The Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Angels made a three-way trade Tuesday afternoon during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings. The Angels send slugger Mark Trumbo to Arizona, with Los Angeles receiving left-handers Tyler Skaggs (DBacks) and Hector Santiago (Sox), Arizona receiving right-hander A.J Schugel from the Angels and outfielder Brandon Jacobs from the White Sox, and Chicago snagging outfielder Adam Eaton. Here's a take on the youngsters involved.
Adam Eaton, OF: Eaton was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 19th round in 2010, from the University of Miami-Ohio. He's just 5-8,, 185, but the left-handed hitter has a strong track record in the minors, hitting .358/.450/.501 in 345 career minor league games, including a .365/.441/.522 line in 129 games for Triple-A Reno over the last two seasons. In big league action in '12 and '13, he hit .254/.332/.373 in 335 at-bats, pushing past rookie limits this past year.
Eaton missed the first part of '13 with a sprained elbow ligament and it is possible that this impacted his performance. He shouldn't be expected to duplicate his Triple-A numbers at the major league level; Reno is a hitter's park in a hitter's league, but he runs very well, has a quality glove in center field, makes contact, and has more power than your typical 5-8 hitter. He just turned 25 and has nothing left to prove in the minors. At worst Eaton should be a good fourth outfielder, but his skills are broad enough that he deserves a full trial.
Brandon Jacobs, OF: Jacobs came to the White Sox for Matt Thornton this past summer. Drafted by the Red Sox in the 10th round in 2009 from high school in Lilburn, Georgia, Jacobs is a 6-1, 225 pound right-handed hitter who turned 23 last weekend. He hit .244/.334/.440 in 81 games for High-A Salem before the trade, then .237/.291/.327 in 43 games for Double-A Birmingham afterward.
Jacobs is a solid athlete who turned down an Auburn football scholarship to play baseball, but he hasn't been able to fully develop his tools to this point on the diamond. His plate discipline is shaky and he has problems with breaking pitches, issues exposed against advanced pitching. He has some sleeper potential but was surplus to Boston's needs and apparently surplus to Chicago's as well.
A.J. Schugel, RHP: Schugel was drafted by the Angels in the 25th round in 2010 from Central Arizona Junior College. He emerged as a prospect with a fine '12 season for Double-A Arkansas, posting a 2.88 ERA in 27 starts with a 109/55 K/BB in 140 innings. However, 2013 was much different, featuring a hideous 7.05 ERA in 89 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake, with 121 hits and 12 homers allowed and a 76/33 K/BB.
Age 24, Schugel isn't a hot prospect but he's probably better than his Triple-A numbers imply, as he was hampered by blisters and a foot injury that ended his season early. He features a decent sinker and a good change-up, but his slider is mediocre and will preclude usage as a big league starter unless it improves. Right-handers crushed him at a .370 clip this year, but he held lefties to a .259 mark; a reverse platoon split like that is a good indicator of breaking ball trouble. He is still young enough to develop into something useful, perhaps as a back-end bullpen arm.
Tyler Skaggs, LHP: Age 22, Skaggs is returning to his original organization, having been drafted in the supplemental first round in 2009 but traded to Arizona in the 2010 Dan Haren deal. The native Californian had an outstanding 2012 season in Double-A/Triple-A (2.87 ERA, 116/37 K/BB in 122 innings) but was less successful on the surface in '13 (4.59 ERA in 104 innings for Reno, 107/39 K/BB). Skaggs' FIP at Reno (3.07) was much better than his ERA, indicating that the difference between the two seasons was less than it appears.
That said, Skaggs hasn't been able to take his minor league success to the next level, with a 5.43 ERA in 68 major league innings, with a 57/28 K/BB, 12 homers, and 68 hits allowed. However, given his age and overall track record, it is much too soon to conclude that he won't make the necessary adjustments. His fastball runs at 88-93 MPH and he'll mix in a curveball and change-up. Home runs have been his biggest major league problem, but I still think the 6-5 lefty is worth taking a chance on.
ANALYSIS: Trumbo will likely make a lot of power noise in Arizona, who could use the thump after getting just 37 homers from their outfielders last year. However, I do like this deal from the Angels' perspective: they picked up two inexpensive but talented southpaw starters with Skaggs and Hector Santiago. The White Sox improved their defense and Eaton could wind up being a steal.
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