On Wednesday evening the Seattle Mariners traded left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery and pitching prospect Jordan Pries to the Chicago Cubs for a pair of prospects: first baseman Dan Vogelbach and right-handed pitcher Paul Blackburn. Here's a quick take.
Paul Blackburn, RHP: Here's what I wrote about Blackburn pre-season in the Baseball Prospect Book
Paul Blackburn does several things well. A 2012 supplemental first-rounder from high school in California, he throws strikes, shows good pitching instincts, and has made progress with both his curveball and change-up. His velocity is erratic, ranging from 86-89 in some games to 92-94 in others. Obviously the higher readings are preferable but he hasn’t maintained them over the course of a season yet. He also made two visits to the disabled list last year and it remains to be seen what kind of workload he’ll manage at higher levels. I have been optimistic about his chances, thinking that his velocity could pick up, but right now he looks more like fifth starter material or possibly a bullpen arm. Grade C.
2016 has been a very good season for him: 3.17 ERA in 102 innings in Double-A with a 72/26 K/BB and 96 hits allowed. He's held his fastball velocity more readily this year in the low-90s while making further progress with a tighter curveball. Best of all he's been healthy. The 6-1, 195 pound right-hander is 22 years old and I'd move his grade up to a C+ based on current information.
Jordan Pries, RHP: Pries was drafted by the Mariners in the 30th round out of Stanford in 2011. He's been pitching in Double-A and Triple-A since 2014 with adequate results, including a 3.65 ERA this year in 25 innings for Triple-A Tacoma with a 21/7 K/BB. Overall in his career he has a 4.41 ERA with a 464/164 K/BB in 553 innings.
Pries is a 6-0, 190 pounder age 26. His best pitch is his breaking ball (shown in the video below) and he can mix in a decent change-up, but his fastball tops out at 89 and he has to be very sharp with his control to survive. He's been mainly a starter in pro ball but in the majors projects as an 11th or 12th man on a staff.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B: A 23 year old second round pick from a Florida high school in 2011, Vogelbach was hitting .318/.425/.548 in Triple-A but was blocked in Chicago. The pre-season view:
Another year, another season of strong, steady production from Dan Vogelbach. In context, his 2015 season was his finest campaign since rookie ball in 2012, with a wRC+ mark of 140 being the best of his career at the full-season levels. He missed most of July and the first part of August with an oblique strain but overall he had few problems adapting to Double-A. Vogelbach combines above-average raw power with good strike zone judgment and a mechanically-sound swing. As before, the question here is defense. He doesn’t make an excessive number of errors at first base, but his range is quite limited and nobody is foolhardy enough to try him in the outfield. He’s a born DH, which makes him a tough fit in Chicago-NL. He can hit though. We will hold steady with a Grade B- since he had a fine year, but it is hard to see how he fits into the lineup barring a trade or a catastrophic number of injuries ahead of him.
None of that has changed, except he's doing it at the highest minor league level now and has nothing left to prove down there. Defense remains his main limitation but he can hit. We'll have to see how well he can adapt to conditions at Safeco.