The Dodgers traded right-handed pitcher John Ely to the Houston Astros today for southpaw Rob Rasmussen. Here's my take.
John Ely, RHP: Ely was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the third round in 2007, from the University of Miami-Ohio. He was traded to the Dodgers in 2009 for Juan Pierre, and spent much of 2010 with the big league team, throwing 100 innings with a 5.49 ERA and a 76/40 K/BB. He was outstanding pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque in 2012, going 14-7, 3.20 with a 165/36 K/BB in 169 innings.
The 6-2, 200 pound, 26 year old Ely is not a rookie due to his major league exposure in 2010, but he's a nice gamble for the Astros. He seldom tops 90 MPH, but his changeup is excellent and his curveball has good moments. He thrived this year despite the extremely tough pitching environment in Albuquerque, and is worthy of another shot at a major league job.
Rob Rasmussen, LHP: Rasmussen was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the second round in 2010, out of UCLA. He came to Houston in the Carlos Lee trade this past July. He had a 3.90 ERA with a 75/36 K/BB in 88 innings for High-A Jupiter before the transaction, then a 4.80 ERA with a 44/18 K/BB in 54 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi afterward.
Rasmussen is a 5-9, 160 pound lefty, born April 2nd, 1989. He hasn't been terrific in the minors so far, but he's got decent stuff including an 89-93 MPH sinker, a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. Although he doesn't give up a lot of walks, his command within the strike zone isn't as sharp as it needs to be. While it may seem like Rasmussen would make a good LOOGY, he had a reverse platoon split last year and is probably better off as a starter or long reliever. He will likely begin 2013 in Double-A, working on polishing his command.
This type of deal makes sense for both teams. Ely had no real future in Los Angeles, but the Dodgers were able to swap him for a lefty with some potential long-term value. The Astros, meanwhile, gain a pitcher who has proven he could succeed this year under difficult circumstances and who might be able to eat some innings for the major league team in 2013.