At the 2016 trade deadline, the Oakland Athletics were selling. Nobody wants to be a seller —and consequently a losing ball club— but every now and then it pays off to just clear house.
Part of their clubhouse cleanse consisted of a rather unremarkable trade with the Washington Nationals in the late stages of the August waiver trading period. Hollywood’s own Billy Beane sent left-handed specialist reliever Marc Rzepczynski —who thankfully has the nickname “Scrabble”— to the contending Nationals for infield prospect Max Schrock.
Rzepczynski pitched 13.2 total innings for the Nats, including two frames in the playoffs. He took an unfortunate “L” in October against the Dodgers but had a very good regular season stint and all things considered gave Washington what they were looking for.
19 appearances from Scrabble did cost them a pretty interesting prospect in Schrock.
A Washington selected in the 13th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the 5 foot 8 South Carolina product has not stopped hitting since he became a pro.
Largely unknown, our eagle-eyed boss John Sickels ranked him 15th overall in his 2016 preseason Nationals rankings. (It’s super smart to plug your boss, isn’t it?)
Predominantly a second baseman, he’s also played both parts of the infield’s left side. He fits best at the keystone, but if his bat continues to impress he will find a spot on Oakland’s major league roster at any of the infield positions.
His 46-game rookie ball debut produced a .308 average, 10 doubles, 13 stolen bases and 13 walks. He performed above the norm, but this breakout performance turned out to only be a taste of what’s to come.
He tore apart High-A pitching in 2016, hitting .341 with five home runs and seven stolen bases. After being dealt to Oakland in August, he was promoted to Double-A Midland and has been one of the RockHounds go-to players for the past year and a half.
Virtually guaranteed to begin 2017 at at least Triple-A Nashville, Schrock will turn 23 next month.
After playing in the Arizona Fall League, he continued to display the ultimate tool this season: the bat. He slashed .321/.379/.422, finishing fourth in the league in hitting.
He hit seven home runs and stole four bases. Power will never be his hallmark but he’s got great speed, however he didn’t run a lot this season, attempting just six steals. He stole 22 bags in 2016. Despite the dip in the steal’s column, he continued to hit at an extremely efficient clip.
Mark Rzepczynski was a rental for the Nationals and left in the off-season to pitch for the Seattle Mariners, never really an option to stay in Washington for his nearly $6 million salary on a team decorated with huge contracts.
The A’s knew they could get value for a veteran relief pitcher who wouldn’t stick around past their September conclusion. What they may not have known was how good Max Schrock could actually be when he was the one they acquired.
Schrock and Schroll, baby.