On Wednesday night, the White Sox and Athletics completed a trade to send 2B/3B Brett Lawrie to Chicago in exchange for pitching prospects Zach Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. Let's take a closer look at tErwin and Wendelken to see what kind of talent Oakland added to their organization.
RHP J.B. Wendelken
A 13th round pick of the Red Sox in 2012, J.B. Wendelken was traded to the White Sox as part of the package for Jake Peavy at the 2013 trade deadline. Wendelken was given an opportunity to work out of the rotation at High A Winston Salem for his new organization in 2014 with underwhelming results. The White Sox moved him to the bullpen for 2015. He split time between Double A and Triple A working a combined 59 innings with a 3.20 ERA, 10.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
Listed at an even six feet and weighing 235 pounds, Wendelken's right-handed frame is well filled out. He features a low-90's fastball and a strong change up. His results as a reliever in the high minors suggest he is nearly ready to contribute to the Oakland bullpen. He may not have the ceiling of a truly dominant closer, but there should be a useful reliever here.
LHP Zack Erwin
Chicago's 4th round pick in the 2015 amateur draft, the lanky lefty from Clemson is listed at 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds. After signing, the White Sox sent Erwin to their Rookie Ball team at Great Falls in the Pioneer League for eight appearances before a promotion to Low A Kannapolis for seven more games. Erwin handled the low minors as well as you would expect of a polished starter from a strong college program. In 40.1 professional innings, Erwin had a 1.34 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, and 1.6 BB/9.
I had a chance to see Erwin in person against South Carolina at Fluor Field in Greenville, South Carolina at the end of February. He is a classic pitchability lefty with good control and the ability to effectively mix his pitches. His fastball works most often in the 87-90 velocity band and occasionally touches higher. His curve ball and change up give him two secondary pitches that have a chance to be at least average.
The overall control and command profile allows his arsenal to play up. With some room to fill out physically and a fairly high floor, I see Erwin as the type of player who has a good chance to make it to the Major Leagues and maybe even exceed expectations in the long run, especially if he can add a few ticks to his heater..
Lawrie represents a solid addition from the White Sox point of view. The team's offensive production at both second and third base have been among the worst in baseball for several years running now. With the likes of Gordon Beckham, Matt Davidson, Carlos Sanchez, and Micah Johnson unable to lock down either spot, the Pale Hose looked to the trade market and found Lawrie. He has a respectable offensive track record and remaining upside. His defensive flexibility gives the White Sox the ability to continue to pursue multiple options to improve their offense, either at the hot corner or the keystone.
From Oakland's point of view, the Brett Lawrie era comes to an anticlimactic end. The decision to deal Josh Donaldson last off season was immediately met with heavy criticism. Lawrie was a key component of that deal, and to have his tenure in Oakland yield such limited value will almost certainly cement the Donaldson deal as one of Billy Beane's worst. With that said, I think it is possible that both Wendelken and Erwin reach the Major Leagues and each of them has a chance to carve out a role for Oakland in the long run.