The Seattle Mariners traded veteran pitcher Mark Lowe to the Toronto Blue Jays this afternoon. In exchange, the Mariners receive three minor league pitching prospects: Jake Brentz, Rob Rasmussen, and Nick Wells. Here is a quick summary.
Jake Brentz, LHP: Jake Brentz was drafted in the 11th round in 2013 from high school in Manchester, Missouri. He was seen as a third round talent but fell in the draft due to a University of Missouri commitment. The Jays signed him for $700,000, well over slot of course. His performance in the minors has been spotty. He pitched 2014 with Bluefield in the Appalachian League and returned there again in 2015. Thus far he has a 4.80 ERA in 69 career innings, all in rookie ball, with a 58/49 K/BB.
Brentz is 20 years old and listed at 6-2, 195. He has plenty of arm, clocked as high as 96 as an amateur and consistently in the low-90s as a pro. His change-up is ahead of his curveball and both secondary pitches need refinement, as does his overall command. Brentz has upside but remains raw in most respects, particularly with his mechanics.
Rob Rasmussen, LHP: Rasmussen was originally drafted by the Marlins in the second round in 2010 out of UCLA. He has racked up the frequent flier miles as a pro: this is his fifth trade. Pitching in the Jays system this year at Triple-A Buffalo, he has a 2.36 ERA in 42 innings with a 40/20 K/BB and 26 hits allowed. Left-handed hitters are batting just .131 against him.
Rasmussen began his career as a starter but switched to relief work in 2014 and looks like a good fit there. Age 26, he can generate fastballs up to 94 MPH despite a 5-10 frame. He can vary speeds with his breaking ball and is quite tough on lefties when his command is working. He's pitched 12 big league innings over the last two seasons with a 2.57 ERA and a 14/7 K/BB.
Nick Wells, LHP: Drafted in the third round in 2014 from high school in Somerset, Virginia, Wells has made seven starts for Bluefield this summer with a 4.78 ERA with a 31/11 K/BB in 32 innings with 30 hits allowed.
Age 19, Wells is a tall 6-5, 180 pound southpaw. His fastball can touch 94 and there could be more there eventually, but his curveball and change-up are still in the early developmental stages. He's flashed good control and has the upside of a mid rotation starter. Like Brentz, Wells has plenty of natural ability but is still learning to use it.
Overall, I like this trade for the Mariners. Lowe is getting old and is your basic fungible reliever in the big picture despite his 1.00 ERA this year. Swapping him for a younger major league-ready reliever and two projectable southpaw arms seems reasonable to me from Seattle's point of view.