The prospect package acquired from Los Angeles in exchange for Manny Machado is deep on warm bodies who are likely to wear a big-league uniform and produce some kind of value. One or two of those new Orioles has a realistic chance of producing two wins or better annually and making enough noise to drown out the howls of a fanbase that’s losing its most talented player since Cal Ripken.
The collection of talent sent to Baltimore is headlined by 21-year-old Cuban OF Yusniel Diaz and 22-year-old righty Dean Kremer, the latter of whom had recently been promoted to Double-A. Up-and-down utility infielder Breyvic Valera, 21-year-old reliever Zach Pop, and 21-year-old breakout performer INF Rylan Bannon were also acquired in the deal.
Diaz, whom Kiley and I saw this weekend at the Futures Game, is a career .288 hitter who leaves behind a .314/.428/.477 slash line at Double-A Tulsa. Diaz homered twice on Sunday, once to right-center, once to left-center, and had one of the better batting-practice sessions on the World team.
For all that, Diaz hasn’t exhibited much over-the-fence power as a professional, even during his 165-game stay in the Cal League between 2016 and -17. He’s an all-fields line-drive hitter who keeps his hands inside the ball and peppers the right-center-field gap. He’s much more likely to display doubles power in games, which could cap his ceiling a bit, as the offensive bar in left field, where Diaz projects due to speed and arm-strength limitations, is quite high.
There are indications that Diaz might have the means to produce offensively despite a lack of big game power. He has more walks than strikeouts at Double-A this year and could be a premium contact/on-base hitter with gap power. He’s very likely to hit and therefore is very likely to be a big-league contributor, but he looks more like a solid-average regular than a potential star based on how he’s performed thus far. Industry opinion of Diaz’s power remains closer to our preseason assessment (where we put a future 45 on it) and doesn’t correspond with the display on Sunday. If that’s what Diaz is moving forward, our 45+ FV grade is going to be light.
Dean Kremer has pretty narrow range of likely outcomes, ranging from back-end starter to middle reliever. He has a four-pitch mix led by a fastball in the 92-95 range that will touch 97 at times, as well as solid-average overhand curveball. His slider and changeup are both fringey right now, but if Kremer can improve the change and better locate his fasball to his arm side as a way to set it up, then he’ll be fine as a rotation piece. If not, he doesn’t have much recourse against left-handed hitters and would probably be relegated to the bullpen. There’s also a possibility Kremer’s breaking-ball usage and command improve to a point where he can attack lefties without the changeup, the way pitchers like Patrick Corbin, Nick Pivetta, and Robbie Ray. This is a less typical developmental path, but it is becoming more common.
The rest of the players involved in the deal are likely to fill lesser big-league roles. Breyvic Valera was acquired from St. Louis as shortstop depth after the Corey Seager injury in exchange for OF Johan Mieses. He’s a 50 defender at short and can make contact but produces so little power that he’s limited to a bench role. RHP Zach Pop is a low-slot reliever who has a spotty injury history and a violent delivery. Assuming he stays healthy, he’s very likely to be a reliever with a mid-90s fastball and frisbee slider that causes right-handed hitters’ skin to crawl.
The piece in the deal with the largest error bar is 2B/3B Rylan Bannon, who has put up huge offensive numbers at two hitter-friendly locales since he was drafted out of Xavier in the eighth round of last year’s draft. He has some power generated, in part, by a big, exaggerated leg kick and a low hand load that enables him to lift the ball despite a flat-planed swing. He’s vulnerable up in the strike zone and has middling bat control, but as a decent defensive fit at either second or third, there’s a chance he hits for enough power to fit, perhaps part time, at either position. Scouts generally have him written up as a try-hard bench piece, but this is the guy whose stats and scouting report are most incongruous of the players acquired by Baltimore.
As far as Future Values go, Diaz is a 45+ for us right now and was only left off our recent top 131 due to his lack of power output in games, which is a concern for a likely left fielder. He projects as an average regular. Kremer, Pop, and Valera are all 40 FV players, with Kremer having the best chance to outpace that mark if he develops a way to deal with lefties. Pop and Valera are high-probability big leaguers almost certainly ticketed for lesser roles. Bannon is a 35+ FV as a likely org guy with a chance to transform a few niche attributes into something more than that.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.