The Detroit Tigers traded veteran Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the New York Mets right before the trade deadline on Friday afternoon. In exchange, Detroit will receive a pair of pitching prospects: right-handers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa. Here's a quick take.
Michael Fulmer, RHP: The Mets drafted Fulmer in the supplemental first round in 2011 from high school in Edmond, Oklahoma. He has been generally effective in the minor leagues when healthy and has been excellent so far in 2015, posting a 1.88 ERA in 86 innings over 15 starts for Binghamton in the Double-A Eastern League, with an 83/23 K/BB and just 70 hits allowed. This is a considerable improvement over his 3.97 ERA, 86/31 and 112 hits in 95 innings last year in High-A.
Fulmer is listed at 6-3, 200, age 22. He has been dogged by nagging injuries for much of his career, particularly knee problems that limited him to 46 innings in 2013. There is little doubt about the stuff: Fulmer can hit 95 with the fastball, both his curveball and slider can be above-average, and his change-up is an adequate fourth option. His command has steadily improved.
Some scouts view Fulmer as a future reliever for durability concerns but he has the stuff to be a starter and it increasingly looks like he has the command as well. He's posted an 18/1 K/BB in his last two starts and looks ready for a Triple-A trial. A healthy Fulmer looks like a potentially strong number three starter.
Luis Cessa, RHP: Born in Mexico, Cessa was signed in 2008, originally as a third baseman. He couldn't hit however so he converted to pitching in 2010 with good results, moving slowly but steadily up the Mets farm ladder. He's been very effective this year in Double-A (2.56, 61/17 K/BB in 77 innings) but has found the going more difficult in the unforgiving environment of Las Vegas and the Pacific Coast League (8.51 ERA, with a nice 24/4 K/BB but 40 hits in 24 innings).
Cessa is listed at 6-3, 190, age 23. He can hit 96 in short stretches but more commonly works at 90-92. He throws strikes but reports on his secondary pitches vary depending on the source: some reliable observers say he has a very good change-up but needs to enhance his breaking ball, while other also-reliable observers say his breaking stuff is solid enough but his change-up needs work. I guess you can say he's inconsistent with the secondary pitches.
Despite his rough early outings in Triple-A, Cessa has major league arm strength and throws strikes. If he can round out his full arsenal he can be a back-end starter or a solid bullpen option.