In case you missed it, I’ve broken down the prospects in the Johnny Cueto (Reds to Royals) trade, Scott Kazmir (A’s to Astros) trade, Tyler Clippard (A’s to Mets) deal, the Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies to Blue Jays) trade and in one post yesterday covered the prospects in the deals of Ben Zobrist (A’s to Royals), Jonathan Papelbon (Phillies to Nationals), David DeJesus (Rays to Angels), and David Murphy (Indians to Angels) trades. This morning I wrote up the deal sending Cole Hamels from the Phillies to the Rangers. Here’s the breakdown of the 3-for-1 David Price deal sending him to Toronto, and I bet I’ll write a few more of these.
Everyone is going to compare this trade to the Johnny Cueto deal since it’s one rental MLB ace for three minor-league lefties. I gave Finnegan, Reed and Lamb 55, 50 and 40 FV grades, respectively — with all of them pretty close to the big leagues — while the combination Norris, Labourt and Boyd received 55, 50 and 45+ FV grades, with Labourt the farthest away of the six (although not by much). I’d lean to the Price haul and I’d lean strongly that way if Norris can work out his delivery issues.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Detroit Tigers, FV: 55
Coming into this year, Norris was riding a wave of positive momentum after a non-descript start to his pro career, itself coming on the heels of a $2 million bonus in the second round in 2011 out of a Tennessee high school. The big question on Norris coming into pro ball was his delivery and those questions still exist now, even though they disappeared in the second half of 2014 when he steamrolled his way to the big leagues from A-Ball.
The above video is when I saw a so-so Norris start in A-Ball last year and he was locking his front knee, elevating and missing spots up, but his pure stuff and athleticism was enough to get good results. In other starts in 2014, he put it all together and needed to go to the big leagues for a challenge.
I talked to a source that saw Norris earlier this season and he said, like in my look last year, there’s still four pitches that range from solid average to plus (91-95 mph, 60 curveball, 55 slider, 50+ changeup) and command that’s solid average at its best, but still below average too often right now to be a big-league contributor. The cause appears to be Norris’ delivery and more specifically his direction to the plate and consistent syncing of the delivery, with which he’s made a lot of progress since his high school days. I’ve never been a fan of a locking knee and crossfire elements unless they’re absolutely necessary, so hopefully Detroit can help him make the necessary adjustments to hit his ceiling of a #2/3 starter.
I had Norris as a 60 FV and 17th overall in the game entering the season, but with the delivery issues cropping up again, I’ve moved him down a notch but probably still within the top 50 in baseball.
Jairo Labourt, LHP, Detroit Tigers, FV: 50
Labourt has made slow but real progress since signing for $350,000 out of the Dominican in 2011. Last year, he sat 91-94 and hit 95 mph, mixing in a 55 slider and enough changeup and command to project as a starter, especially with a 6-foot-4/205-pound frame and, at 20 years old, his youth. His numbers this year haven’t been great, but the 21-year-old lefty has even more stuff now, sitting 94-97 mph in his inning in the Futures Game with an even harder slider at 85-89 mph — and he even mixed in an average changeup at 87 mph.
Labourt is big and has what scouts call a high-maintenance body. His command still wavers and he falls in love with his velo at times, along with other typical kid stuff, like not hiding the fact that he didn’t like the cold in Low-A Lansing and short-season Vancouver. Sometimes this sort of prospect never figures it out and becomes a 7th/8th-inning reliever and sometimes everything clicks, he loses the bad weight and turns into the terror that he shows in glimpses now. Labourt was 12th in a deep Jays organization entering the year as a 45 FV and the new velo prompted me to bump him into the 50 FV group, but probably at the bottom of that tier (100-140 among all prospects) until he shows more progress. There’s #3 starter upside and it could all come together at any time, but there’s still some stuff on which the Tigers development will have to work with a talent that would’ve easily been a 1st rounder this past year when comparing him to his peers (college juniors).
Matt Boyd, LHP, Detroit Tigers, FV: 45+
Boyd follows in the footsteps of Jacob Nottingham as a fringe prospect that jumped into top-200 consideration this year with big improvements. I talked to a scout about Boyd when the buzz was building early in the season and answered a question about him in a chat shortly thereafter:
Just talked to a scout that saw him a few weeks back. His velo jumped this year from 88-92 t94 to 91-94 t96 and the solid average off-speed is now above average, sometimes flashing better. He signed for 75K as a senior from Oregon State who had his velo bump as a senior, then again two years later. Basically unprecedented as far as I know. He’s at least a high 45 FV now, probably closer to 50 FV. When the scout was telling me what he saw, I made him repeat everything because it was so hard to believe.
So that’s what he is: above-average-stuff lefty with some funk, a far cry from the utility lefty I described entering the year. Predictably, Boyd rushed his way to the big leagues as a pitchability lefty that magically got two notches more stuff and he’s learning how to use these new weapons, but I’d imagine he’ll be a solid back-end starter soon with a slight chance he could have enough funk/feel/pitchabilty to be even better. Boyd was a 40 FV entering the year and is now a 45+ FV, which would put him in the 140-200 range on a top-200 list based on last year’s edition of the same thing — although Boyd would probably be at the better end of that range.
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.