The first big trade out of San Diego's Winter Meetings involved none other than tradesmith Billy Beane as he unloaded one of the top trade targets of the offseason to the Chicago White Sox along with RHP Michael Ynoa in exchange for SS Marcus Semien, RHP Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley, and 1B Rangel Ravelo. Oakland continues to shuffle their roster and get younger while it looks like the White Sox are ramping up for a playoff push in 2015. Lets examine in depth the three prospects involved in the deal, and both Semien and Phegley who've exhausted their rookie eligibility. We'll split it up into the hitters and pitchers included for organization's sake.
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Drafted out of the University of California in the 6th round of the 2011 draft and signing for $130,000, Marcus Semien made his pro and full season debut in 2012 at Low A Kannapolis at age 20. The following year he broke out with 50 extra base hits and an .833 OPS in the Carolina League. In 2013 he spent 105 games with AA Birmingham before being promoted to AAA Charlotte after the trade deadline. The 6'1 195 pound right hander hit .290/.420/.483 in AA with 41 extra base knocks in 483 plate appearances. His plate discipline was off the charts, walking 84 times (17.4%) to just 66 strike outs (13.7%) with 20 stolen bases, 15 homers, and 21 doubles and 90 runs scored. In his age 22 season he posted a 167 wRC+ and .415 wOBA with a .317 BABIP and .193 isolated power. After Semien's promotion, he hit .264/.338/.464 with Charlotte in 142 PA's, hitting 16 more extra base hits including 11 doubles and four homers. He stole four bases and walked 14 times (9.9%) to 24 strike outs (16.9%) with a 123 wRC+, .359 wOBA and .293 BABIP. Semien finished the year by making his Major League debut with the White Sox, going 18-69 in 21 games with a .261/.268/.406 triple slash. It was an uninspiring stretch where he only walked once and struck out 22 times. For the entire 2013 season he hit .281/.388/.470 in nearly 700 plate appearances with 99 walks, 112 strike outs, 21 homers, 36 doubles, and 26 stolen bases. He did some serious damage to left handed pitchers, posting a .345/.432/.586 line, and he was equally as impressive in the friendly confines of his home park. At home he hit .330/.432/.581 compared to a .233/.344/.361 line on the road. In the field he spent time at short stop (73 games, 19 errors, .938 Fld%), second base (41 games, eight errors, .956 Fld%), and third base (23 games, one error, .986 Fld%).
Coming into the 2014 campaign Semien was looking to challenge for a spot on the 25 man roster, showing a potent bat at the upper levels with positional versatility. He stayed with the Sox through the first of June before being demoted for the rest of the minor league season after managing a meager .218/.287/.327 line with 57 strike outs (31.4%) to 16 walks (8.8%). Back in Charlotte he posted an .882 OPS hitting .267/.380/.502 over 366 plate appearances with 15 homers, 20 doubles, seven stolen bases and 53 walks (14.5%) to 59 strike outs (16.1%). That came out to a 142 wRC+, .391 wOBA, .282 BABIP and a .234 isolated power mark. He put a lot of balls in the air with a fly ball percent nearly 9 points higher than the International League average, and a line drive percentage 3 points higher. The White Sox front office brought him back up for September where he finished out the year hitting much better at .273/.333/.485 with 13 strike outs to five walks. His time in Chicago totaled up to 255 PA's with a .234/.300/.372 line, six homers, 10 doubles, an 88 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR, and .301 wOBA. For the entire year he made 621 trips to the plate with 21 homers, 30 doubles, 10 steals, and 74 walks (11.9%) to 129 strike outs (20.8%) with a .253/.347/.446 triple slash. Semien made six errors while in AAA playing short stop, third base, left field and second base, and 14 more in Chicago playing third and second. He was worth -3 DRS at third and -1 at second base.
For the most part, Semien grades out about average in all five tools with his arm a tick below. He's shown a good ability in the minor leagues to square up the ball with good bat speed, good barrel awareness, and excellent plate discipline. His eye wasn't quite as sharp in his first extended stay in the majors to kick off the season, but it improved his second time up in Setpember. Semien has shown good pop at every stop in the minors and could eventually be a 15-20 homer threat. Everything in his defensive profile points to a second baseman with decent range, and a slightly below average arm. I'm not sure how he's going to fare taking the lion's share at short stop though. He's got good instincts on the bases with average speed that could translate to 10+ steals a year. He'll be 24 years old to begin the 2015 season and could put up league average numbers offensively at short with the profile to be a potential #2 hitter.
2014 AAA stats
2014 MLB stats
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A supplemental first round selection in the 2009 draft by the White Sox, Josh Phegley signed for $858,600 out of the University of Indiana. A prolific hitter in college, Phegley jumped straight to full season ball after signing. By the end of the 2011 season he had already ascended to AAA despite having an injury riddled 2010 that saw him have his spleen removed. He spent the entire 2012 season in AAA Charlotte as a 24 year old with uninspiring offensive numbers (.266/.306/.373), but receiving the Rawlings Gold Glove for minor league catchers after throwing out 46% of attempted base thieves and a .996 fielding percentage. Slated for a return trip to Charlotte in 2013, his power finally came through with 34 extra base hits in just 61 games and 258 plate appearances. The stout 5'10 225 pound right hander hit .316/.368/.597 with 18 doubles, 15 homers, a 166 wRC+, .423 wOBA, and a .317 BABIP with 15 walks (5.8%) and 38 strike outs (14.7%). He was called up to the White Sox for the rest of the year in early July, finishing the year with 65 games and 213 plate appearances. Phegley hit just .206/.223/.299 with atrocious plate discipline (five walks, 41 K's), seven doubles, four home runs, a 34 wRC+, .229 wOBA, .236 BABIP and was worth -0.6 fWAR. At home he was a completely different player than on the road, hitting .303/.333/.498 compared to .224/.271/.416 line away from Charlotte and Chicago. He also handled southpaws much better with a .280/.319/.528 line over 138 PA's while hitting .258/.296/.429 against righties. For the entire year he managed 25 doubles, 19 homers, and a 20:79 BB:K ratio. Behind the plate he threw out 30% of runners at the MLB level while saving two defensive runs with five errors and eight passed balls in 64 games. In AAA he caught 41% of base stealers and only made three errors with eight passed balls in 60 games.
Phegley had the inside track on a 25 man roster spot with Tyler Flowers being the projected starter despite struggling mightily in the 2013 season. The front office deemed his receiving skills were not ready to play in the majors so he was sent back to AAA Charlotte for more seasoning. He played in 107 games with 467 plate appearances, a .274/.331/.530 triple slash, 30 doubles, 23 homers, four triples, and a 132 wRC+, a .377 wOBA, and .278 BABIP. Phegley walked 31 times (6.6%) to 72 strike outs (15.4%) which are both below the International League average, with a .255 isolated power and distinctive fly ball tendencies (35.4% outfield fly balls, nearly 7 points more than league average, and 32.9% ground balls which is 9 points below league average). The front office made Phegley one of their September call-ups where he only played in 11 games, hitting .216/.211/.514 in the incredibly short sample size of 38 plate appearances. Once again the majority of his damage came at home, hitting .321/.371/.679 in 238 PA's despite Charlotte being a pitcher friendly venue when looking at park factors. Nearly 77% of his home runs came at home (20 of 26 bombs) with a .223/.278/.391 line on the road. He punished lefties and righties equally, posting an .858 OPS against right handed pitchers and .835 OPS against portsiders. Behind the plate at AAA he once again threw out nearly 45% of baserunners with eight errors, 14 passed balls and a .991 fielding percentage.
At the plate he starts with a low crouch, exposing himself to good heat up in the zone, but he has feasted on balls low in the zone. The bat speed isn't particularly impressive, but he's shown good pop despite brutal plate discipline. He doesn't strike out excessively, but he also doesn't draw any walks. He's just a step above base clogger in the speed department, grading out as well below average. His arm strength is his carrying tool as he's a weapon in shutting down the running game, but he still needs work on both the finer and rougher points of the catching position like catching the ball cleanly, footwork and pitch framing. With the concussion issues of John Jaso and the presence of Stephen Vogt and Derek Norris on the roster, Phegley should be able to crack the Opening Day roster with Oakland as a third catcher. He won't be able to displace Norris as the starter, but could take Jaso's spot. If not he could post some ridiculous numbers in the PCL as a 27 year old about to hit his physical peak.
2014 AAA stats
2014 MLB stats
Photo courtesy of Mark Almond/AL.com
The White Sox selected Rangel Ravelo in the 6th round of the 2010 draft out of Hialeah High School in Florida as a third baseman, signing for $125,000 two slots after new teammate Sean Nolin. He cracked full season ball by the age of 19 in 2011, holding his own through 43 games despite being nearly two and a half years younger than league average. The 6'2 210 pound right hander returned to Low A Kannapolis for 2012 and battled injuries to his elbow and thumb with uninspiring power numbers. He also began his transition from third to the cold corner that year. Once again Ravelo started the year in Kannapolis for the 2013 campaign, hitting .226/.364/.302 in 17 games before his elbow flared up again, causing him to miss more time. He returned to full time action in mid May with A+ Winston Salem and finished the year hitting .312/.393/455 with just four home runs, but 27 doubles, two triples, 40 walks (11.5%), and only 46 strike outs (13.3%). That performance was good for a 138 wRC+, a .390 wOBA, and .143 isolated power. He benefited from a healthy .354 BABIP, but did also hit 5% more line drives than the average Carolina League hitter. He posted better slugging numbers against lefties (.464 SLG%), but that was over a sample size of 86 plate appearances. On the road he was a different animal as well, posting an OPS nearly 200 points better (.343/.430/.491 away, .259/.349/.378 at home). His defense was sharp, making just six errors all year in 799 total chances for a .992 fielding percentage. Ravelo did well against right handers, hitting .305/.388/.425 over 328 plate appearances with 37 walks to 43 punch outs Between the two levels he totaled 31 doubles, four homers, 51 walks to 57 strike outs, and a .299/.388/.432 triple slash.
The 2014 season began for Ravelo with a promotion to AA Birmingham where he blossomed both offensively and defensively for the White Sox. At 2.5 years younger than the league average, the 22 year old Florida native hit .309/.386/.473 with 52 extra base hits including 37 doubles, 11 homers, and four triples with 10 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances. He walked 56 times (10.2%) to 77 strike outs (14%) with a .388 wOBA, 142 wRC+, and .164 ISO while benefiting from another nice .343 BABIP. Though it is rumored to be the toughest jump in the minors, Ravelo handled AA pitching with aplomb, once again hitting line drives at a 5% clip better than league average. Looking at his splits, he demolished left handers through 101 PA's, hitting .379/.446/.621 against them with 16 extra base hits. Right handed pitchers fared better, but still allowed him to post a .293/.373/.440 line with nine of his 11 homers. His defense at first was excellent, committing just four errors in nearly 1,000 total chances for a .996 fielding percentage. It's worth noting he did get two games in at third base, making an error in five chances.
Ravelo could wind up being a steal for Oakland as it appears his offense is beginning to bloom with his power starting to develop. He's always had a knack for making good contact with the ability to go the other way when needed and work himself into hitter's counts. The plate discipline he's showed throughout his minor league career is impressive with 107 walks to 134 strike outs the past two years. In batting practice he shows average raw power with the in-game power coming along nicely. Don't let his 10 stolen bases fool you, Ravelo is not a fast man in any respect to the word. His instincts allow him to take a base if the opposition will give it to him, but he's not anything better than a below average runner. At first base he has sure hands and can pick balls out of the dirt with a solid arm and decent range. Matt Olson and Max Muncy are ahead of him on the depth charts and are both closer to the majors at first base which may lead Oakland to explore moving him back to the hot corner. There he would only have to deal with Renato Nunez for the time being with Matt Chapman on his heels a level below him. If not, it seems he would be returning to AA to handle first base duties. In the long run, Ravelo looks to be a high average, high OBP player with enough power for a home run total in the teens. It will definitely be interesting to see what Oakland does with this situation.
2014 AA stats
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The Chicago White Sox scouting department did well with Bassitt, selecting him in the 16th round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Akron as a redshirt junior relief pitcher. After signing for just $25,000 he made it to A+ Winston-Salem by the end of the year. He went back to High A for the 2012 season and was moved into the rotation after the All Star break, posting decent numbers but allowing far too many free passes. In the 2013 season, he pitched exclusively out of the rotation, making 26 starts between Winston-Salem again and AA Birmingham as a 24 year old. The first 18 starts covered 101.1 innings for W-S, throwing to a 3.46 ERA, 3.90 FIP, and 1.30 WHIP with 101 strike outs (22.8%) and 42 walks (9.5%). Bassitt allowed 90 hits and nine home runs, with the opposition hitting .231/.313/.373 off him with a .283 BABIP and 69.9% strand rate. After the promotion to AA he made eight more starts with a 2.27 ERA, 3.23 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP, allowing 35 hits in 47.2 innings, walking 17 (8.9%) and striking out 37 (19.4%). Southern League hitters only hit .213/.299/.329 against him with two home runs allowed, a .252 BABIP and 75.2% strand rate. For the entire season he threw 149 innings with a 3.08 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 59 walks (9.3%), 138 strike outs (21.8%), and an opponents triple slash of .226/.309/.360. Right handed hitters didn't stand a chance against him with a .197/.255/.310 mark and 18 walks to 75 strike outs over 315 plate appearances while lefties hit .257/.362/.413 with 41 walks and 63 strike outs in 319 PA's. Bassitt earned his first trip to the Arizona Fall League after the season and made 10 relief appearances, totaling 10 innings with eight hits, eight walks, and nine strike outs with one earned run allowed.
The lean 6'5 210 pound right hander missed the first half of the 2014 season while recovering from a broken left hand, making his season debut for the rookie level Arizona League White Sox in mid July. After three rehab appearances he moved up to AA Birmingham and made six starts spanning 34.2 innings with 36 strike outs (24.8%), 14 walks (9.7%), and 26 hits allowed. That came out to a 1.56 ERA, 3.24 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP with a .264 BABIP and 81.6% strand rate while opponents hit .206/.294/.317 off him. The Sox called him up to Chicago at the end of August where he made five more starts and a relief appearance, throwing 29.2 innings of 3.94 ERA ball with a 3.33 FIP, 1.58 WHIP, and 13 walks (9.5%) to 21 strike outs (15.3%). Major league hitters tagged him to the tune of a .286/.368/.353 triple slash with an elevated .340 BABIP and a 74% strand rate. During his time in the minors he generated ground balls at a 46.1% clip with 1.42 ground outs for every air out compared to 39.6% and 0.78 GO:AO ratio in the MLB. Right handed hitters once again fared miserably against Bassitt, hitting .197/.232/.239 against him across the three levels and 153 PA's with 35 strike outs to just five walks. Lefties were light years better, hitting .297/.419/.428 while working 24 walks and striking out 35 with an absurd .386 BABIP. He completed the year with another trip to the AFL where he was absolutely dominant in six long relief appearances, striking out 22 in just 13 innings with three walks, nine hits, and one earned run allowed.
Bassitt works on the mound with a plus fastball that sits in the 90-93 mph range as a starter with excellent sink from a low 3/4 arm slot that can get up 96 mph. His 6'5 frame allows him to get good extension out front, but he has trouble staying on top of his two breaking balls, a improving, decent slider and below average curve. His change up is the most advanced of his three offspeed pitches with good fade on it. The slide piece made great strides this year with some throwing 55's on it in the AFL with sharp break in the mid 80's. The arm slot and delivery make it hard for right handed hitters to pick up the ball but he's shown he can eat innings when healthy. Moving him to the bullpen could make his stuff play up, but he's got the necessary elements to start with a plus fastball, and two offspeed pitches in the slider and change up that flash at least average. Throw him in the rotation and see if he can max out as a #3 or 4 starter with the fallback option of being a bullpen piece that is very tough on right handers.
2014 Rookie stats
2014 AA stats
2014 MLB stats
Photo courtesy of Flickr user NJ Baseball
The Oakland A's shelled out BIG money to bring Ynoa into the system, signing him to a team and then amateur record bonus of $4.25M in 2008 out of the Dominican Republic. He sat out 2009 with elbow issues then blew his elbow out after nine innings in the Arizona League in 2010, knocking him out of action until 2012. In his return to the mound he was quite rusty with no control to speak of, walking 25 with 11 wild pitches in 30.2 innings. The towering 6'7, 210 pound right hander made his full season debut in 2013 as a 21 year old, splitting the year between Low A Beloit and A+ Stockton. He made 15 starts for Beloit, throwing 54.2 innings with a 2.14 ERA, 3.67 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP, striking out 48 (21%) while walking 18 (7.9%) with 45 hits allowed, a .275 BABIP, and 77.5% strand rate. Midwest League hitters only managed a .221/.306/.316 line off Ynoa with just three home runs allowed. In early July he was promoted to A+ Stockton in the California League where he made six starts and a relief appearance covering 21 innings. He was torched for 18 earned runs while walking 17 (16.4%) with 20 strike outs (19.2%) and 23 hits allowed with a .333 BABIP and brutal 56.1% strand rate. Cal League hitters teed off to the tune of a .274/.404/.440 line off him with two homers. For the whole 2013 season he threw 75.2 innings with a 3.69 ERA, 4.26 FIP, and 1.36 WHIP with 68 strike outs (20.4%), 35 walks (10.5%), and an opponents slash line of .236/.336/.354. He limited left handed hitters to a .668 OPS through 153 plate appearances while righties hit .236/.333/.376 in 180 PA's. His home numbers were dramatically different than his road numbers though, limiting hitters to a .175/.289/.271 line at home and .320/.403/.467 triple slash on the road.
Ynoa booked a return trip to Stockton in 2014 and was moved to the bullpen in an attempt to move faster through the system. The 22 year old threw 45.2 innings of relief with a 5.52 ERA, 4.07 FIP, and 1.38 WHIP with 64 strike outs (31.8%), 21 walks (10.5%), and 42 hits with a .349 BABIP and 65.6% strand rate. Opposing hitters triple slashed .247/.338/.376 against him with five home runs, a 36.9% fly ball rate and a 0.82 GO:AO ratio. Left handed hitters couldn't handle him, only managing a .191/.301/.353 line in 85 plate appearances with 36 strike outs and 12 walks. Same side hitters fared better with a .284/.365/.392 triple slash, eight walks, and 28 strike outs in 115 PA's. He was better at home again in 2014 with a .667 opponents OPS compared to .749 on the road.
The fastball is Ynoa's bread and butter, sitting in the mid 90's out of the bullpen while flirting with triple digits. He's got a smooth delivery and three pitch mix with a plus slider and good change up. The control can waver at times, but his stuff can be absolutely filthy. Moving away from the California League alone is going to dramatically improve his runs allowed, but he's looked to legitimately turn a corner. He should be on the fast track with Chicago as he's already on the 40-man roster, starting the year off with AA Birmingham. A dominant first half could get him in the White Sox pen by year's end.
2014 AA stats
Samardzija is very familiar with the city of Chicago while spending the first four and a half years of his MLB career playing for the Cubs, and being a fan as a child of the Palehosers while growing up in Indiana and attending Notre Dame. The White Sox get one year of team control and first dibs on Shark when he becomes a free agent along with Ynoa. In return, Oakland gets three MLB ready pieces in the form of a starting infielder, back up catcher, and potential back end starter and a corner infield prospect with promise. Oakland GM Billy Beane is said to be seeking depth and this trade does that for him, but it still seems like a small return for the A's in the short term. If Semien, Bassitt or Ravelo max out though, this will look like another masterful move on Beane's scoreboard.