The Oakland Athletics traded pitcher Jerry Blevins to the Washington Nationals this afternoon. In return, the Athletics receive outfield prospect Billy Burns. Here's my take.
Billy Burns, OF: Burns was drafted in the 32nd round by the Nationals in 2011, from Mercer University in Georgia. The son of former NFL running back Bob Burns, Billy isn't a big guy at 5-9, 180, but the switch-hitter is a fine athlete with outstanding speed. He hit .322/.432/.382 with 38 steals, 65 walks, and 68 strikeouts in 398 at-bats for Low-A Hagerstown in 2012, followed by a .312/.422/.391 mark in 91 games for High-A Potomac this year. A late promotion to Double-A Harrisburg resulted in a .325/.434/.360 line in 30 games. He combined for 72 walks, 74 steals, and just 54 strikeouts in 444 at-bats at the two levels.
Burns lacks size and distance power, but he's shown a good batting eye and knows how to use his speed efficiently. His range works in center but his arm is below average. His combination of walks and steals is attractive, but he's already 24 years old.
Blevins is a very good relief pitcher, but he's 30 and swapping him out for someone with rare speed like Burns could work out nicely for Oakland in the long run, even if Burns turns out to be just a bench asset. From Washington's point of view, Blevins provides an immediate bullpen boost for '14, costing them one player who probably needs another year in the high minors before being ready to help.
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