Friday night, the San Diego Padres traded veteran closer Huston Street and right-handed pitcher Trevor Gott to the Los Angeles Angels for four prospects: infielders Taylor Lindsey and Jose Rondon and pitchers R.J. Alvarez and Elliot Morris. Here's the scoop on this haul of young talent.
R.J. Alvarez, RHP: Alvarez was a third round pick in 2012 by the Angels, from Florida Atlantic University. He posted a 2.96 ERA with a 79/27 K/BB in 49 innings for High-A Inland Empire in 2013, and has been even better this year with a 0.33 ERA with a 38/10 K/BB in 27 innings for Double-A Arkansas. He has missed several weeks of action this year with a sore elbow, although he's been back in action since late June and pitching effectively.
Alvarez is a 6-1, 200 pound right-hander born June 8, 1991. He has overpowering stuff, featuring a 93-96 MPH fastball and a very good slider, reflected sabermetrically in outstanding K/IP ratios. Alvarez has two problems: erratic control, and high-effort mechanics that worry scouts. He has enough stuff to close if he can sharpen his command and should be at least an effective middle reliever if he avoids physical problems.
Taylor Lindsey, 2B: The Angels drafted Lindsey in the supplemental first round in 2010, from high school in Scottsdale, Arizona. He hit .274/.339/.441 with 17 homers for Arkansas in 2013 and is currently hitting .247/.323/.400 in 295 at-bats for Triple-A Salt Lake City.
Lindsey is a 6-0, 195 pound left-handed hitter born December 2, 1991.He was rated as a pure hitter with moderate power when drafted despite unusual swing mechanics, but his pro performance has been inconsistent, with erratic power production and a rather disappointing batting average/OBP over the last two years. He's shown better strike zone judgment this year although his PCL production overall hasn't been as good as anticipated. On the other hand, his defense at second base has been better than expected and at age 22 there is still time for the bat to blossom.
Elliot Morris, RHP: Morris was a fourth round pick in 2013 from Pierce Community College in Washington state. He opened '14 at Low-A Burlington in the Midwest League, posting a 2.25 ERA with a 44/13 K/BB in 40 innings with just 29 hits allowed. Promoted to Inland Empire in late May, he has a 4.17 ERA with a 40/28 K/BB in 45 innings with 37 hits allowed.
Morris is a 6-4, 210 pound right-hander born April 26, 1992. He had Tommy John surgery in college but has fully recovered, showing a 92-96 MPH fastball with good sinking action. He has a decent slider but his changeup needs work and his overall command needs sharpening. At higher levels he projects as a number four starter if his secondary pitches improve, or a middle relief option if they don't.
Jose Rondon, SS: The Angels signed Rondon out of Venezuela in 2011 for $70,000, part of their attempt to find bargain players on the Latin American market that other teams overlook. He hit .293/.359/.399 in 68 games for Orem in the Pioneer League in 2013. The Angels jumped him up to Inland Empire for 2014, skipping Low-A, and he's more than held his own with a .327/.362/.418 line in 72 games.
Rondon is a 6-0, 160 pound right-handed hitter, born March 3, 1994. He makes contact and does the little ball things like bunting very well for his age. He seldom strikes out and has performed well against older pitching this year, but he lacks strength and power and could also stand to add more patience at the plate. Although scouts rate his range and arm strength as only adequate for shortstop, he has great instincts and makes fewer errors than most infielders in his age group. He would be an excellent defender at second base and isn't bad at shortstop, making him an ideal utility infielder candidate, though it is plausible that he can develop enough offensively to start at some point, given his youth.
Trevor Gott, RHP: The Padres drafted Gott in the sixth round in 2013 from the University of Kentucky. He posted a 3.16 ERA with a 31/9 K/BB in 31 innings this year for High-A Lake Elsinore, collecting 16 saves, followed by a 4.63 ERA with an 11/9 K/BB in 12 innings after being promoted to Double-A San Antonio.
Gott is a 6-0, 190 pound right-hander born August 26, 1992. He has a 92-94 MPH fastball, hitting 95-96 at times, and mixes in an average slider, collecting plenty of ground balls with both pitches. He needs to improve his command and profiles as a middle reliever at higher levels, perhaps with a chance to close if the command sharpens.
ANALYSIS: This seems reasonable for both teams to me. The Angels acquire a "proven closer" to help them for the stretch run. This draws down talent from their weak farm system, but if you're in a "win now" mode that's defensible.While none of the prospects received by the Padres are outstanding, they all have the potential to be useful components of a big league team. Alvarez has a high ceiling as a bullpen option if he stays healthy, while Rondon and Lindsey provide good depth up the middle. Morris for Gott is a wash.