Last night the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers made a prospect-for-prospect trade, the Giants sending right-handed pitcher Clayton Blackburn to the Rangers for infielder Frandy De La Rosa. Let’s take a look at both of them.
Clayton Blackburn, RHP: Blackburn was originally drafted by the Giants in the 16th round in 2011 from high school in Edmond, Oklahoma. He’s been a consistently solid performer, reaching Triple-A in 2015 and posting an impressive 2.85 ERA in 123 innings. His 2016 season repeating the Pacific Coast League wasn’t as successful, leading to his ranking as number 14 on the Giants Top 20 prospects list with this comment:
14) Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Grade C+/B-: Age 23; 4.36 ERA in 136 innings in Triple-A, 101/35 K/BB, 142 hits; repeated the league after strong ’15 season but didn’t pitch as well due to tripling of home run rate; fastball is average, out-pitch is a curve which did not appear to be as sharp in ’16 as it was in ’15; can mix in a decent change-up and slider; I have been one of his strongest advocates in the past but it looked to me like his stuff went a bit backwards in ’16, enough to deflate some enthusiasm; he did look sharper late in the year and he shouldn’t be dismissed as a potential fourth/fifth starter. ETA 2017.
He was hit hard in spring training this year, giving up 14 hits in 8.2 innings altough he did post a nice 8/2 K/BB. His profile as a potential strike-throwing workhorse type hasn’t changed but it was evident that he wasn't going to get much of a chance in the Giants system. He will have more of an opportunity with the Rangers, although the park context won’t be as friendly in Texas.
Frandy De La Rosa, INF: Frandy de La Rosa was originally signed by the Chicago Cubs as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2012. He spent 2013 and 2014 in the Dominican Summer League, then moved up to the Northwest League in 2015 and performed reasonably well, hitting .273/.315/.367. The Cubs traded him to the Rangers in the fall of 2015 for Spencer Patton. His debut in full-season ball in 2016 resulted in a .250/.330/.351 line with 45 walks and 92 strikeouts in 424 at-bats. He stole 19 bases but was caught an unsightly 23 times. He opened 201 cold in the Carolina League, hitting .107 in his first eight games.
De La Rosa is a switch-hitter, age 21, listed at 6-1, 180. He came into pro ball as a shortstop but shifted to second base in 2015. His range and arm fit well there and he’s gradually reduced his error rates with experience. He was actually playing first base this year in High-A due to roster crowding but second base is a better fit.
Offensively, de la Rosa has a reputation as a streaky hitter, having phases where he rakes for high averages and OBPs with moderate power, but punctuated by long stretches where he produces nothing. He has yet to learn how to use his speed on the bases and has been a terrible percentage stealer to this point.
His best attribute at this point is youth: he’s still just 21, and was respected enough to earn a $700,000 bonus a few years ago. He’s worth a flier for the Giants.