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Trading Gems

One of the things that the NDRO has shown this year is the willingness to make a trade, no matter the player, as long as the players that we got in return were worthwhile. With our 3 biggest trades, the 2 with the Dodgers during the season and the one with the Astros, the players that were considered add-ons are starting to look like the "centerpieces" of the trades. Using past knowledge from our Front Office's past jobs, we looked picked specific prospects that fit the mold that we're looking for in hitters/pitchers.

-In the trade with the Dodgers that sent Hall and Hendrickson to the would-be contenders in LA, we liked the possible "franchise" catcher in oft-traded Dioneer Navarro(who is a vast upgrade over both Hall and Paul) and the very enigmatic, yet intriguing Jae Seo. However, what most forget is that we also got a nice PTBNL in the trade when we also acquired a key OF in Southern League Rival Jacksonville's Justin Ruggiano. Ruggiano is considered to be "old" for his league(being 24 in AA), but he's never repeated a level(drafted out of college) and gets on-base at a decent clip with nice power. Could turn out to be a possible 4th OF in the Big Leagues, when/if he makes it to the Majors. Nice hitter to watch.

-In the trade that sent the ever so lovable Aubrey Huff netted us Solid Fielding "Future Utility Guy" Ben Zobrist and "The Godfather" Mitch Talbot from Houston. Ben zipped through the minors quickly and made it up when Lugo got traded. We knew Ben's track record and we pretty much think of him as a "gap-filler" at SS until someone is ready/acquired to take that spot. He's hit for unexpected power(plenty of doubles and a very unexpected 2 HRs) and played solid SS for a player that we thought had little-to-no defensive range at his position.

With Talbot, we got much more than we ever expected from him. Talbot was a highly thought of Houston pitcher who had fallen on hard times, but starting to turn things around again. Talbot, through use of a 3rd pitch or some sort of divine intervention, started K'ing more batters and started to pull himself out of pressure situations that had troubled him before. With a decent 3.39 ERA in a very hitter-friendly Texas, he got even better when he got shipped over to the pitcher-friendly Southern League(where his ERA was 1.90 in 10 starts). Many believe that use of a much-improved Slider is the cause for these spikes of dominance. Right now opposing teams in the Southern League Playoffs have yet to get the book on Talbot, seeing that he's pitch 2 consecutive CG 5-hitters in which he's struck out 25 batters and walked only 2. The Rays already had a "Big 3" in McGee, Davis and Walker...but are we overlooking another in Niemann, Talbot and Sonnanstine(who statistically was the best pitcher in the Southern League this year)?

-In our Deadline-beating trade that sent fan favorite Julio Lugo to our favorite trade partner, LA, we acquired 2 hitting prospects who seem to be polar opposites. When this trade was made, Rays fans thought that Joel Guzman was the key part of this trade? Why not think that? He was signed when he was 16 and has turned into a giant with multi-positional versatility(or ineptitude, depending on how you look at it). Guzman is a hulking 6'6" and projects to have superstar-level power when he hits his peak. Hey, when we got him, I liked what we got in him. He's 21, at AAA, and has a loaded weapon in his bat when he puts the effort in it. I just wondered where he fit...

Again, there I went, overlooking what else we got in this deal. Sergio Pedroza, I thought to myself, who is this guy? He's small in stature, old for his level(22) and not really known for being a good fielder...why get him over a pitching prospect, seeing that LA has plenty of them and I'm guesing that a few of the good ones are expendable? Well, for a guy that's below the 6' mark and couldn't hit 200 lbs on a scale soaking wet, he's got pop. I don't mean 15 HR pop, I mean 25-30 HR pop. He hit 32 combined last year between college and the minors(16 in College, 16 in LA's lower levels) and hit 28 this year(split between 3 teams) Now you're gonna tell me, "With that much power and the shorter stature, he's got to have a problem with strikeouts." That's kinda true, he averaged about a strikeout a game and will swing or take a pitch...which ends up in getting struck out. However, with Sergio, he's got a very keen eye. For the season, he walked 101 times. Doing research, not very extensive though, I've found only a few current major leaguers who had 100+ walk seasons when they were in the minors. Nick Swisher, Nick Johnson and Adam Dunn were those current major leaguers.

Now the thing about Serg is, he's got the eye which consistently translated to high OBPs. Tango Tiger's "The Book" introduced me to a stat, wOBA(weighted on-base average), in which it combines many factors in hitting skills that show how effecient a hitter is. Well, Serg's wOBA for this past season was around .415ish...which makes him a very, very polished minor league hitter. He may not have the skills to surpass any of the Rays OF defensively, but he could become a good 4th OF/DH if he makes it to the majors.