Last night, the Mets reportedly agreed to a deal with the Brewers centered around Carlos Gomez. The trade fell through due to injury and financial concerns, and a day later the Astros swooped in an offered a multitude of top prospects in exchange for a year and a half of Gomez. Houston will send Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, Josh Hader and Adrian Houser to Milwaukee and also receive starter Mike Fiers in return in addition to Gomez.
Brett Phillips is clearly the headliner of this deal. He has improved every year since Houston selected him in the 6th round of the 2012 draft and he looks like a solid bet to be a regular at this point. He’s slashing .320/.377/.548 across High-A and Double-A with 54 extra-base-hits (16 home runs) and 15 steals. His contact tool should ease his transition to the major leagues when he gets there. I don’t think he will ever hit more than 20 home runs in the bigs but he might get to that plateau at maturity. Brett is known as a hustle-guy who is fun to watch. He may not lead the league in any category during his career, but he brings a broad base of skills and tools to Milwaukee. The Brewers landed a really good piece for there future in Phillips. He’s just 21 years old.
An extremely talented player with flaws, the right coaching could turn Domingo Santana into an All-Star. Santana, 22, has been excellent this year in Triple-A Fresno. He has slugged 16 home runs and owns a .320/.426/.582 line in 75 games. Yes, his strikeout totals are still a concern. But Domingo’s 27.9% K rate is actually an improvement on his career numbers and his 14.7% walk rate is a professional high. The 22-year-old even held his own in a 42 big leagues at-bats this year (111 wRC+). I may venture to say that Santana could have a higher ceiling than Phillips. Should he improve his contact (and avoid the Chris Carter comparisons), he could be a really valuable bat in the middle of Milwaukee’s lineup. Right-handed sluggers in today’s game are extremely rare. And the Brew Crew got a young, cheap, controllable, and major league ready one in Santana.
Drafted in the 19th round by the Baltimore Orioles, Hader has risen from relative obscurity to cement his status as a prospect. Josh has a very funky delivery, swinging back and forth before quickly accelerating and whipping the ball out of his hands. From a stuff perspective, the southpaw can reach 94 mph with his fastball, which moves away from right-handed hitters and into lefties. His change-up looks like an above-average pitch and plays up due to Hader’s deception. The slider can get a bit loopy and he slows his arm speed when throwing it. Unsurprisingly, with all the movement on his pitches, the 21-year-old’s control could use some work. He’s walked 4.0 batters per nine this season; if he wants to remain a starter, Hader must stop giving away so many his free passes. Given the uncertainty regarding control and a third pitch for Hader, I think his future lies as a back-end starter. But, if Milwaukee can improve his slider and his control, he could be a solid number three. If not, Josh has plenty of talent to be an impact reliever, and can fall back to a LOOGY role if nothing better materializes.
The only prospect here missing from John’s Prospect Book, Houser has yet to make good on his potential that got him drafted in the second round back in 2011. He has struggled to a combined 5.10 ERA between High-A and Double-A this season. Unfortunately, 2015 is not really an outlier; the righty hasn’t been much better (4.30 ERA in 347 IP) over his pro career. But, at just 22 years old, there may still be hope for Adrian. Reportedly, his fastball hovered around 93-95 last year in the Midwest League and his slider took a big step forward. Maybe a change of scenery unlocks that potential Houston saw four years ago. And if not, Adrian should be able to parlay a strong fastball-slider combination into a bullpen job. Houser does not have the ceiling of the three aforementioned prospects, but he’s not a bad throw-in a deadline deal.
I think the Astros vastly overpaid for Carlos Gomez. I do think Gomez is a good ballplayer. But with his hip injury, he is no longer a stolen base threat and his defense will likely take a tick downward. Phillips was a guy I was really excited about in the ‘Stros farm system. He plays hard, loves the game, and is one of the better-looking outfield prospects in baseball right now. Santana’s power makes him a rare commodity and Hader could be a quality innings-eater for the Brewers. Houston seems to be paying for the Gomez of 2014, when he hit .284/.338/.506 and stole 40 bags. I’m not so sure we will ever see that level of performance from Carlos again. This is a huge win for the Brewers.