Prospect Watch: Deadline Acquisitions

Each weekday during the minor-league season, FanGraphs is providing a status update on multiple rookie-eligible players. Note that Age denotes the relevant prospect’s baseball age (i.e. as of July 1st of the current year); Top-15, the prospect’s place on Marc Hulet’s preseason organizational list; and Top-100, that same prospect’s rank on Hulet’s overall top-100 list.

James Ramsey, OF, Cleveland Indians (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 24.7   Top-15: 7th   Top-100: N/A
Line: (Double-A, Cardinals) 11.0% BB%, 23.5% SO%, ..300/.389/.527 (161 wRC+)

Speculation led most observers to believe the Cardinals were among the front runners to acquire Jon Lester or David Price. Then, without warning, the red birds and and Cleveland announced they had swapped Justin Masterson for former first round selection James Ramsey.

In 2012, Ramsey was in the first draft under the current collective bargaining agreement. As a college senior with few options as lucrative as professional baseball, one would have thought Ramsey was the prototypical below-slot selection. Yet, Ramsey did well for himself, signing for $1.6M dollars — just $175K below slot. The Florida State outfielder was immediately shipped to the Palm Beach Cardinals (High-A) where he struggled. Last year, the Cardinals began his first full season on a more traditional path. He began in Rookie Ball, returned to Palm Beach and was promoted to Double-A Springfield before playing a final game with Triple-A Memphis. Four levels!

Ramsey profiles as a table settler who Cleveland may utliaze as a right fielder due to his strong arm. He could also play center which would shift Michael Brantley back to left field, where he has played predominately since last season. The most intriguing part of Ramsey’s game is his power surge. Hardly a slugger, Ramsey has hit 31 home runs during the past two seasons.  Should that power continue Ramsey will shed any notion that he is a fourth outfielder, but it’s likely his power will return to being a tick below average as a big leaguer.

Edwin Escobar, LHSP, Boston Red Sox (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 22.3  Top-15: 2nd Top-100: N/A
Line: (Triple-A, Giants) 111.0 IP,  7.78 K/9,  3.00 BB/9, 1.30 HR/9, 5.11 ERA, 4.98 FIP

The Red Sox acquired Escobar and Heath Hembree from the Giants in exchange for Jake Peavy. At this point, Peavy isn’t a difference maker but he should eat innings for San Francisco while Matt Cain is unavailable.  Escobar, a left-handed starter, was acquired by the Giants in a trade for the Texas Rangers’ Ben Snyder in 2010. In Escobar the Red Sox have acquired a solid mid to back rotation starter that could bolster their rotation as early as this season.
Escobar’s first stellar performance came in 2012,  but his break out was last season with Double-A Richmond of the Eastern League. Escobar’s profile is similar to many other left-handed starters. He’s known for his advanced feel and ability to throw strikes with his low 90s fastball. He will also mix in a changeup and a slider.
Escobar has struggled this season, but the Pacific Coast League has terrorized many starters. He should be assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket in the International League in short order. With Lester traded to the As, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the Red Sox to callup Escobar immediately. 

Heath Hembree, RHRP, Boston Red Sox (Profile)
Level: MLB   Age: 30.5   Top-15: N/A Top-100: N/A
Line: (Triple-A) 61.0 IP, 9.00 K/9, 2.36 BB/9, 1.03 HR/9, 3.70 FIP

The Red Sox also acquired another Major League ready player in relief pitcher Heath Hembree. Once dubbed the “Closer of the Future” for the Giants by Baseball America, the former 5th round selection will now need to dethrone Koji Uehara to assume that title with Boston. Should the Red Sox require, Hembree can contribute immediately as he’s been good this season and still projects to be a high leverage reliever.
Hembree couples a mid to high 90s fastball with a slider. As with most hard throwing relievers, command can be an issue at times but Hembree throws strikes and don’t have the base on balls issues that a Bruce Rondon or Vic Black have. Last season, during Hembree’s debut with San Francisco there was cause for concern has Hembree’s velocity had dipped into the low 90s.  However, his velocity has returned in 2014 so long as there is no lingering, dormant injury, the Sox have acquired a valuable chip —  a hard throwing cheap reliever they control for the next half decade.

Formerly of Bullpen Banter, JD can be followed on Twitter.

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8 years ago

The return for Peavy is truly remarkable when you consider his body of work for two years running. He is known to be a great teammate and possesses a competitive fire that is second to none, but he is on the 17th green and putting for bogey.