The long-rumored Manny Machado trade happened this evening, the Baltimore Orioles shipping the star infielder to the Los Angeles Dodgers for five prospects. Here is a quick take on the newest members of the Orioles organization.
Yusniel Diaz, OF: The Dodgers signed Diaz as a free agent in November 2015, spending $31,000,000 to sign the Cuban defector (half as a bonus, half as penalty tax). By far the best known prospect in the trade, he is having an excellent season in Double-A, hitting .314/.428/.477 for the Tulsa Drillers with six homers, 41 walks, and just 39 strikeouts in 220 at-bats.
Age 21, Diaz is a right-handed hitter and thrower listed at 6-1, 195. He’s shown strong pure hitting skills with a fine batting eye and has reduced his strikeout rate and boosted his walks significantly this year despite playing at a higher level. Although his raw power is rated as just average by most observers he can certainly put a charge in the ball, as he demonstrated by hitting two homers in the 2018 Futures Game. His defense need some polish but he has the range and arm to manage all three outfield positions.
Rylan Bannon, INF: The Dodgers drafted Bannon in the eighth round in 2017 from Xavier University. 2018 has gone well for him, with a .296/.402/.559 slash line for Rancho Cucamonga in the High-A California League. He’s hit 20 homers while drawing 59 walks against 103 strikeouts in 338 at-bats.
Bannon is 22 years old, listed at 5-10, 180, a right-handed hitter and thrower. There’s some real power in the bat despite his size, though the strikeout rate is high enough (and the Cal League friendly enough) that his offensive profile at higher levels is still rather opaque. He features a strong arm and is a capable defender at both third and second base, though his range would be stretched at shortstop.
Dean Kremer, RHP: Kremer was drafted in the 14th round in 2016 from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He’s spent most of 2018 at Rancho Cucamonga, posting a 3.30 ERA in 79 innings with a sharp 114/26 K/BB. He was recently promoted to Tulsa and fanned 11 men in his first start on July 5th.
Kremer is 22 years old, listed at 6-3, 180. His best pitch is a 90-95 MPH fastball with plus movement. He also has a decent curveball and has done a good job throwing strikes this year. Reports on his change-up vary and there’s mixed opinion about his long-term role, but his clear success in the hitter-friendly Cal League this season is a positive sign.
Zach Pop, RHP: Drafted in the seventh round in 2017 from the University of Kentucky, Pop has split 2018 between Low-A Great Lakes and High-A Rancho, dominating at both levels. Combined he has a 1.04 ERA in 43 innings this season with a 47/13 K/BB and only 25 hits allowed.
Pop is 21 years old, listed at 6-4, 220. He has a classic relief profile with a fastball at 94-98 and a slider that can be erratic but is overpowering on his best days. His college track record was inconsistent and there’s some worry about durability but his performance in pro ball has been excellent to this point.
Breyvic Valera, INF: Valera is from Venezuela, originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2010. The Dodgers picked him up in a trade this past spring. He has a good track record in Triple-A, hitting .314/.368/.450 for Memphis last season and .284/.350/.433 for Oklahoma City this year. He’s appeared briefly in the majors with the Cardinals and Dodgers, hitting just .154/.250/.154 in 39 at-bats.
Age 26, Valera is a switch-hitter listed at 5-11, 160. His best attributes are line drive hitting and defensive versatility. He controls the strike zone reasonably well but has never shown much pop outside the Pacific Coast League. Overall he profiles as a utility infielder.
Diaz is one of the better hitting prospects in all of baseball and the key to the trade; the Orioles really need him to pan out to make this worthwhile. Kremer and Pop add pitching depth to the farm system while Bannon looks like an intriguing sleeper, though we need to see if the whiffs inhibit him as he moves up. Valera is a utility guy but could be a good one.