower slot and likely fits as a middle reliever, but there’s a chance he could turn into a #5 starter with some adjustments.

Jose Castillo, LHP, San Diego Padres (traded from Rays)

I wrote up Castillo on the Rays list yesterday, leaving him in the others section, but he would’ve been on the back half of the list if he had a healthy season with the same crisp stuff.  The Venezuelan lefty got $1.55 million in the 2013 July 2nd class, sits in the low-90’s and has hit 95 mph with projection left in his strong 6’4/200 frame.  His slurvy breaking ball and changeup are both fringy now, but project for average or even better with maturity.  Castillo’s 2014 campaign was mostly lost due to arm tenderness, but he’s healthy now and threw about 20 solid innings recently in Venezuela’s parallel league at age 18.

Travis Ott, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (traded from Nationals)

Ott and Reyes are throw-ins, but Ott is a nice projection bet as a 6’4/170 lefty that sits 88-91 now and touches 92 mph.  He has a mid-70’s curveball and changeup that are both fringy now, to go with some feel for pitching and a solid delivery.  That isn’t a whole lot right now, so the Rays are hoping the velocity ticks up a couple notches and he looks like a different pitcher in a few years; the broad physical indicators are there for that to possibly happen.  Ott was a nice find for the Nationals as a high school draftee in the 25th round in 2013 that signed for a $10,000 bonus.

Gerardo Reyes, RHP, San Diego Padres (traded from Rays)

Reyes is an undersized 5’11/180 righty that went undrafted out of a Texas JC but showed well in his pro debut at short-season Hudson Valley for the Rays.  He works 92-94 and can run it up to 96 mph with an inconsistent slider that flashes average.  His delivery is just okay and combines with his low 3/4 arm slot make him a relief fit long-term and it’s likely he’s just as an org guy, but there’s less dreaming to be done on Reyes, so he’s lower in the prospect ranking world.  Reyes is Mexican-born and got a $15,000 bonus as an undrafted free agent in August, 2013.

Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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7 years ago

Random question, but with Turner staying in the Padres organization until June, could he theoretically play in the major leagues for San Diego in April/May, or does being on a 25 man roster negate that? Not that that particular scenario will happen, but if the Royals, for instance, wanted to trade Brandon Finnegan, would he technically have to be a player to be named until June 28 (when he signed) or would the fact he’s been on a 25 man roster change that at all?

matt w
7 years ago
Reply to  eric3287

According to the link you get if you click here, “If a ‘Player to Be Named Later’ (PTBNL) is part of a trade, the PTBNL cannot be on an MLB 25-man roster (MLB Active List) at any time starting when the trade is executed up until the PTBNL is announced. Clubs have six months to agree on a PTBNL.” So it looks like the Royals would have to send Finnegan down in order to PTBNL him. (I’m pretty sure this is a rule change sometime within the past ten years, as in 2005 John McDonald was supposedly traded for himself–though Retrosheet lists the deal as McDonald from the Blue Jays to the Tigers for future considerations and then Tigers sold McDonald to the Blue Jays so maybe it wasn’t a technical PTBNL.