The Minnesota Twins traded southpaw starter Francisco Liriano to their division rival Chicago White Sox Saturday night, receiving in return a pair of prospects: shortstop Eduardo Escobar and left-handed pitcher Pedro Hernandez. Let's take a look.
Eduardo Escobar, SS: Escobar is from Villa de Cura, Venezuela, signed by the White Sox as a free agent in 2006. He has spent the entire 2012 season on the major league roster as a utility player, hitting .207/.281/.276 with nine walks and 23 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. He is a career .270/.315/.351 hitter in the minor leagues, including a .266/.303/.354 mark in 489 at-bats for Triple-A Charlotte in 2011.
Born January 5th, 1989, he is 5-10, 165 pound switch-hitter. Escobar has never been an especially effective offensive player, but rose through the White Sox system on the strength of his defensive ability. He played mostly third base for the Sox this year, but in the minors he was mainly a shortstop. His arm is average, but he has a quick release, slightly above average range, and more reliability on routine plays than many young infielders.
Escobar's problem is hitting: he doesn't have much power, but is an over-aggressive hitter who hasn't shown good on-base skills. On the other hand, he runs well, is a very good bunter and adept at the "small ball" style of play. Unless he shows unusual growth on offense, he'll wind up as a utilityman.
Pedro Hernandez, LHP: Hernandez is another Venezuelan, born in Barquisimeto. He was signed by the San Diego Padres as a free agent in 2006. It took him three years to fully establish himself as a prospect, but he emerged by showing good control in the Midwest League in 2010, then pitched at three levels in 2011. He was traded to the White Sox in last December's Carlos Quentin deal. In 86 innings this season, split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, Hernandez was 8-2 in 14 starts with a 2.94 ERA and a 54/21 K/BB ratio, allowing 86 hits.
Hernandez is a short, stocky lefty, listed at 5-10, 200 pounds, born April 12, 1989. His fastball is solid for a southpaw in the 89-92 range, and he's been clocked as high as 94-95 on his best days. His secondary arsenal is headlined by a major league average changeup. He also has a hard breaking ball that varies between slider and cutter action, but the pitch is inconsistent. His delivery is deceptive and he usually does a good job keeping the ball down, avoiding home runs in the minors, although he gave up three long balls in his only major league start.
As a lefty with a live arm and decent command, Hernandez will get plenty of chances. He could develop into a number four/five starter, but is more probably a relief type.
This may not seem like a great haul for Liriano, but given his very erratic track record, this package or something like it is probably the best the Twins could hope for.