Prospects in the Justin Upton Trade
The Arizona Diamondbacks traded outfielder Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves this morning. Chris Johnson also accompanies Upton to Georgia. In exchange, the Diamondbacks receive infielder Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado, plus pitching prospect Zeke Spruill, third base prospect Brandon Drury, and infield prospect Nick Ahmed. Here's a report on the prospects involved.
Nick Ahmed, SS
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 205 DOB: March 15, 1990
Ahmed was drafted in the second round in 2011 from the University of Connecticut. He hit .269/.337/.391 last year for High-A Lynchburg in the Carolina League, with 49 walks and 102 strikeouts in 506 at-bats. He also stole 40 bases. His slash line numbers may not look that hot on the surface, but Ahmed has some skills and is a solid defensive shortstop, featuring better-than-average range, a strong throwing arm, and impressive instincts. Many scouts felt he was the best defensive shortstop in the Carolina League last season. At the plate, he has doubles power, but his plate discipline is inconsistent and we'll have to see how he handles advanced pitching. I think he has more development potential than his raw numbers may indicate and currently rate him as a Grade B- prospect.
Brandon Drury, 3B
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 190 DOB: August 21, 1992
Drury was a 13th round pick in 2010 from high school in Grants Pass, Oregon. He was a trendy prospect after hitting .347 in the Appalachian League in 2011, but his strike zone judgment was very poor with just six walks in 265 at-bats and he looked risky heading into last season. His '12 season was a disaster: he hit just .229/.270/.330 in 445 at-bats for Low-A Rome, undone by terrible plate discipline that overrode the advantages of his pretty swing. He has decent range and arm strength at third base, but is error-prone and spent much of the season at first base. Drury is young enough to improve but is hardly a premium prospect at this point, a definite Grade C type for me.
Zeke Spruill, RHP
Bats: S Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 185 DOB: September 11, 1989
Spruill was drafted in the second round in 2008, out of high school in Marietta, Georgia. He's moved slowly but steadily through the farm system and had a solid season for Double-A Mississippi in 2012, going 9-11, 3.67 with a 106/46 K/BB in 162 innings, allowing 158 hits. He works with a low-90s sinking fastball and shows an above-average changeup. His breaking ball is a slurvy slider which works well at times but still lacks consistency. This shows up statistically in mediocre K/IP ratios, but he throws strikes at least and has shown that he can eat innings. In the majors he projects as a number four starter. I currently rate him as a Grade B- prospect.
These three prospects combined with Prado and Delgado strikes me as a fairly weak haul for Upton, and it certainly isn't as good as what the Mariners reportedly offered last week, and what the Rangers were rumored to be offering.