Prospects in the Trevor Cahill Trade
The Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks made a major trade on Friday, December 9th. Oakland shipped starting pitcher Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow to the desert in exchange for a pair of pitching prospects, Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook, plus outfielder Collin Cowgill.
Here is my take on the prospects involved.
Ryan Cook, RHP: A 24-year-old right-hander, Cook was drafted by Arizona in the 27th round in 2008, from the University of Southern California. He was very effective in the minors this year, posting a 2.21 ERA with a 62/22 K/BB in 61 innings, with 41 hits allowed, between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, collecting 19 saves. He received a major league trial but got hammered, giving up 11 hits, eight walks, and six runs in 7.2 innings.
Cook throws quite hard in the bullpen, hitting 94-97 MPH and touching 100 at times. He offers a slider and splitter, but his command wasn't good enough in the majors, granted the sample size was small. If he throws strikes, his stuff would fit well in middle relief and it isn't impossible for him to pick up some saves eventually, if the command truly comes around.
Collin Cowgill, OF: Another product of Arizona's 2008 draft, Cowgill was a fifth round pick from the University of Kentucky. Age 25, he is undersized at 5-9, 185. He hits right-handed but throws left, a combination which usually annoys scouts.
Cowgill certainly annoyed pitchers in Triple-A in '11, hitting .354/.430/.554 with 13 homers, 51 walks, and 30 steals for Reno. The park/league environment helped him, and he was much less effective in the majors, hitting .239/.300/.304 with 28 strikeouts in 92 at-bats for the Diamondbacks. At his best, he works counts well, draws walks, steals bases, produces moderate power, and is a very good defensive outfielder with a strong throwing arm.
He's athletic and has better tools than most players his size, but scouts wonder if his swing will work against major league pitching. However, Cowgill has shown the ability to make adjustments before, and he has a good chance to have a long career as a fourth outfielder.
Jarrod Parker, RHP: Parker is a 23-year-old right-hander drafted in the first round in 2007 from high school in Ossian, Indiana. He missed 2010 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he came back healthy and effective in 2011, going 11-8, 3.79 with a 112/55 K/BB ratio in 131 at-bats for Double-A Mobile, allowing 112 hits.
Parker is the big prize in this trade, thanks to a 92-96 MPH fastball. He worked hard on developing his changeup this year, using it more often than his slider at times, and it's a solid offering. The slider was nasty before the surgery and while it has lost some bite, it is still very good. He also has a reasonable curveball that could use more development.
Parker's combination of four pitches is overpowering when he's on, and while his secondary pitches still need a bit of refinement, most scouts think he'll develop into a rotation anchor as an ideal number two starter. Although his command still wobbles at times, his recovery from surgery was impressive and I am giving him a Grade A- in the 2012 Baseball Prospect Book. With the injury receding rapidly in the rearview mirror, Parker could be even better in '12.