This evening the San Diego Padres and the Kansas City Royals made a six-player deal: the Royals receive veteran pitchers Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer, and Ryan Buchter. In exchange the Padres receive right-hander Travis Wood and two prospects: left-handed pitcher Matt Strahm and infield prospect Esteury Ruiz. Here’s a quick look at the two prospects involved.
Esteury Ruiz, INF: The Royals signed Ruiz out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, giving him a bonus of $100,000. He made some noise in the 2016 Dominican Summer League, hitting .313/.378/.512 and outplaying many guys with larger bonuses. He’s off to a hot start in 2017, batting .419/.440/.779 in the Arizona Rookie League. He’s swiped nine bases in nine attempts this year but has drawn just four walks against 20 strikeouts in 96 at-bats.
Ruiz is listed at 6-0, 150, a right-handed hitter and thrower born February 15th, 1999. As you’d expect with the height-weight data he doesn’t look like a beast on the surface but he draws glowing reviews for his wiry strength and hitting feel, Ben Badler at Baseball America for example noting “strong wrists and explosive hands” that generate outstanding bat speed.
Ruiz has shown an aggressive approach in Arizona but his production has been excellent. He likely lacks the arm strength to play shortstop at the higher levels but he’s looked quite good at second base this summer, making only two errors in his first 17 games.
Matt Strahm, LHP: Strahm was drafted in the 21st round in 2012 from Neosho County Community College in Kansas. He reached the majors last year and was impressive (1.23 ERA in 22 innings, 30/11 K/BB) but retained his rookie eligibility for 2017. He made the MLB roster in spring training but struggled with his command this year, posting a 5.45 ERA in 35 innings with a 37/22 K/BB. He went on the disabled list July 3rd with a knee injury and will miss the rest of the season following surgery.
Strahm is 6-3, 185, born November 12th, 1991. He features a four-seam fastball at 92-96 MPH, along with a curveball, slider, and change-up. He was mainly a starter in the minors and a successful one with his broad arsenal.
Although he began his MLB career in the bullpen the Royals gave him three starts in June shortly before he hurt his knee. He can dominate when his command is working; it will be interesting to see how the Padres deploy Strahm once he returns to health next spring.