About the returns…
As we await the inevitable announcement that Clifton Phifer Lee and Ben Francisco are Philly-bound (that announcement appears likely to come some time after the conclusion of today’s game), we might as well explore the prospect returns the Indians will no doubt be touting.
The Indians were looking for pitching, pitching and more pitching. In this trade, they’d be getting pitching, pitching and a couple position players, one of which is a catcher, fueling speculation that Victor Martinez will be next on the block before Friday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.
Here’s a rundown of the four players, with recent comments from Phillies assistant GM Chuck LaMar, courtesy of MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.
RHP JASON KNAPP
18 years old, 6-foot-5, 215 pounds
It would appear Knapp is the key to the deal, from the Indians’ perspective (well, that, and cutting costs, but that’s another topic for another blog entry).
Knapp doesn’t turn 19 until Aug. 31, and he’s struck out 111 batters in 85 1/3 innings in the South Atlantic League. By all accounts, he’s a competitive, confident kid with electric stuff (his fastball has been clocked at 98 mph).
But Knapp hasn’t pitched since July 11 because of right shoulder soreness. It’s not considered serious, but it’s still a bit of a red flag at this early stage of his development.
“His right shoulder seemed tired,” LaMar said. “We took all precautions, but he got an immediate, clean bill of health. No problems. He started to throw [Sunday]. No problems. Somewhere in that first week in August, he’ll be back on the mound pitching for Lakewood. When you have that kind of talent at 18, we just didn’t want to take any chances. But safe to say, the way he’s thrown, stuff-wise, he has to be one of the better young Minor League pitching prospects in baseball.”
Kyle Drabek was the prospect that apparently stood in the way of Roy Halladay to the Phillies. The Blue Jays wanted him, and the Phillies wouldn’t part with him. Knapp might even be a more promising prospect than Drabek, but it’s way too soon to tell. If nothing else, Knapp is bigger than the 6-foot, 185-pound Drabek.
“Kyle Drabek is not a real big guy,” LaMar said. “And Jason has thrown many outings this year up to 98 [mph]. And he won’t be 19 until August. To catch a Kyle Drabek, his secondary pitches will have to improve, and they have. They’re two different guys. Jason is a power, power arm going through the learning process. Kyle is more of a complete package right now. But both of them are what you’re looking for.”
It’s been speculated that Knapp’s future might be in the back end of a bullpen.
RHP CARLOS CARRASCO
22 years old, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds
The line on Carrasco is that his stock has dropped this season. He went a combined 9-9 with a 3.69 ERA in 26 appearances between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year. This year, he’s 6-9 with a 5.18 ERA at Lehigh Valley. He’s struck out 112 and walked 38 in 114 2/3 innings.
LaMar, for one, disputed the dropped stock notion Monday, though obviously he made the following remarks at a time when the Phillies were shopping the right-hander.
“We like Carlos Carrasco better right now than we did at any time last year,” LaMar said. “He moved up to Triple-A [last year] and pitched well, and this year he got off to a really slow start. But some of that was self-induced by us. There were certain things Carlos needed to do to become a good Major League pitcher. Start to learn to throw more inside. We introduced a slider to him. He’s gone through some growing pains. To be a good Major League pitcher, Carlos is making progress. We’re glad he’s taken to the changes. Carlos gets it. We could have called Carlos Carrasco to the Majors several times this year, but we thought it would impede his development.”
C LOU MARSON
23 years old, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds
All right, here’s where it gets tricky. The Indians have no need for a catcher, at the moment. They have Victor Martinez under contract through 2010, Kelly Shoppach backing him up, and Chris Gimenez as a third catcher. And that’s just the big-league level. The Tribe is also high on Wyatt Toregas, as he’s put together a strong year at Triple-A Columbus, and Double-A Akron’s Carlos Santana is considered one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball.
The only way Marson’s acquisition makes sense – and, again, I’m writing this before the deal is official and before the Indians’ front office has had any chance to explain their rationale behind this trade – is if Martinez or Shoppach are moved. Or maybe Marson gets flipped. At this point, anything is possible, but obviously, if the Indians are trading Lee, they are looking more toward 2011 than 2010, and one would assume they’re open to the possibility of trading V-Mart.
Anyway, about Marson… He got off to a slow start at Lehigh Valley this year. He’s rebounded over the last couple months and is now batting .294 with a .751 OPS. As far as intangibles are concerned, he spent all of September with the Phillies last year and traveled with them during their World Series run. If nothing else, that experience had to be helpful.
SS JASON DONALD
24 years old, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds
Again, this one’s going to have to be explained to me. The Indians have what appears to be the makings of a set middle infield in Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Valbuena, who they are clearly fond of. And Donald doesn’t have the bat to move to third.
Donald is batting .236 with a .629 OPS at Triple-A this year. He just returned to action this week after missing more than a month following knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
“He can be an everyday player,” LaMar said. “Like anyone with his skill set, he’s got to prove it at every level. Some young men get the opportunity to be starters just because they run faster, throw harder, bigger, stronger, more power. In this game we have a tendency to give those people all the opportunity. Jason has to prove it at every level. But what Jason has done is prove it at every level. I don’t think there’s anybody I talked to, baseball people from outside our organization, that is betting against him.”