Reds GM Walt Jocketty continued to overhaul his starting rotation by trading away right hander Mat Latos to the Miami Marlins in exchange for right handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and catcher Chad Wallach. The Reds freed up $7.25M (Latos' 2014 salary) and the Marlins are on the hook for a projected $8.3M in his last trip through arbitration. Though DeSclafani made his Major League debut in 2014, he has yet to exhaust his rookie eligibility while Wallach just completed a stint in the AFL after finishing his first full professional season in A+ Jupiter of the Florida State League. With Latos being a known commodity at this point in his career, lets take a deeper look into DeSclafani and Wallach.
Photo courtesy of Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays were the first organization to get their hands on DeSclafani, drafting him in the 6th round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Florida, signing for a quarter million dollars. He was packaged alongside six others in the blockbuster Marlins/Blue Jays trade involving Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buerhle in November 2012 after his debut season in Low A Lansing. His first year in the Marlins organization was split between A+ Jupiter and AA Jacksonville, throwing 54 innings of 1.67 ERA ball in Jupiter. The 6'1,190 pound right handed pitcher struck out 53 hitters (24.8%) while walking just nine (4.2%) with a 2.56 FIP, 1.06 WHIP, and .304 BABIP. Florida State League hitters put up a .236/.271/.335 line against him with three home runs and 48 hits allowed. In mid June he made his way up to the Southern League where he finished the year throwing 75 more innings. He posted a 3.36 ERA, a 3.19 FIP, and 1.17 WHIP with 62 strike outs (20.4%), 14 walks (4.6%), seven home runs allowed, and a .309 BABIP and 74.2% strand rate. For the entire 2013 season, DeSclafani toed the rubber for 129 innings, striking out 115 (22.2%) with just 23 walks (4.4%) all year, 10 home runs, a 2.65 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, and a .307 BABIP with a 74.3% strand rate. He struck out five batters for every walk he issued with an opponents slash line of .252/.292/.368. He held left handers to a .595 OPS while righties hit .269/.311/.399 off him. DeScalafani generated ground balls at an above average 46.1% rate with a 1.53 GO:AO ratio.
The 2014 season saw the Jersey native start the year back in AA Jacksonville, but he wouldn't be there long as he made his Major League debut with a pair of starts in mid May. He spent the rest of the season shuttling between Miami and AAA New Orleans. During his time in AA, he made eight starts, throwing 43 innings with 38 punch outs (21.7%), 10 walks (5.7%), a 4.19 ERA, a 3.33 FIP, a 1.28 WHIP, and .333 BABIP with a 70.9% strand rate. When he was with New Orleans he threw 59.1 innings of 3.49 ERA ball, striking out 59 (23.7%) with 21 free passes (8.4%), 48 hits, and two home runs allowed. That was good for a 3.41 FIP and 1.16 WHIP while benefiting from a .282 BABIP and 71.2% strand rate. In Miami, he made five starts and seven relief appearances that totaled 33 innings of work, walking just five (3.4%) with 26 punch outs (17.8%), 40 hits, four home runs allowed and a brutal 6.27 ERA. An equally harsh .330 BABIP, downright terrible 58% strand rate, and over five strike outs per walk brought his FIP down to 3.77 with a 3.70 SIERA, and 3.80 xFIP. Over the course of the entire year he gave up a .259/.313/.389 line with 123 strike outs (21.6%) to 36 walks (6.3%) and 10 homers. He handled right handed hitters better, limiting them to a .247/.288/.350 line while lefties "tagged" him to a .276/.346/.444 triple slash. He also turned into a fly ball pitchers, only getting 40.8% ground balls in the minors and 37.1% in Miami. He was also line drive prone in his short MLB sample, allowing them 30.9% of the time, 6% more than the league average. At the end of the year, Miami assigned DeSclafani to the Arizona Fall League for more work, making six starts spanning 27 innings with 24 strike outs to just four walks with 24 hits and one home run allowed. He posted a 2.67 ERA in the short sample with a 2.98 FIP, a 1.04 WHIP, and .307 BABIP.
The first thing that stands out with Anthony DeSclafani is his fantastic control. In his professional baseball career, he's walked 84 batters in 86 appearances, including 70 starts. His arsenal consists of a pair of fastballs, a low 80's slider, and an solid, mid-80's change up. The four seam fastball can run up to 95-96 mph while the two seamer sits in the low 90's with good movement. His slider has some late bite on it and is an average pitch. DeSclafani has been quite durable since signing, throwing at least 120 innings three years in a row. He ran into some tough luck in his debut, but he has all the ingredients to be a back end starter than can eat innings and put up a league average ERA. He doesn't allow free passes, and isn't particularly homer prone, which are two huge attributes for a pitcher headed to Great American Smallpark. The Reds picked up a quality arm with six years of control.
2014 AA and AAA stats
2014 MLB stats
Photo courtesy of Tom Hagerty
If the last name looks familiar it is probably because you remember his father, Tim Wallach, who was a five time All-Star in his 17 year career. Chad Wallach got his start as a 5th round selection by the Marlins in the 2013 draft out of Cal State Fullerton, signing for a $343,900 bonus. He struggled for short season Batavia in the New York-Penn League, hitting just .226/.294/.267 in 163 plate appearances as a 21 year old, posting a 75 wRC+, .274 wOBA, and hit six doubles without a home run. He walked 11 times (6.7%) to 27 strike outs (16.6%), had a .273 BABIP, and didn't do much of anything offensively. As his season line would suggest, his splits were pretty bad too, hitting .240/.325/.298 against right handers and .190/.209/.190 against southpaws. Behind the dish he made six errors and allowed 12 passed balls in just 43 games, leading one to believe there is work to be done there. This was in stark contrast to his performance in college prior to being drafted and his big league bloodlines gave him a little extra slack.
Wallach made his full season debut in Low A Greensboro where his entire game took a huge leap forward. At the plate he hit .321/.430/.476 over 330 plate appearances with 19 doubles, seven home runs, and an incredible 50 walks (15.2%) to just 39 strike outs (11.8%). The 6'3, 210 pound right hander was even three for three in the stolen base category with a 156 wRC+, a .415 wOBA, and he benefited from a .351 BABIP. His batted ball profile showed he was near league average in line drive and outfield fly ball rates, but he put the ball on the ground 48.3% of the time, 3.7% more than league average. Wallach also spent 19 games with A+ Jupiter where he made 78 plate appearances and hit .328/.436/.375 with three doubles, 12 walks (15.4%), and seven strike outs (9%). In the short sample he put up a 142 wRC+, .387 wOBA, and a .362 BABIP. He completely demolished right handed pitchers throughout the year, running up a .342/.455/.506 line with 50 walks and 30 punch outs over 302 PA's. It was a different story against portsiders though, hitting just .272/.362/.326 in 106 PA's with only five of his 30 extra base hits, all doubles. While donning the tools of ignorance, Wallach dramatically reduced both his error and passed ball rates, making just five errors in 91 games and only allowed 10 passed balls. He struck down potential base thieves just 26% of the time though. He also finished the year off with a stint in the Arizona Fall League, going 10-52 in 16 games with a pair of doubles, three walks and seven strike outs.
With some lumber in his hands, he shows elite plate discipline and a stroke geared to smoke line drives to the opposite field gap. His hit tool projects to be at least average without much power despite the frame that would suggest more. On the base paths he's not a clogger, but he's certainly below average. His catching needs work, but he made incredible strides this year, just his second full season behind the plate. The blocking skills are better, but are a work in progress, as is his game calling. He shows the work ethic and leadership skills needed to handle a pitching staff, and looks to have an above average bat behind the plate. Despite going into his age 23 season and having less than 100 plate appearances at the A+ level, he should be able to start the year in AA and succeed. Wallach is a nice pick-up for the Reds, with a chance to be a quality major league piece and a strong side platoon guy.
2014 Low A stats
2014 A+ stats
Latos has been a steady presence in the Reds rotation for the last three years since coming over from San Diego before the 2012 season. He missed half his starts in 2014 due to issues with his right elbow, but he's been a solid mid-rotation piece for the previous four years with a career 3.34 ERA, 3.41 FIP, and 3.64 SIERA while being worth 16.1 fWAR so far. Miami gets one year of Latos and exclusive negotiating rights for an extension and gives up a Major League ready back end starter with six years of control and a sleeper catching prospect that could have another big year. If DeSclafani's offspeed pitches take a step forward, this deal could start leaning towards Cincinnati's favor, but for now I think this is a fair price for a pitcher of Latos' quality.