The Boston Red Sox traded veteran starting pitcher Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants this morning, receiving a pair of pitching prospects in exchange. Here's a report on Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree, the two newest members of the Red Sox organization.
Edwin Escobar, LHP: Escobar was originally signed by the Texas Rangers out of Venezuela in 2008. He was traded to the Giants in the spring of 2010, as compensation allowing the Rangers to keep Rule 5 pick Ben Snyder. Escobar's breakthrough came in 2012 when he posted a 2.96 ERA with a 122/32 K/BB in 131 innings for Low-A Augusta in the South Atlantic League. He was similarly effective in 2013 (2.80 ERA, 146/30 K/BB in 129 innings between High-A and Double-A), but hasn't been able to duplicate this in Triple-A, posting a 5.11 ERA in 111 innings for Fresno this year, albeit with a decent 96/37 K/BB. He's given up 128 hits and 16 homers.
Escobar is a 6-1, 185 pounder born April 22, 1992. He has a low-90s fastball and a good changeup, but his breaking ball is inconsistent and he's had trouble putting hitters away in the Pacific Coast League. He's quite effective against lefties, holding them to a .188 average this year, but right-handers read him well and are hitting .336 with 16 homers. He has enough stuff and command to be a good LOOGY if he can't develop another weapon to use against right-handers, but it is too soon to give up on him as a starter in my opinion.
Heath Hembree, RHP: Hembree was selected by the Giants in the fifth round in 2010 from the College of Charleston. He reached Triple-A in 2012 and has spent the last couple of years refining his command in the PCL, lowering his ERA from 4.74 in '12 to 4.07 last year to 3.89 this season. He posted a 63/16 K/BB with 31 saves in 55 innings last year and a 46/13 K/BB in 39 innings with 18 saves in '14. He made his big league debut in '13 and acquitted himself well, throwing 7.2 shutout innings over nine outings with a 12/2 K/BB. For many teams he would have had a guaranteed bullpen spot in '14 but the Giants didn't have room for him.
Hembree is a 6-4, 215 pound right-hander born January 13, 1989. He is a prototype relief pitcher with a fastball that hit 97-98 MPH earlier in his career, although his command is much better when he keeps it at 92-94 and concentrates on location. He has a good slider and the combination shuts down right-handed hitters, who are batting just .202 against him this season. Lefties have better luck (.349) and he'll need to improve that if the Sox want to use him as a big league closer. As it stands, he should still be a valuable middle man and he has nothing left to prove in the minors.
Analysis: Peavy is 33 years old and not having a particularly good year, so flipping him for a pair of younger arms makes sense to me from Boston's perspective. Even if Escobar and Hembree are just middle relief types, they are more likely to help the next good Red Sox team than Peavy is. From the Giants point of view, the bullpen is currently well-manned, but they need an inning-eater to help with the stretch run, which is not a role that Escobar or Hembree can fill. Overall, a good deal for both clubs.