Bernie on the Scene: Evaluating Recently Traded Prospects

Bernie on the Scene: Evaluating Recently Traded Prospects

This article is part of our Bernie on the Scene series.

This week, I'm going to provide scouting profiles of several minor league prospects recently acquired in trades.

I will provide an analysis and grade for each player.

Scout grading scale:

45 - Marginal player in a utility or part-time role

50 - Every day player subject to platoon

55 - Multiple tools, every day player less subject to platoon, above average skills

60 - Occasional All Star quality potential with skills well above league average

1. The Texas Rangers received these New York Yankees prospects for Joey Gallo and Joely Rodriguez:

Josh Smith-SS-Age 23-Bats L-5-10, 172 pounds
2nd round 2019 draft pick out of Louisiana State
Traded while playing at High-A Hudson Valley
Smith signed for $978,500

A good athlete and a solid hitter, Smith profiles best as a second base candidate due to weak arm strength. He does, however, have good enough hands and range to play solid defense.

He is seen by many as the top prospect in the package for Gallo. I would disagree. See Ezequiel Duran below.

Smith has always hit since turning professional. He has solid bat-to-ball contact skills, and it is likely he will carry his career trend of hitting for a high average with him to the big leagues. Scouts seem to think power will come in his game. So far, that hasn't been the case. He has a total of nine homers this season, including six in 50 plate appearances while he was still at Single-A Tampa early in the

This week, I'm going to provide scouting profiles of several minor league prospects recently acquired in trades.

I will provide an analysis and grade for each player.

Scout grading scale:

45 - Marginal player in a utility or part-time role

50 - Every day player subject to platoon

55 - Multiple tools, every day player less subject to platoon, above average skills

60 - Occasional All Star quality potential with skills well above league average

1. The Texas Rangers received these New York Yankees prospects for Joey Gallo and Joely Rodriguez:

Josh Smith-SS-Age 23-Bats L-5-10, 172 pounds
2nd round 2019 draft pick out of Louisiana State
Traded while playing at High-A Hudson Valley
Smith signed for $978,500

A good athlete and a solid hitter, Smith profiles best as a second base candidate due to weak arm strength. He does, however, have good enough hands and range to play solid defense.

He is seen by many as the top prospect in the package for Gallo. I would disagree. See Ezequiel Duran below.

Smith has always hit since turning professional. He has solid bat-to-ball contact skills, and it is likely he will carry his career trend of hitting for a high average with him to the big leagues. Scouts seem to think power will come in his game. So far, that hasn't been the case. He has a total of nine homers this season, including six in 50 plate appearances while he was still at Single-A Tampa early in the year. Not bad, but it isn't against great big-league pitching.

Fantasy Relevance: A good hitter but slow runner, Smith is the type of hitter who can be a pest. I can see him spoiling pitches, driving the ball to the gaps with a short, measured swing and getting his share of home runs as his body continues to mature. I think he will be aided in fantasy if his role is at second base as opposed to shortstop. CONSIDER

Scouting Grade: 50

Trevor Hauver-2B-Age 22-Bats L-6-0, 205 pounds
3rd round draft pick in 2020 out of Arizona State
Traded while playing at Single-A Tampa
$587,400 signing bonus

After a solid career at ASU, Hauver was drafted by the Yankees following a season where he hit .339/.404/695. But he didn't show much power, hitting five homers in his 83 plate appearances.

The Yankees played him more at second base than shortstop, his high school position. He was used in the outfield at ASU. 

Known for having a good eye and taking pitchers deep in counts, Hauver is a candidate to accept plenty of bases on balls. But he doesn't show much power, and his speed is below average.

If the Rangers move Smith from shortstop to second base, it could leave Hauver out in the cold as a career minor league player or as a utility player on the big-league club. Again, his experience in the outfield may help him in a spare part role.

Fantasy Relevance: I don't think he has much future as a fantasy option. PASS

Scouting Grade: 45, at best.

Ezequiel Duran-SS/2B-Age 22-BR-5-11, 185 pounds
International free agent signing out of Dominican Republic in 2017
Traded while playing at High-A Hudson Valley
$10,000 signing bonus

Duran was delayed in signing with the Yankees due to clerical issues, but he eventually made his stateside debut in 2018 at age 19.

Unlike Smith and Hauver, Duran has shown power with a raw hit tool. He has a strong body with the capability of continuing to hit the ball hard and even improve his strength.

Duran's problem is contact. He strikes out far too much in his hunt for home runs. However, if the power continues to play, he will be an asset to the Rangers at either second or short. But like the two other infielders profiled above, Duran has a weak arm that is best suited for second base.

Duran is a power hitter first and foremost. He hunts home runs and will have to be put on some sort of leash to keep him from swinging away and going for the fences in every at-bat.

Fantasy Relevance: I see him gaining steam as he progresses in development. He could be an impact bat with plenty of swings and misses. He might be worth a flyer in another year. CONSIDER

Scouting Grade: 50

Glenn Otto-RHP

Please see my scouting report of Glenn Otto in the July 19 edition of "Bernie on the Scene."

OVERALL TRADE ANALYSIS FOR JOEY GALLO and JOELY RODRIGUEZ

In my opinion, the Rangers were taken to the cleaners. They received none of the Yankees best prospects.

The Rangers loaded up on middle infielders, and none are really sound enough defensively to play shortstop. So they traded for three second basemen.

The Rangers need pitching. Badly. Only Otto was returned in the deal. And frankly, he is a marginal prospect, at best.

Gallo could be impactful on both offense and defense in the Yankees lineup, and Rodriguez will add a strong left arm to the bullpen.

Rangers Grade For The Trade: D

Yankees Grade For The Trade: A

2. The Washington Nationals received these four prospects for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner:

Keibert Ruiz-C-Age 23-Bats Both-6-0, 225 pounds
International free agent out of Venezuela
Playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City at the time of the trade
Received a $140,000 signing bonus at age 16

Ruiz was seen by most analysts as the Dodgers best overall prospect. He is known as a superb contact hitter with an ability to hit for a high average.

He doesn't show the type of power one might think from a player his size, but he does put the barrel of the bat on the ball and can hit the gaps.

For most scouts, Ruiz is a better hitter than a defensive catcher, but his defense is improving markedly. For me, he is well above average behind the plate. While his arm strength is major league average, he does a solid job of calling a game, blocking balls in the dirt and receiving and framing pitches.

It is likely he will eventually be the No. 1 catcher on the Nationals, maybe sooner than later.

Fantasy Relevance: I think if you are looking for a catcher to hit for average, Ruiz will deliver. I also think we'll see more power from him at full maturity. We can't forget that he's still only 23, even though he's been around a while. YES

Scouting Grade: 55

Josiah Gray-RHP-Age 23-6-1, 190 pounds

Drafted by the Reds in the 2nd round in 2018 out of Le Moyne College and traded to the Dodgers along with Jeter Downs and Homer Bailey in 2018 for Kyle Farmer, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and cash.

Pitching for the parent Dodgers at the time of the trade

Gray signed with the Reds for $772,500

A good shortstop and a fine athlete at Le Moyne, the Reds included him in a trade to the Dodgers that landed Kyle Farmer and more. In my opinion, Gray was called into service before he was ready with the Dodgers.

Significant injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May, along with the suspension of Trevor Bauer required the Dodgers to summon Gray before his development was complete. Now, the Dodgers will have Max Scherzer and eventually Danny Duffy to help fill the holes in their rotation.

Gray appeared in two Dodgers games, making one start. He has thrown eight major league innings. One has to wonder if the Nationals will send him back for more seasoning, or let him start in the rotation right off the bat?

Gray's fastball sits at 95, but his range is 92-97, allowing him to change speeds with ease. He also throws an above average slider. His fastball/slider combination is above average, but his changeup and curve are still in need of refinement. In all, Gray has a solid big league repertoire. To me, he has shown good command and control in his development, but he'll have to settle down and reduce the walks we've seen from his early outings with the Dodgers. He has struck out an average of 14.6 hitters per nine innings, but I expect that to drop.

Fantasy Relevance: He would clearly have a better shot to be a winner if he had remained with the Dodgers. However, he's a solid mid-rotation starter on a team like the Nationals with a chance to be good. Much will depend upon how long he can last in games and if the Nationals can score enough to keep from replacing him with a pinch-hitter. YES, WITH REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Scouting Grade: 55

Donovan Casey-OF/RP-Age 25-Bats Right-6-2. 190 pounds
Drafted by the Dodgers in the 20th round in 2017 out of Boston College
Casey was playing at Double-A Tulsa at the time of the trade.
Casey signed for $137,500 with the Dodgers

A two-way player at Boston College, Casey has now been playing the outfield as a professional. But his pitching career still suggests he has a good arm. His velocity reached 94 mph in college.

Casey may be a true sleeper in the deal.

He has some pop in his bat, some speed to steal bases and some upside remaining in his game. However, at age 25, his clock is ticking. 

What Casey lacks is consistent contact and more loft in his swing. When I watched video of him, I found a rather flat swing trajectory that may not be conducive to hitting balls out of the park, seemingly a requirement of the modern outfielder.

Fantasy Relevance: I don't think he'll crack the Nationals starting outfield anytime soon. As a result, he may be best left on the waiver wire for now. MARGINAL

Scouting Grade: 45

Gerardo Carrillo-RHP-Age 22-5-10, 170 pounds
Signed as an international free agent from Mexico 
Playing at Double-A Tulsa at the time of the trade
Carrillo received a $75,000 signing bonus is 2016

Short and rather thin, Carrillo has been used both as a starter and reliever in his professional career.

I saw Carrillo in the 2019 Arizona Fall League when he played for Glendale. He lacked command and control at the time, and his walk rate hurt him. But he was only 20 when he pitched in Arizona. He was well regarded by scouts in Arizona, this scout included.

He is still walking an average of 4.4 hitters per nine innings, which isn't helpful to his cause. He strikes out an average of 10.6 hitters per nine.

Carrillo throws his fastball at 95-99 mph, which is quite accomplishment considering his frame. He also has a very credible, well above average slider, an above average curve and an average changeup. So his repertoire is complete and good enough to dispatch big league hitters as either a starter or reliever.

Carrillo was developed as a starter by the Dodgers, but he may be best used in the back end of a bullpen, and even as a closer.

Fantasy Relevance: There are plenty of big league closers with Carrillo's profile. He is going to a team that now needs his arm in a variety of roles. So his future appears to be bright. I wouldn't hesitate to stash Carrillo in a dynasty league, because I consider him a solid big league target. YES

Scouting Grade: 50

OVERALL TRADE ANALYSIS FOR TRE TURNER AND MAX SCHERZER

Receiving top  prospects from the outstanding Los Angeles Dodgers farm system sounds impressive. It would have been, if it was just for Scherzer. But to include Turner and not get even one major league veteran in the deal is mind boggling to me.

Yes, the prospect haul was good. But they are just that … prospects. Turner and Scherzer are All Star, consequential players. Both will probably get extensions from Los Angeles.

I believe analysis that were crawling all over each other to be first to praise the return of good prospects for two of baseball's best players are ... wrong.

The Nationals' bonfire may have saved money for the Lerner family, but it really didn't make the team better. Isn't that the point of making trades?

Dodgers Grade For The Trade: A+

Nationals Grade For The Trade: C

Next Week: More prospect trade analysis, including players that went to the Cubs in their complete roster facelift.

HEADING HOME - TRADE DEADLINE WEEK

I have experienced trade deadline week for decades.

As a scout, I participated in potential trade evaluations and discussion. I can tell you it is a frenetic, hectic time. Everyone has an opinion. However, the only real opinion rests with the person pulling the trigger.

This trade deadline period was by far the most exciting, consequential and meaningful trade week that I have ever witnessed.

And it was the most problematic. The most troubling. The most upsetting. And not good for baseball.

Watching the Chicago Cubs tear down their roster was sickening to me. Watching Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, Jake Marisnick, Joc Pederson and Trevor Williams be shown the door is beyond unacceptable.

Waiting until the final hours to jettison Baez, Rizzo, Bryant, Kimbrel, Tapera and Marisnick made it even more painful to watch.

Cubs fans deserved better. The team decided it was more prudent to rebuild their organization than pay the going rate for stars like Bryant, Baez and Rizzo. Each will now become a free agent unless the new team pays the piper and extends their current contracts. That could happen. Especially with Baez going to the Mets and Rizzo heading to the Yankees.

For me, the problem should have been addressed years ago. Offers of a one-year extension at a time for each of those guys may just have worked.  Keep adding a year here and a year there. Keep your core players until they are ineffective. Bryant, Baez and Rizzo are still very, very credible baseball players.

The Cubs have only prospects to show for their tenure in Chicago. Prospects my friends, are just that. They are unproven. They are untested. They are inexperienced. They are….prospects. Maybe or….maybe not. Maybe they hit. Maybe they pitch. Maybe they don't. Bryant, Baez and Rizzo….did.

If I'm a Cubs fan I'm sick today. I'm sick about an owner who has let his farm system rot. I'm sick at an owner who hasn't stepped up and paid his stars. 

Yes, I know all about the fact Bryant turned down lots of money to extend. But Bryant felt he was burnt by the Cubs. He filed a grievance and lost. He claimed the Cubs used service time against him, holding him down and costing him free agency a year sooner. Bryant would have never signed back with the Cubs. Then they should have traded him sooner. Not at the 11th hour with a gun to their heads.

Baez and Rizzo would have signed what they would believe to be fair extensions. I believe that. You and I do not know the truth about what, if any, extensions they were offered. We weren't in the room. Nobody I trust has offered the facts.

I can live with trading Kimbrel, Tepera, etc. But the core of the club, three of the guys who helped Mr. Ricketts become a world championship team owner, was dismissed without fanfare. Certainly no public display of affection for the home fans. Instead, on deadline day, in the final hours to be sure, those three consequential Chicago Cubs stars were shown a very unceremonious back door out of Wrigley. Without even a "thanks for a job well done" by their fans.

I'd like to know your thoughts on the Cubs fire sale, but you won't change my mind. Why?

Because It stinks.

Thanks for following me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work at Forbes.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernie Pleskoff
Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
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