While Brad Hand will certainly fetch the Padres a huge prospect return when traded, the other trade chips on San Diego’s roster are a lot less likely to do so.
However, the Friars still have a great opportunity, as the club can steal massively talented, yet underrated prospects. After all, Preller showed last year, with the acquisition of Fernando Tatis Jr., that such an approach can reap large benefits.
As such, here are some prospects the team should focus on acquiring:
A 21-year-old in the D-backs’ farm system, Marcus Wilson has a lot of potential and could end up being a steal for the Snakes, who drafted him 69th in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft. Although the young man has spent almost three years in rookie ball, he has a five-tool profile. Armed with 65-grade speed, Wilson stole 25 bases last year and is at 10 as of today.
However, the more impressive feat that speed has allowed him to accomplish is a high on-base percentage. As a speedster, this player has been able to take advantage of supposed groundouts and reach base nearly 40% of the time. Besides quick feet, a powerful stroke has become part of Wilson’s game this year. In 243 at-bats in full A ball, the D-back has gone deep eight times and has hit for extra bases 25 times, eight more than last season.
While he may never have above-average power, his patience at the plate will allow him to use all of what he has. In fact, this year the 2014 draftee has walked 38 times and has limited his strikeout total to only 56. Such an approach has given him the ability to get on base at a high clip and utilize every ounce of strength he possesses.
Turning our attention to Wilson’s defensive play, the prospect has merely average skills in the field. He neither excels in arm strength, with just four assists, nor fielding ability, with a fielding percentage of .965. But he is almost surely going to stay in center long term. Lastly, Wilson is a dedicated, patient young man, and the fact that he continued working hard in rookie ball for three years before he advanced, speaks volumes about his character. While some players get less motivated and show less impact with such development, Wilson took the three years with strength. Thus, he is someone who could entice Preller to trade a reliever to Arizona, which relies heavily on 40-year-old closer Fernando Rodney, long-term rotation piece Archie Bradley, and dominant lefty Andrew Chafin.
Before the Cubs swung a trade for Jose Quintana, the team was predicted to look heavily into the relief pitching market, specifically from the lefty class. With only one left-handed reliever, the Chicago Cubs could certainly use a player like Ryan Buchter.
Although Buchter’s ERA of 3.12 is solid, his FIP of 4.70 could scare potential suitors. Thus, the Padres should look at other teams’ lesser prospects for Buchter even though he isn’t a free agent until 2022. Although the sound of getting a lesser prospect for our second left-hander in the pen is disappointing, there is still a ton of value that we can get for him. One such value player that the Friars could trade for is Adbert Alzolay.
Signed in November 2012 out of Venezuela, Alzolay led the Rookie Venezuelan Summer League in ERA (1.07), opponent’s batting average (.201), and WHIP (.88) during his 2013 debut. In his next three seasons, the Venezuelan was inconsistent, bouncing between the rotation and bullpen as well as between tossing a 7.90 ERA in 2014, 2.04 in 2015, and 4.56 in 2016. This year, however, he has completed 16 starts in A+ and AA ball with a cumulative 2.98 ERA, 1.065 WHIP, and 3.46 FIP. During this stretch, he has shown a plus fastball with some run, an above-average curveball with solid depth, and a decent change up. To get the most out of his pitches, Alzolay has become an above-average command and control artist. In 86.2 innings this year, he has walked only 23 batters, a slightly below 3.00 BB/9 rate. Meanwhile, he has struck out 88 hitters and shown the dominance needed to be a No. 3 starter. Therefore, giving up Buchter for Alzolay could be a great move for San Diego.
The Houston Astros are an absolute beast, with an offense that leads MLB in most categories and a great pitching staff led by Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. in the rotation and Ken Giles and Chris Devenski in the pen. Yet, they do have a weakness. The team’s only lefty in the pen is Tony Sipp, and he is struggling this year with a 3.95 ERA.
A pitcher like Buchter can help them. In return, shortstop Freudis Nova ought to come over. A 2016-2017 international signee, Nova is a 17-year-old on the Astros’ DSL team, so he’s a risky talent. But his five-tool potential should garner enough attention for the Padres to trade for him. Also, he has done very well in his debut, slashing .279/.421/.765 while hitting one home run and stealing three bases. He has also walked ten times compared to striking out twelve times, showing plate discipline beyond his years and capable of propelling him through the minors.
Meanwhile, what was once rated as below-average defense has quickly turned into above-average tools. His arm is easily plus, his hands are okay, and his athleticism allows him to be a good defender, able to stay at shortstop for the long haul. Although he has a bad .825 fielding percentage, his range factor per nine is 4.13, signifying how he could improve with time. Overall, he would be a great pick up for the Friars.
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