The Houston Astros traded relief pitcher Jose Veras to the Detroit Tigers this morning, receiving outfield prospect Dany Vasquez in return, plus a player to be named later. Here is a quick report on Vasquez.
Danry Vasquez, OF: Vasquez is from Venezuela, signed by the Tigers as a free agent in 2010 for a robust $1,200,000 bonus. He made his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League as a 17-year-old in 2011, hitting .272/.306/.350 in 54 games. He was sent to the Midwest League to open 2012 but played poorly, hitting just .162/.218/.222 in 29 games. Demoted to Connecticut in the New York-Penn League in June, he rebounded against more-appropriate competition with a .311/.341/.401 mark.
Vasquez returned to West Michigan for 2013 and has performed well in his second try at the Midwest League, hitting .281/.333/.390 with 31 walks and 56 strikeouts in 374 at-bats. This may not seem spectacular, but it is quite credible for a 19-year-old in full-season ball. Of particular interest is his low strikeout rate.
Vasquez is a 6-3, 180 pound left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born January 8, 1994. I mentioned the low strikeout rate, and that stat fits well with scouting reports about his contact hitting skills. He has a compact swing, above-average bat speed, and can hit the ball to all fields. He hasn't shown much home run power to this point, but more may come as he matures physically. Although he doesn't draw a huge number of walks, he has a decent eye and doesn't chase many pitches outside the zone.
He needs to gets stronger physically, and also needs to improve his ability against left-handed pitchers, who have limited him to a .232/.267/.256 mark this year.
Vasquez has average running speed and a so-so arm, limiting him to left field. He is error-prone at this point (11 errors this season) and will need to improve that part of his game as well.
I think the trade makes sense for both Houston and Detroit. Veras has had a good season, but he's 32 years old and won't be part of the next good Astros team. Vasquez isn't a spectacular prospect at his point, but he has some positive markers in his profile and is very young. The Tigers are in win-now mode, so cashing him in for immediate relief help is logical. Their farm system is relatively thin, and Vasquez was one of their key assets.