The San Diego Padres traded first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and right-handed pitcher Zach Cates to the Chicago Cubs this afternoon, in exchange for pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na.
Let's take a look at the prospects involved.
Zach Cates, RHP: Cates was drafted in the third round in 2010, from Northeast Texas Community College. He is a 6-3, 200 pound right-hander, born December 17, 1989. Although he posted an unattractive 4.73 ERA in the Midwest League in 2011, his FIP was much better at 3.23, with a 111/53 K/BB in 118 innings and just four homers allowed.
Cates works with a 92-96 MPH fastball and a nasty changeup. His curveball needs work and he is still ironing out his mechanics, but I like his potential for growth. With a few tweaks this guy could really take off.I rate him as a Grade C+ prospect in the 2012 Baseball Prospect Book.
Kyung-Min Na, OF: Na was signed by the Cubs out of South Korea in 2009. He is a left-handed hitter, listed at 5-11, 170, born December 12, 1991. He played at four levels in 2011 (Arizona Rookie League, Northwest League, Midwest League, Southern League) hitting a combined .268/.358/.312 in 269 at-bats. He stole 20 bases but was caught 10 times.
Na is fast and has a very good glove in the outfield, but has virtually no power. He profiles as a reserve if he makes the majors.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B: The Padres picked up Anthony Rizzo from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, seeing the young first baseman as Gonzalez's eventual replacement. A 6-2, 220 pound left-handed hitter, he was born August 8th, 1989. He got off to a hot start in Triple-A in 2011, earning a shot at the big league job in June, but was so awful that he was sent back to Triple-A in late July. He hit .331/.404/.652 in 356 at-bats for Triple-A Tucson, but just .181/.282/.242 in 128 major league at-bats, although he did draw 21 walks.
At age 22 he still has time to work out his flaws. Rizzo has excellent power and sound plate discipline, but his swing gets long and major league pitchers found the holes quickly. He's not going to hit .300 outside of the Pacific Coast League, but with some adjustments he should hit .260-.280 at his peak, with 25-30 homers and plenty of walks. Although error-prone at first base, his defense is considered very good due to soft hands, a strong arm, and surprising range.
Rizzo has more risk in his profile than many people realize, and if things go wrong he could turn into Chris Davis. On the other hand, if things go really right, he could develop into Ryan Howard. He will likely fall somewhere in between. Grade B+