Heavy action continues on the trade market this afternoon. The Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Tampa Bay Rays finished a three-way interaction earlier. The Reds send catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Rays, while the Diamondbacks move Heath Bell to Tampa. The Reds receive pitching prospect David Holmberg from Arizona, while the Diamondbacks acquire pitching prospect Justin Choate and a player to be named later from the Rays.
Here's a look at the two prospects involved in the trade, Choate and Holmberg.
Justin Choate, RHP: Choate pitched college baseball at Stephen F. Austin University in Texas. Although he had a solid year in 2013 (3.93 ERA, 61/19 K/BB in 73 innings) and expected to be drafted, he was not chosen and ended up signing a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. A drafted player cannot be traded to another team within 12 months of being selected, but since Choate was a free agent he does not come under the normal rule and was thus eligible to be traded.
Choate is a right-hander born December 31st, 1990. He is listed at 6-0, 170, small for a right-hander and perhaps one reason why he wasn't drafted. He performed well in his pro debut with a 2.88 ERA and a 35/9 K/BB in 41 innings for Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League. Control is his best attribute and if he makes it, it will be as a middle reliever. I am working to get more information about his stuff and will pass that along. He adds an additional bullpen arm to the Arizona system.
David Holmberg, LHP: Holmberg was originally drafted by the White Sox in the second round in 2009, from high school in Port Charlotte, Florida. He was traded to Arizona in the 2010 Edwin Jackson/Dan Hudson deal. He spent 2013 with Mobile in the Double-A Southern League, posting a 2.75 ERA with a 116/50 K/BB ratio in 157 innings, allowing 138 hits. He made one start for the major league team and was hit hard, giving up three walks and six hits in 3.2 innings.
Holmberg is a 6-3, 225 pound left-handed pitcher and right-handed hitter, born July 19, 1991. A classic four-pitch lefty, he works the strike zone with a fastball, slider, curveball, change-up combination, his heater varying between 87 and 93 MPH. His change-up is generally considered his best pitch. Although not a dominant sort, he's shown an admirable ability to eat innings without getting hurt, making 27 starts each of the last three seasons while averaging over 160 innings pitched.
He has no Triple-A experience and could probably use some time at that level. While he won't be an ace and his ceiling isn't exceptional, his floor is rather high and it would be a surprise if he didn't develop into a useful fourth starter.
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