Projecting the Prospects in the Mike Montgomery Trade

We all knew Dan Vogelbach’s days in the Cubs’ organization were numbered. His lackluster range limit to first base, and if we’re being serious, even that’s a stretch. He didn’t have a future with the Cubs. Not only do they lack a DH, but they also have more quality hitters than they have lineup spots. A trade was imminent, and the Cubs finally pulled the trigger on Wednesday night, dealing the 23-year-old slugger for unheralded — yet effective — reliever Mike Montgomery and Double-A hurler Paul Blackburn. Triple-A pitcher Jordan Pries also heads to Chicago in the deal.

Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Seattle (Profile)

KATOH Forecast for first six seasons: 2.8 WAR

Vogelbach offers zero defensive value, which means he’ll need to hit a lot to get by in the big leagues. To his credit, however, his exploits in the minors this year suggest he might hit enough to make for a productive DH. He’s slashed a gaudy .318/.425/.548 in Triple-A, and has little left to prove in the minor leagues. KATOH isn’t crazy about Vogelbach on account of his defensive limitations, lack of speed and iffy contact numbers. Vogelbach’s power is excellent, but the other facets of his game threaten to chip away at his value.

Dan Vogelbach’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Mah Dist Name Proj.WAR Actual.WAR
1 4.7 Todd Helton 2.6 33.4
2 6.1 Kevin Witt 1.4 0.0
3 7.7 Mario Valdez 1.5 0.1
4 8.1 Joey Votto 3.6 33.3
5 9.3 Kevin Barker 1.7 0.0
6 10.2 J.T. Snow 2.6 5.0
7 11.8 Eric Karros 2.1 10.2
8 12.2 Nick Johnson 3.6 12.5
9 13.3 Nate Rolison 2.7 0.0
10 14.6 Ron Witmeyer 1.4 0.0


Paul Blackburn, RHP, Seattle (Profile)

KATOH Forecast for first six seasons: 1.2 WAR

In addition to Vogelbach, the Mariners also landed 22-year-old right-hander Phil Blackburn in the deal. Pitching at the Double-A level this year, Blackburn has compiled over 100 innings at a 3.17 ERA clip. While his peripherals more or less back up those results, his 17% strikeout rate underwhelms — and suggests he may never hack it in a big-league rotation. Perhaps he’ll make for an alright reliever, but KATOH sees little potential for much more than that.

Paul Blackburn’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Mah Dist Player Proj. WAR Actual WAR
1 1.0 Mike Esposito 1.0 0.0
2 1.0 Pedro Astacio 0.8 12.3
3 1.3 Nate Bump 0.7 0.1
4 1.4 Cesar Ramos 0.7 0.6
5 1.4 Paul Menhart 0.7 0.4
6 1.4 Heath Phillips 1.5 0.0
7 1.6 Horacio Ramirez 1.2 3.3
8 1.6 David Pauley 1.1 0.4
9 1.7 Rich Hunter 0.7 0.0
10 1.7 C.J. Wilson 1.2 2.8


Jordan Pries, RHP, Chicago (Profile)

KATOH Forecast for first six seasons: 0.8 WAR

Pries is arguably the least interesting player included in the trade. Though he’s pitched relatively well (4.93 ERA; 3.54 FIP) between Double-A and Triple-A this year, he has a track record of minor league mediocrity. This, along with the fact that he’s already 26, renders him a very fringy prospect.

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

So you’re saying he isn’t much of a *puts sunglasses on* Pries?

6 years ago
Reply to  booj11

This took me a second because I’ve been pronouncing his name the Germanic way, voicing the second vowel. So that sent me to his B-Ref page, which suggests it is indeed pronounced preez. A for effort, though.