Stop me if you've heard this one. Jerry Dipoto made yet another deal this offseason. This time he exchanged catching prospect Jason Goldstein with the Oakland Athletics for pitcher Dillon Overton.
Dipoto has been the busiest general manager in baseball. The Mariners continue to improve their pitching staff, having already grabbed two new starting pitchers and several new faces for the bullpen. Coming off a rough big league debut for the Athletics, Overton may start the season in Tacoma, but like last year, could very easily find himself back in The Show before long.
DILLON OVERTON, LHP
Overton was selected in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft by Oakland. The lefty had a stellar career as a starter for Oklahoma, finishing in the Top 10 in wins and strikeouts before leaving in his junior season. His career was put on hold, needing Tommy John surgery immediately after signing.
The six-foot-two southpaw made it back rather quickly, finishing out the 2014 season on a high note. He hurled 37 innings over Rookie and Short-Season ball, registering a 1.95 ERA over 12 starts. He also proved too much for the opposing hitters, striking out 53 and walking just four.
Our own John Sickels seemed to like how quickly Overton has bounced back. Here's what he had to say in the Baseball Prospect Book 2016:
He's made a full recovery in most respects: he threw 126 innings without trouble last year, and has retained strong command of his fastball, curveball, and change-up. Few pitchers can match his instincts. Alas, his fastball hasn't quite returned to old standards. He could hit 93-95 before the injury, worked at 85-90 during rehab in 2014, and was generally at 88-91 last year. That was still enough for him to succeed against minor league hitters but it reduces his margin of error and makes him more of a potential number four or five starter than a number three as he previously projected.
Overton wound up making seven appearances for the As last season, five of which were starts. It was precisely as John projected, as Overton couldn't seem to capitalize on his errors. He was very hittable, allowing a .407 batting average against, and posted a 11.47 ERA over 24.1 innings. He struck out 17 and walked seven over the same span. Overton was always an extreme fly ball pitcher — a 0.69 ground out-to-air out career rate in the minors — and was burned in the big leagues. He allowed 12 home runs in those 24.1 innings. That was double the amount he allowed in 125.1 innings in the power-happy PCL.
Some still see Overton as a back-end of the rotation starter. Should he get his velocity back and and learn to command his opponents, he seems more like a swingman-type pitcher. One thing is for certain. If he can't learn how to keep the ball in the park, he will be eaten alive in Safeco. The Mariners home stadium allowed the most home runs in 2016.
JASON GOLDSTEIN, Catcher
Talk about makeup. Goldstein was drafted as a 17th rounder by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but decided to return for his senior season at Illinois and complete his engineering degree. Those are the kind of smarts worth having behind the plate. Combine that with the staff he caught for — one consisting of Tyler Jay and Cody Sedlock — Goldstein has some nice upside.
He got a late jump on his career as a 22 year old rookie in professional ball. He did well in the Arizona League before a promotion to the Northwest League. The 5-foot-11 righty accumulated a .279/.328/.311 slash line over the first 19 games of his career.
Goldstein is a force behind the plate. He doesn't overpower you with a cannon, but he has great accuracy, throwing out 50 percent of his runners last season. That number is even better than the 38 percent of base runners he threw out in his senior season. His ability to receive a game from elite pitching prospects can't be ignored.
His modest power at the plate seems to have Goldstein heading for a backup catching role one day. He seems to have good plate awareness, meaning he could improve his on base skills. It will be interesting to see how quickly they Athletics move Goldstein given his age and collegiate experience.