Ranking the talented prospects moved during deadline week
The non-waiver trading deadline has come and gone, and though there were some big names dealt, led by Ubaldo Jimenez (now with the Indians) and Carlos Beltran (now a Giant), the deadline brought far more trades involving complimentary and role players such as centerfielder Michael Bourn, starters Edwin Jackson and Doug Fister and relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. Even Hunter Pence, the only 2011 All-Star other than Beltran to switch teams in July, is arguably
The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Pomeranz is a stud starting pitching prospect and the key to the deal that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians even though, officially, he's not in it yet. MLB rules say Pomeranz isn't eligible to be traded until one year after he signed so he'll technically be the player to be named later once he is eligible in a few weeks. Drafted out of the University of Mississippi, the 22-year-old Pomeranz is a 6-foot-5 lefty with mid-90s heat and a devastating curveball who is working on developing his changeup and refining his control. He made his professional debut at High-A this April and had already been promoted to Double-A before he was flipped to the Rockies. Along the way, he posted a 1.98 ERA and struck out 11.1 men per nine innings in 18 professional starts. He'll likely need another season in the minors to refine his stuff and stretch out his innings, but he has emerged as one of the top pitching prospects in the game this year and could well emerge as the next Rockies ace as soon as 2013.
The 21-year-old Cosart was the Phillies' top pitching prospect, and immediately takes over that spot in the weaker Astros system. A lanky, 6-foot-3 lefty from the Houston suburb of League City, Cosart has a similar repertoire to Pomeranz (mid-90s fastball, wicked curve, and a superior changeup) and nearly as much potential, but he has yet to dominate his minor league competition in the same way. Cosart struck out more than a man per inning in his first two professional seasons and had a 4.81 K/BB in the Sally League last year at age 20 in what was his first year in a full-season league. At High-A this year, however, his strikeout rate has dropped, his walks have increased, and his results have been mediocre (3.92 ERA, 1.31 WHIP). Still, he has front-of-the-rotation potential and now that he's with the Astros, he can take as much time as he needs to fulfill it.
Another 21-year-old righty, Wheeler was the sixth-overall pick in the 2009 draft and possess a nasty fastball that spikes to 97 miles per hour with sink and a hard curve that gives him front-of-the-rotation potential. However, like Cosart, the results haven't been there at High-A thus far this year. Wheeler is getting his strikeouts, more than 10 per nine innings over his two professional seasons and exactly that many this year, but he has walked roughly half that many while posting a 3.99 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. He trails Pomeranz in the development of a third pitch and has been susceptible to lefties due to his three-quarters arm angle, but unlike Pomeranz and Cosart, his ultimate destination is now a very friendly ballpark in which to pitch, and while he may be further away from reaching his ceiling, it is arguably just as high as those other two.
Singleton is a brutal defender with no speed, but those are minor drawbacks compared to the potential in his left-handed bat. Just 19 years old, Singleton is a career .288/.391/.447 hitter in the minor leagues and was hitting .284/.387/.413 in the offense-stifling home park of High-A Clearwater prior to the trade. A solid 6-foot-2, he has significant power potential, and his approach at the plate is already better than that of half the men in the majors (did I mention he's only 19?). That allows the Astros to project him as a middle-of-the-order masher worthy of that status on a contending team, which the Astros now have a much better chance of assembling with Cosart and Singleton in the pipeline.
White, the 15th pick in the 2009 draft, is the only man on this list to have cracked the majors, though he has been on the disabled list since spraining the middle finger on his pitching hand throwing a slider in just his third major league start back in late May. Nonetheless, he projects as a solid mid-rotation innings-eater thanks to his low-90s sinker and a good changeup, and his nasty split-finger suggests he could be even more than that. Most importantly, though his potential isn't as great as the top three pitchers on this list, he is much closer to realizing it. White, who is in the midst of a rehab assignment, will turn 23 at the end of August and should be in the Rockies rotation next year if not before.
The Rangers third-round pick in 2009, Erlin doesn't have the pure stuff to compare to Pomeranz, Cosart, Wheeler, or even White's splitter, but he has shown an impressive ability to get the most out of his more pedestrian repertoire thanks to remarkable control (just 30 walks in 240 professional innings, good for a 1.1 BB/9) and tremendous mound presence. In addition to his outstanding control, Erlin has struck out more than a man per inning as a pro, resulting in a Halladay-like 8.57 K/BB, a ratio he has thus far surpassed in 10 starts at Double-A at the age of 20. That dominance in the strike zone has been undermined slightly by an excess of home runs, but now that he's headed toward Petco Park rather than the Ballpark in Arlington, that's less of a concern.
Part of the three-team trade that sent Erik Bedard to the Red Sox as the clock struck 4 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Robinson is an athletic centerfielder who has made great strides at the plate over the last three seasons. Drafted out of high school way back in 2005, Robinson didn't post an OPS over 800 in his first four professional seasons, but over the last three, spanning High-A to Triple-A, he has hit .298/.384/.494, hitting for average with both patience and power (though his 26 home runs this season are surely the result of playing for Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League). Robinson, who will be 24 on September 1, could still stand to make similar strides in translating his great speed into high-percentage basestealing and something other than a cover for his bad routes in the field, but he nonetheless looks ready to be a part of the Mariners outfield immediately and projects as a valuable leadoff man for the post-Ichiro M's