Scouting The Prospects In the Zobrist/Papelbon Trades

In case you missed it, I’ve broken down the prospects in the Tyler Clippard (A’s to Mets) deal and the Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies to Blue Jays) trade. I’ll catch up here on yesterday’s deals, breaking down the prospects involved in the Ben Zobrist (A’s to Royals), Jonathan Papelbon (Phillies to Nationals), David DeJesus (Rays to Angels), and David Murphy (Indians to Angels) trades.

Sean Manaea, LHS, Oakland A’s, FV: 50

Manaea is a very interesting case for evaluators to crack. He was a largely unknown power lefty with little else to offer as a sophomore at Indiana State, then he blew up that summer on the Cape, sitting 91-95 and hitting 97 mph with life and deception. He was a projected top-five pick before a terrible spring, caused by bad weather, inconsistent mechanics and bothersome arm soreness to go with a more serious hip injury.

The Royals took the late-rising Hunter Dozier with their top pick, signing him to an under slot deal to save money so they could take Manaea, hoping he’d last to their pick at 34 due to his injuries and price tag, which he did. Kansas City signed Manaea for $3.55 million (over a million more than Dozier) and he sat out the rest of the 2013 season with hip surgery, making his pro debut in 2014 at High at age-22.

Manaea was almost all the way back to his old self in 2014, carving up the league after coming off the DL and especially standing out down the stretch in his last 10 starts.  He sat 91-94 mph with an above average to plus slider and a changeup, which used to be his third pitch, more consistently flashing above average. He flashes average to slightly above command at his best, but is still learning the nuances of pitching.

Manaea has missed most of this year with groin and oblique injuries, the kind of soft tissue issues that when they start stacking up start to point to problem staying healthy. He’s flashed the same mid-rotation stuff for parts of his 31.2 innings this year, but the changeup still isn’t as consistent as it should be. At age-23 with two starts above A-Ball, Manaea is creeping into “take a waiver on an injury concern guy with upside” type guy than a “he’s a fast-track #3 starter with little more than normal pitcher risk.” I spoke with a scout after the trade that said he’d move Manaea to the 70-100 area of a top 100 (he was 37th and a 55 FV before this season) and I have to move his FV down a notch to 50, which would slot him right around there.

Nick Pivetta, RHS, Philadelphia Phillies, FV: 40

Pivetta was an arm strength 4th rounder out of a Juco in 2013 that showed some idea of how to pitch, but has made strides in that area since signing. He sits 92-94 and hits 96 mph with a slider that’s slurvy but above average at times, along with a curveball and changeup that are fringy. Pivetta has a durable workhorse frame and low miles on his arm as a Canadian that’s become a legit prospect in the last couple years. He’s a control over command guy that has a chance to stick as a back-end starter if he can be more consistent. Pivetta has performed this year about the same as last year and still projects as a back-end starter (if things go well) or a 7th inning/swing man (if they go a little worse).

Aaron Brooks, RHR, Oakland A’s, FV: 35

Eduar Lopez, RHR, Tampa Bay Rays, FV: 35

Eric Stamets, SS, Cleveland Indians, FV: 35

I’ll take the rest of these guys in a group since they currently won’t be on a list (35 FV is the grade for players mentioned in the others of note section) but are all good enough to be considered prospects. Brooks is a big righty reliever that’s had some big league time and works with average stuff along with some feel that turn into a solid 7th inning guy with some slight adjustments. His flyball tendency will play better in Oakland’s big park, so he’ll likely maximize his chance for that upside with the A’s. Lopez is a 20-year-old starter in a short-season league that sits 90-93 and hits 94 in longer outings but should touch a bit higher in short stints as he fits best long-term as a reliever. His curveball is also above average and a scout I spoke with mentioned his good makeup, but the command is below average. I wrote up Stamets on the Angels list entering the year and the report still stands: “he’s an easy plus defender and runner and he’ll be in Triple-A next year, but the bat is light and there’s very little power, so the upside is utility guy and he may be more of an emergency, glove-first type.”

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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Bobby Ayala
6 years ago

Can you elaborate on Brooks a bit– you’re not the only one to seemingly dismiss him as a starter, but his AAA numbers this year as a starter are pretty decent and the A’s are calling him up to start Saturday– is there something about his makeup that precludes him from being in the rotation long term?

Baseball Guy
6 years ago
Reply to  Bobby Ayala

Presumably like all minor league starters that become major league relievers, he doesn’t have the stuff — either absolute stuff or variety — to get through a major league lineup more than once in a game.

state the obvious
6 years ago
Reply to  Baseball Guy

kyle hendricks makes it work. really all comes down to movement and command with guys that have fringe stuff.

Shirtless George Brett
6 years ago
Reply to  Bobby Ayala

Yeah thats pretty much the answer. I have seen Brooks pitch on a couple of occasions and he is pretty ordinary. I suspect, much like the previous commenter, that people peg him as a reliver because his stuff will play much better 1 inning at a time as opposed to 5+.