Prospect Fallout: Don’t Overlook The Trade Of Anthony Gose For Devon Travis

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Earlier in the week there was a relatively minor trade between the Tigers and Blue Jays which likely fell under the radar of many fantasy owners.  However the deal could have significant implications, both for 2015 and beyond.  Let’s take a look at the deal that sent Anthony Gose to Detroit in exchange for Devon Travis and what the fallout is:

 

The Tigers Get – OF Anthony Gose
Gose’s name has been on fantasy radars for numerous seasons, likely dating back to the trade that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia all the way back in 2010 (Gose was then immediately flipped by Houston, sending him to Toronto in exchange for Brett Wallace).  Since making his Major League debut in 2012 Gose has gotten 616 PA, hitting .234 with 5 HR in the process.  There is no questioning his speed, and he does have 34 SB over that time, but there are other issues at play.

While he has done a good job of trying to utilize his wheels, putting the ball on the ground (58.6% groundball rate) as opposed to in the air, he also hasn’t hit the ball extremely hard (20.0% career line drive rate).  While we’d like to see a little bit more, it’s not awful and his speed should allow him to maintain an elevated BABIP (.328).

The bigger issue is his strikeouts, with a career 27.6% strikeout rate.  Since 2011 in the minors he’s posted a 25.4% mark, so we can’t call his Major League mark an aberration.  Given his .258 average over that span, the idea of him hitting for an elevated average is hard to buy into and will likely take him out of contention for the role of Tigers’ leadoff hitter.

With Austin Jackson traded last season and Torii Hunter likely departing as a free agent, there obviously is a need in Detroit’s outfield.  His speed is going to make him an intriguing option, as he could easily steal 30-35 bases operating as a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the order.  It’s definitely well worth monitoring and a flier in five-outfielder formats, but there’s limited appeal.

 

The Blue Jays Get – 2B Devon Travis
Toronto was clearly on the lookout for their second baseman of the future, allowing Brett Lawrie to stay at third base.  While Travis could be a year away, having spent 2014 at Double-A, it’s not impossible that he makes the jump immediately.

That said, there are mixed reviews on Travis who likely lacks the true “upside” of other prospects.  Baseball America recently dubbed him as the Tigers’ top prospect saying:

“While there’s nothing flashy about Travis, and he still has his detractors in the scouting community, he has excellent bat-to-ball skills and an extensive track record for hitting everywhere he goes. He has superb hand-eye coordination, good balance at the plate and strong bat control, which allows him to make consistent contact and use the whole field. He’s a smart player who’s been able to make adjustments as he’s moved up the ladder.”

Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 recently ranked him as the Tigers’ #2 prospect saying:

“Devon Travis has a chance to be a solid major league talent in the mold of St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong. There aren’t a lot of plus tools, but instead, he has solid 50 to 55’s across the board (on the 20 to 80 scouting scale).”

Last season those skills led to a .298 average with 10 HR and 16 SB.  He got there courtesy of a 13.6% strikeout rate (11.9% since being drafted in ’12) and .realistic .327 BABIP.  Even if he just continues with these steady numbers, we could be looking at a .280/10/10 type player (or someone similar to Howie Kendrick).  Maybe they aren’t elite numbers, but they aren’t awful either.

It’ll be interesting to see when he’s given an opportunity, but he’s definitely a player worth monitoring.

 

Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Baseball America, Prospect 361

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