The A’s add more major league ready weapons in Montas Swap

© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland clawed back a major comeback in trade that sent the powerful combination of Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino to the Yankees on Monday afternoon. The deal is headlined by two of the top 100 prospects, left-hander Ken Waldichuk and right-hander Luis Medina, and is completed by near-ready running back JP Sears and A-ball second baseman Cooper Bowman. All three pitchers are essentially big league ready, with Medina and Sears already on the 40-man roster, and Waldichuk a post-season lock set to debut next year.

The youngest of that trio is Medina, a 23-year-old flamethrower who has been an import prospect for more than half a decade, stepping on the choke/relief balance beam all the time. Now at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, he’s made 17 starts (he typically works four to five innings at a time and has maxed six times this season) while posting a 3.38 ERA, his third level consecutive where he posted an ERA of less than 4.00. While he’s always struggled with steps (he’s been at least five steps for nine guys his entire career) and overall consistency, Medina’s stuff makes him tough to face and causes a lot of ground balls (50 %GB%). His fastball has been in the mid to high 90s his entire career and is again parked in the 94-98mph range this season, peaking at 102.

The low 80s curveball and the high 80s Medina change each flash more, but neither do so regularly, often due to publishing inconsistency. He will sometimes reduce his arm speed to ensure he lands his curveball where he wants, a change hitters can take and adapt to. His best curveballs are those that bend at the knee and have a high arc to teach kids what the pitch is like. Medina’s change usage has grown this year (up to 21% this year from 13% in 2021), and it’ll show you glimpses of creating great action on the pitch or feeling to locate it down and to the side of his arm. Again, inconsistent arm speed is sometimes an issue here, but Medina’s cambio might have a late arrival cap due to increased usage.

The James Webb Telescope captured images of us wondering if Medina will end up being a starter or a reliever – it’s been happening for so long. There are some tactile feel previews to cast here, but they’re rare. I tend to funnel prospects like this to the bullpen because that’s where I think they tend to end up over time. But there’s an irony in that assumption because, well, this is a play in reaction to Oakland’s trade to Frankie Montas, which inspired its own starter/reliever debate. The A’s at least have the opportunity to continue developing Medina as a starter as they rebuild and are less pressured to land him in a role where he could thrive immediately, like Seattle did with Matt Brash. Instead, they can afford to give Medina a longer development track and let him face some growing pains at big league level in hopes that his command will refine and/or his change will flourish.

While anticipating a future bullpen role here, I think it will be an impact role. Medina would likely sit toward the upper limit of his terrain speed range, and his repertoire depth would allow him to navigate four to six exits at a time. It’s still an impact member of a pitching team, even if Medina doesn’t start or close. If he were still in New York, this outcome would be more likely. But rather than take that approach, when the bullpen clearly needed help following Michael King’s recent injury, as well as Jonathan Loáisiga’s fluctuating speed and history of trouble. shoulder, the Yankees decided to look outside the organization.

Waldichuk, an off-season Pick to Click who entered the Top 100 in late spring, is a mid-rotation starter ready for the big leagues with three pitches that have batting ability lacking. Its four-seam sits at 93-95 mph and has climb and run elements that make it a letter weapon, while its sweeping slider is obscured by its funky delivery, and it has a constant command of a shift screw action in the 80s -84 km/h autonomy. St. Mary’s fifth-rounder in 2019, Waldichuk dominated Double-A throughout the second half of his full-season debut and reached Triple-A in early 2022. His fastball and slider control n It’s not always sharp (although that change almost always ends up in the right spot), but Waldichuk’s fastball shape and the deceptive nature of his throw gives him room for error in that regard.

Even though he throws his cursor more frequently (ranking metrics of things love the pitch – like, 70s or 80s loves that), I have Waldichuk’s change ranked as his best future pitch due to its relative newness in his repertoire and his constancy he completes it, and because his delivery is so loose that he almost looks elastic. The way his upper back seems to bend in half behind him like a section of the newspaper is unique to Waldichuk, and it could contribute to his deception.

Sears is another plug-and-play spinner. He has plus-plus fastball control and has walked just 23 batters in his 118 innings at Triple-A and above since arriving there in mid-2021. Originally an 11th-rounder by the Mariners out of the Citadel, Sears quickly established himself as a top prospect and was traded to the Yankees less than a year after being drafted as part of a deal for Nick Rumbelow between the 2017 and 2018. Missed most of 2019 due to injury, then lost 2020 due to pandemic; when the 2021 season finally rolled around, he was a 25-year-old who had yet to throw over the A-ball, more or less as an afterthought. His 2021 look put him back on the prospect map and on the Yankees’ 40-man roster.

Sears commands a flat-angled fastball that lives in the 92-95 mph range, consistently putting it in places hitters struggle to reach. Its 79-83mph slider can elicit chases from left-handers and also acts as a back-foot weapon against right-handers, giving it something other than its mid shift to lean on against them. It’s not an overwhelming mix, but Sears’ order will get it started.

Finally, there’s Bowman, the Yankees’ 2021 fourth-round pick in Louisville, whose swing has been altered since entering pro ball. Bowman was an honorable mention prospect on the Yankees’ January roster, projecting himself as a contact/speed second baseman. His varsity swing footwork was extremely conservative – he basically didn’t walk, just shifting his weight from his back to the front. He now has a regular leg kick, but the power he’s unlocked is significant compared to Bowman’s previous iteration, and he seems very comfortable with the change.

His stat performance hasn’t been illustrious so far, though it’s certainly not bad. He was hitting just .217 at High-A Hudson Valley this year, coming off a .237 mark at A-ball in 2021. Added to that is a strikeout rate of 26% and a BABIP of .286, both surprising for one more running. , a major-conference college hitter who had success from bat to ball as an amateur. It’s more acceptable with swing change in mind, and Bowman does other things. He reached base at a 35% clip and stole 35 bases on 41 attempts; you hope he can be a 40-year-old second baseman with a speed that allows him to play in the field as well, although he hasn’t done it yet. He’s definitely a perspective, just one that I consider to be more on the periphery of my scope. The others have been added to Oakland’s prospect list, which you can find here. Waldichuk is my new No. 1 prospect in the organization, but you can make a ceiling-based argument for Tyler Soderstrom or a positional scarcity argument for Shea Langeliers.

This trade continues a pattern of behavior that Oakland exhibited during its rebuild, gaining nearly ready pitching en masse (in my opinion) in hopes that it will put its rebuild in the express lane. Among players acquired since Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Chris Bassitt started moving, the A’s have acquired 11 pitching prospects. They now have 17 players who were originally signed by other organizations on their prospect list. They slip into the middle of the farming systems rankings, although they are likely to fall back down over the next year or so as many of the best prospects they have gained in their reconstruction trades are likely to fall. to graduate in no time. order.

About Jimmie T.

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