by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We’ve finally gotten a resolution to the Cole Hamels saga, as the Phillies and Rangers have reportedly struck a deal. According to multiple reports the details are as follows:
Rangers Get: RHP Cole Hamels, LHP Jake Diekman
Phillies Get: LHP Matt Harrison, RHP Jake Thompson, RHP Alec Asher, RHP Jerad Eikhoff, C Jorge Alfaro, OF Nick Williams
We all know that the Rangers obtained the top starting pitcher that they coveted, forming a formidable one-two punch with Yu Darvish in the coming years. Could Hamels take a hit in value, moving to the AL? It’s possible, but not something that’s going to send him spiraling down rankings. Diekman brings big strikeout stuff (12.03 K/9 this season), but has significant control issues (5.89 BB/9) and has failed to get left-handed hitters out (.276 BAA). If they could fix the issues he has the makings of a dominant late inning reliever, but for now he’s not going to be a factor.
As for the Phillies return, it’s not just quantity that they got back (though they certainly got a lot of pieces) but also some potential quality. Harrison is the one veteran, though he’s battled injuries over the past three seasons (9 total starts). In his last full season (2012) he went 18-11 with a 3.29 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, using control (2.49 BB/9) and not strikeouts (5.61 K/9) to get the job done. While a move to the NL could help improve the strikeouts, it’s impossible to know what we are going to get from him. For now he can be ignored.
The five prospect package has upside, but also question marks. Let’s take a look at each of them:
C Jorge Alfaro (Rangers #6 Prospect – MLB.com)
There was a time that Alfaro was viewed as one of the elite catching prospects in the game, thanks impart to his 16 HR/16 SB performance at Single-A in 2013. However he’s hitting .253 with 5 HR in 207 PA at Double-A this season and his plate discipline has been atrocious (29.5% strikeout rate, 4.3% walk rate). He also recently underwent ankle surgery, further setting him back.
The upside is there to be an offensive force behind the plate, but he needs to grow both at the plate and, according to MLB.com, on his defense. Long-term he should be the catcher of the future, and if he makes strides could debut as soon as 2016. However, without adjustments he could profile more like a Mike Zunino like .200/20 HR hitter.
OF Nick Williams (Rangers #5 Prospect – MLB.com)
Williams could prove to be the star of the haul the Phillies return. His plate discipline was a nightmare last season:
- High-A – 28.7%
- Double-A – 32.8%
He has made huge strides this season, with an 18.7% strikeout rate in 412 PA at Double-A. Couple that improvement with 38 extra base hits (21 doubles, 4 triples, 13 home runs) and a believable .341 BABIP, and he’s suddenly become a .300 hitter. The question is if the adjustments are believable or not. According to MLB.com:
“Williams’ lightning-fast hands and his strength allow him to drive almost any pitch he can reach. After swinging at just about every pitch that didn’t bounce — and some that did — during his first three pro seasons, he has made impressive strides with his plate discipline in 2015. With moderate patience, he could be a force at the plate when he reaches the big leagues.”
If that continues he’s going to quickly rise to the Majors. Given the questions in Philadelphia’s outfield it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity later this season putting him on all watch lists.
RHP Alex Asher (Rangers #29 Prospect – MLB.com)
He’s made 12 starts at Triple-A this season, but has failed to impress with a 4.73 ERA and 1.39 WHIP over 64.2 IP. The strikeouts haven’t been bad (7.52 K/9) and he’s shown control (2.64 BB/9), but the long ball has hurt him with 16 HR allowed. At best he is a back of the rotation starter, it would seem, though it’s possible he ultimately settles in as a reliever.
RHP Jerad Eikhoff (Rangers #17 Prospect – MLB.com)
Another Triple-A starter (17 appearances, 16 starts), Eickhoff owns 93 K and 33 BB over 101.2 IP. He also has allowed home runs, with 12, but obviously not to the extent of Asher. However he’s a fly ball pitcher (0.57 GO/AO), which ultimately could mean more problems once he reaches Philadelphia. As for his future, MLB.com wonders if he ultimately will be a late inning reliever:
“If Eickhoff can improve his changeup and command, he could be a workhorse No. 3 starter. If not, he could be a late-inning reliever whose pitches should feature more power in shorter stints.”
If Ken Giles struggles, could Eikhoff ultimately become that shut down closer thanks to his better control? It’s something to watch
RHP Jake Thompson (Rangers #4 Prospect – MLB.com)
The best of the pitching prospects obtained, Thompson has struggled at Double-A this season with a 4.72 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over 87.2 IP. MLB.com describes his arsenal by saying:
“Thompson usually throws his fastball at 90-93 mph, peaking at 95 and featuring sinking life. That’s not even his best weapon, however, as that distinction belongs to a slider that can reach 87 mph with depth and qualify as a true wipeout pitch at times. He also uses a curveball and changeup, both of which show flashes of becoming solid-or-better offerings.”
He obviously has some work to do but the upside is there. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him reach the Majors next season, though time will tell.
Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, MILB.com