The A’s Add Extra Main League-Prepared Arms in Montas Swap


© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports activities

Oakland fetched a large return within the commerce that despatched the potent mixture of Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino to the Yankees on Monday afternoon. The deal is headlined by two high 100 prospects, lefty Ken Waldichuk and righty Luis Medina, and is supplemented by near-ready backend starter JP Sears and fleet-footed A-ball second baseman Cooper Bowman. All three pitchers are basically massive league-ready, with Medina and Sears already on the 40-man roster, and Waldichuk a lock to be added after the season and prone to debut subsequent 12 months.

The youngest of that trio is Medina, a 23-year-old flamethrower who has been a prospect of import for over half a decade, strolling the starter/reliever stability beam all of the whereas. Now at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, he has made 17 begins (he usually works 4 to 5 innings at a time and has maxed out at six twice this season) whereas posting a 3.38 ERA, his third consecutive stage the place he has posted a sub-4.00 ERA. Whereas he’s traditionally struggled with walks (he’s been a minimum of a 5 walks per 9 man his complete profession) and general consistency, Medina’s stuff makes him robust to sq. up and induces a number of groundballs (50% GB%). His fastball has been within the mid-to-upper-90s his complete profession and is parked within the 94-98 mph vary once more this season, peaking at 102.

Medina’s low-80s curveball and upper-80s changeup every flash plus, however neither does so recurrently, usually on account of launch inconsistency. He’ll typically dial down his arm pace to verify he lands his curveball the place he needs, a change hitters can choose up and modify to. His greatest curveballs are the knee-buckling, high-arcing type greatest for educating children what the pitch appears to be like like. Medina’s changeup utilization has elevated this 12 months (as much as 21% this 12 months from 13% in 2021), and he’ll present you glimpses of both creating massive motion on the pitch or having really feel for finding it down and to his arm aspect. Once more, inconsistent arm pace is typically a problem right here, however Medina’s cambio may have late-arriving ceiling because of the elevated utilization.

The James Webb telescope has captured pictures of us questioning whether or not Medina will find yourself being a starter or a reliever — it’s been taking place for that lengthy. There are glimpses of tactile really feel to pitch right here, however they’re uncommon. I are likely to funnel prospects like this towards the bullpen, as that’s the place I believe they have a tendency to wind up over time. However there’s an irony in that assumption as a result of, properly, this can be a piece in response to Oakland buying and selling Frankie Montas, who impressed a starter/reliever debate of his personal. The A’s a minimum of have the chance to proceed to develop Medina as a starter as a result of they’re rebuilding and are much less pressed to place him in a task the place he would possibly thrive instantly, the best way Seattle did with Matt Brash. As an alternative, they will afford to offer Medina an extended developmental runway and let him cope with rising pains on the massive league stage within the hope that his command will polish up and/or his changeup will blossom.

Whereas anticipating a future bullpen position right here, I do assume it will likely be certainly one of influence. Medina would probably sit towards the higher certain of his velocity vary in aid, and his repertoire depth would permit him to navigate 4 to 6 outs at a time. That’s nonetheless an influence member of a pitching employees, even when Medina isn’t beginning or closing. Have been he nonetheless in New York, that final result could be extra probably. However fairly than take that tack, when the bullpen clearly wanted assist following Michael King’s latest damage, in addition to Jonathan Loáisiga’s velocity fluctuation and historical past of shoulder stuff, the Yankees determined to look outdoors the group.

Waldichuk, an offseason Pick to Click who moved into the Prime 100 late in the spring, is a big-league prepared mid-rotation starter with three pitches which have bat-missing functionality. His four-seamer sits 93-95 mph and has rise-and-run parts that make it a weapon on the letters, whereas his sweeping slider is obscured by his funky supply, and he has constant command of a screwball motion changeup within the 80-84 mph vary. A 2019 fifth rounder out of St. Mary’s, Waldichuk dominated Double-A all through the again half of his full-season debut and reached Triple-A early in 2022. His fastball and slider command aren’t all the time crisp (although that changeup virtually all the time finishes in the precise spot), however the form of Waldichuk’s fastball and the misleading nature of his supply give him some margin for error on that finish.

Despite the fact that he throws his slider extra steadily (stuff-grading metrics love the pitch — like, 70- or 80-grade find it irresistible), I’ve Waldichuk’s changeup graded as his greatest future pitch on account of its relative newness in his repertoire and the way persistently he finishes it, and since his supply is so unfastened that he virtually appears to be like elastic. The way in which his higher again seems to fold in half behind him like a piece of the newspaper is exclusive to Waldichuk, and this would possibly contribute to his deceptiveness.

Sears is one other plug-and-play rotation piece. He has plus-plus fastball command and has walked simply 23 hitters throughout his 118 innings at Triple-A and above since arriving there in the course of 2021. Initially an eleventh rounder by the Mariners out of The Citadel, Sears rapidly established himself as a high-floor prospect and was traded to the Yankees lower than a 12 months after he was drafted as a part of a deal for Nick Rumbelow between the 2017 and ’18 seasons. He missed most of 2019 with damage after which misplaced 2020 to the pandemic; when the 2021 season lastly rolled round, he was a 25-year-old who hadn’t pitched above A-ball but, kind of an afterthought. His 2021 look put him again on the prospect map and on the Yankees’ 40-man.

Sears instructions a flat-angle fastball that lives within the 92-95 mph vary, persistently finding it in spots that hitters wrestle to get on high of. His 79-83 mph slider can garner chases from lefties and in addition acts as a back-foot weapon towards righties, giving him one thing apart from his middling changeup to lean on towards them. It’s not an overwhelming combine, however Sears’ command will allow him to begin.

Lastly there’s Bowman, the Yankees’ 2021 fourth-round pick of Louisville, whose swing has been modified since he entered professional ball. Bowman was an honorable point out prospect on the January Yankees list, projecting as a contact/pace second baseman. The footwork of his school swing was extraordinarily conservative — he principally wasn’t striding, simply shifting his weight from his again aspect to the entrance. He now has a run-of-the-mill leg kick, however the energy it has unlocked is critical in comparison with Bowman’s earlier iteration, and he seems very comfy with the change.

His statistical efficiency has not been illustrious thus far, although it definitely isn’t unhealthy. He was solely hitting .217 at Excessive-A Hudson Valley this 12 months, coming off a .237 mark at A-ball in 2021. Connected to that may be a 26% strikeout charge and a .286 BABIP, each stunning for a plus-running, large-conference school hitter who had bat-to-ball success as an beginner. It’s extra palatable with the swing change in thoughts, and Bowman does different stuff. He’s reaching base at a 35% clip and has stolen 35 bases in 41 makes an attempt; you hope he is usually a 40-grade second baseman with pace that permits him to additionally play the outfield, although he hasn’t but. He’s positively a prospect, only one I take into account to be extra on the periphery of my scope. The others have been added to Oakland’s prospect record, which yow will discover here. Waldichuk is my new No. 1 prospect within the org, however you would make a ceiling-based argument for Tyler Soderstrom or a positional shortage argument for Shea Langeliers.

This commerce continues a sample of conduct Oakland has exhibited throughout their rebuild, buying near-ready pitching in droves in (in my view) the hope that it’s going to put their rebuild within the specific lane. Of the gamers acquired because the likes of Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and Chris Bassitt began to maneuver, the A’s have acquired 11 pitching prospects. They now have 17 gamers who had been initially signed by different organizations on their prospect record. They’re creeping up into the center of the farm system rankings, although they’re prone to fall towards the underside once more inside the subsequent 12 months or so as a result of so lots of the greatest prospects they’ve acquired of their rebuild trades are prone to graduate in brief order.

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