The blockbuster the New York Yankees have been sitting on all winter has finally come. The Cincinnati Reds finally sent Aroldis Chapman packing, picking up four prospects from the Yankees in return.
It is somewhat a curious move by both parties. Chapman of course is amid some off the field drama, stemming from domestic violence investigation and a possible pending suspension. The Reds, despite getting quantity, didn’t exactly get the quality of top prospects that you may think from a newly reloaded Yankees farm system. Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez are staying put.
That’s not to say that the Reds didn’t make out in the deal. So who did they get?
RHP ROOKIE DAVIS:
Some may see Eric Jagielo as the center piece of the trade, but I have always liked Davis. Davis is a 22-year old righty who has a tremendous frame, standing at 6 foot 3 and roughly 240 pounds. He is a big time strikeout pitcher, powered by a four-seam fastball that tends to hit the mid-90s, clocked around the 94-96 area. He has a pair of secondary pitches in a breaking 70-mph curveball and an 80-mph changeup that are still average, but have show much improvement over the years.
Last season, his fourth since being drafted in the 14th round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Yankees, was arguably one of his best. He tossed 130.2 combined innings between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, posting a 3.86 ERA and a career best 1.21 WHIP. Davis struck out 129 over 130.2 (8.9 K/9), while walking a mere 26 batters all season (1.8 BB/9). He reduced the amount of hits and home runs he let up from the year prior while pitching more innings as well.
Here's a strikeout behind that fastball courtesy of FanGraphs:
Command had always been what held Davis back in the past, but he seems to have gotten over that hump. Working with refining his arsenal (he reportedly canned his cutter two seasons ago) and a tweaked delivery that uses his big frame to his advantage, Davis became more of a swing and miss strikeout pitcher as evidenced in his two most impressive outings (one with 9 strikeouts and no walks, and the other with 10 strikeouts and no walks) of 2015. He has a bit to go, pitching a mere 33.1 innings over A-ball in his first four years, but if he continues to progress like last year, he could be in the Reds rotation much sooner than later.
3B ERIC JAGIELO:
Jagielo was one of the big three prospects drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft along with Ian Clarkin and Aaron Judge. Two seasons of injuries have stinted the future slugger’s progression, but he has shown all the signs of a future home run masher.
He has struggled staying on the field, missing parts of each season since 2013 with a different injury. He has also missed the Arizona Fall League he was slated to be part of in both 2014 and 2015. The constant time away from the field has raised questions about Jagielo’s future.
While considered the third baseman of the future for the Yankees, his defense seemingly never improved. There were talks within the organization that Jagielo would be possibly moved to the outfield — after a not so impressive attempt at first base in Trenton — as they no longer saw him sticking at third base. He has a big arm, but his range and mobility leave a bit to be desired.
What Jagielo can do is hit home runs. He drilled 16 home runs two seasons ago with Tampa in just 309 at bats, while hitting nine more last year before injuries derailed him yet again. The question arises — as with most young power hitters — in his plate discipline. He seems to strike out about 25% of the time annually, while his walk rate has lowered each season of his young career, dropping to a career low 7.3% last season.
Jagielo’s bat will get him to the Majors soon, and at only 23-years of age, he has time to get it right. A full healthy season and perhaps a fresh start could easily accelerate that journey.
Here's a little on Jagielo from FanGraphs:
2B TONY RENDA
Renda was a second round pick by the Washington Nationals in the 2012 MLB Draft. He now finds himself on his third team in less than a calendar year.
The 24-year old second baseman was surely included in the deal as a backup plan should the Reds finally be able to move Brandon Phillips. Nothing screams extraordinary about Renda, but he seems to have developed into a steady and reliable player.
Renda has little power (six career home runs in 1710 career at bats) but has proven to be a tough strikeout at the plate. He hits for contact and has patience at the plate behind good plate discipline. Last season, he struck out 39 times while walking 43 time in 480 at bats split between the Double-A teams of the Nationals and Yankees. He seems to have good base path awareness as well, swiping 23 of 29 attempts last season.
While Renda has provided reliable defense at second base, many feel his range and arm strength are limited, preventing him from playing shortstop. The lack of agility to play several positions may be what has slowed his progress to the bigs, but if Phillips does get traded, I would imagine Renda gets fast tracked at some point in 2015.
RHP CALEB COTHAM:
Cotham was a fifth round draft pick back in 2009 for the Yankees. The 28-year old righty was one of the many pitchers at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that Joe Girardi used in the revolving door he called a bullpen in the Bronx this past season.
He struggled mightily in his big league debut, allowing four home runs over 10 innings. Big league batters his .326 (14 hits) and scored seven runs during his short tenure. The promising note was that he struck out 11 while walking just one.
He was much more successful in the Minors, where he posted a 2.21 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while striking out 61 in 57 innings split between Double and Triple-A. Cotham doesn’t seem to be much more than bullpen filler for the Reds.