Prospects in the Ernesto Frieri Trade: Alexi Amarista and Donn Roach
The San Diego Padres traded pitcher Ernesto Frieri to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for infielder Alexi Amarista and right-handed pitcher Donn Roach. Let's take a look at this pair of prospects. Amarista is better-known since he's reached the majors already, but Roach is the prospect to watch in this trade.
Alexi Amarista, INF: Amarista is a 5-8, 150-pound left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born April 6th, 1989. The Angels signed him out of Venezuela as a free agent in 2007. He was a consistent .300 hitter at the lower levels, lacking power but showing a knack for contact. He hit .292/.337/.419 in 86 games for Triple-A Salt Lake last season and was hitting .273/.289/.403 in 18 games so far this year. Amarista saw action in 23 games for the major league team last season, hitting .154/.182/.250 in 52 at-bats.
The Angels were grooming Amarista as a utilityman and that looks like his best role in the majors. He is an excellent defensive second baseman, is solid at shortstop, and can perform competently at third base and all three outfield positions, although his below-average arm strength can be a problem. With the bat, he's a contact hitter but lacks power and doesn't draw many walks. Amarista is an aggressive runner with slightly above-average speed, although he gets caught stealing more often than ideal.
Donn Roach, RHP: The Angels drafted Roach in the supplemental third round in 2010, from the Junior College of Southern Nevada. He was the ace of the pitching staff and received plenty of exposure as Bryce Harper's teammate. The Angels used him in relief last year for Low-A Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League, where he posted a 3.45 ERA with a 68/20 K/BB in 70 innings. He was moved back to the starting rotation this spring and is off to an excellent start for Inland Empire in the California League: 5-0, 2.16 ERA in six starts, with a 29/3 K/BB in 42 innings, with 36 hits allowed.
Roach is a 6-1, 200 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born December 14, 1989. He is one of the most extreme ground ball pitchers in the minor leagues, posting an amazing 6.23 GO/AO so far this year and 3.55 last season. The Angels have revised Roach's mechanics considerably since college; you can find a comparison of his mechanics now and then here.
Roach has a low-90s fastball; as you can imagine from the numbers, this pitch has strong sinking action. He mixes in an improving slider, an occasional curve, and an impressive split-finger pitch that he uses in changeup counts. The revised delivery has dramatically improved his command within the strike zone, and (in theory) should help him stay healthy. Although some scouts still see him as a reliever, Roach's arsenal is diverse enough for him to start as long as he maintains his command. He should reach Double-A later this year and could see the majors sometime in 2013 if all goes well.