Yesterday, within an hour of when the news broke on the Mets-Twins agreement for the trade involving Johan Santana, I wrote:
To me, this would be as if the Yankees traded Ian Kennedy, Jose Tabata, Alan Horne, and Dellin Betances for Johan Santana.
To be candid, when I wrote that, I did not spend a lot of time doing heavy analysis in coming up with that suggested Yankees package. I probably spent 30 seconds noodling it and basically was pulling names from some corner of my mind. In any event, what I wrote rankled many who made comments to that suggestion – as well as some others outside of this blog.
Yeah, I know, stupid of me to dare compare Yankees prospects (who are all wunderkind and Über-valuable) to prospects from an organization other than the Yankees (who, being non-Yankees prospects, are all therefore just minor league filler). Stupid, stupid, stoooop-id!
In any event, since it’s done, I’ve decided to take a deeper look into who the Mets gave up (to the Twins) and compare that to my suggestion of a comparable Yankees package – using an independent source for information – just to see how wacky my off-the-cuff idea was in retrospect. To that end, I’m going to use the most recent scouting profiles from Baseball America on each player. Here goes:
Carlos Gomez – Mets: A true five-tool athlete, Gomez has game-changing speed and a well above-average arm, tools that help make him a premium defender in center field. He also has excellent bat speed that leads to projections of at least average power, if not more. Scouts said Gomez brought needed energy to the Mets. Hitting will be the last tool to develop for Gomez. He’s still searching for the balance between aggressiveness and plate discipline. While he showed increased patience in 2007, it came at the expense of his power production.
Jose Tabata – Yankees: Despite his injury, Tabata was one of the high Class A Florida State League’s top hitters, and he has a natural knack for making consistent hard contact. His wrist problem sapped some of his power, but scouts still project Tabata to have at least average pop, and some even see him more as a slugger than hitter. While he flashes plus speed, he projects as an average runner and right fielder with a solid average arm. Tabata’s offensive future still involves some projection, and there’s some concern his thickening body could lose some athleticism, rendering him more one-dimensional. Scouts outside the organization chide him for failing to give a consistent effort.
Sounds like they both have potential – but both are projection cases. Tabata, three years younger, has yet to play above A-ball – whereas Gomez has already done pretty good in Triple-A. How anyone can say, with confidence, that one of these two will be a star, for sure, in the majors, is beyond me. Therefore, since both are more promise than certainty, I would rate these two pretty close to being the same.
Deolis Guerra – Mets: Guerra has two present above-average pitches that could become well above-average. His fastball had below-average velocity for most of his first season, but now it ranges from 89-94 mph and touches 96. He features excellent arm speed on his changeup, his best offering since he signed, and it should become a big league out pitch once he commands it. While Guerra’s curveball remains a below-average pitch, he has shown an ability to spin the ball and it projects as an average offering. At 18, Guerra still is learning the finer arts of pitching, such as holding runners, fielding his position and pitch sequences.
Dellin Betances – Yankees: Betances’ stuff is as good as anyone’s in the system. His fastball sits at 93-94 mph and touched 98 in the club’s fall minicamp. He uses a low-80s power curveball as an out pitch. His changeup has made significant strides in his short pro career and grades as a future plus pitch with sinking, diving action. He’s athletic and intelligent, and adapted quickly to the mechanical adjustments New York asked him to make. While he’s shown some feel for his changeup, Betances needs to throw it more to master it. At his size, he’ll have to work to keep his mechanics in sync and maintain balance over the rubber. At times, he rushes his delivery, making it hard for his arm to keep up with his body and costing him command. [Note, this report is a year old.]
Betances is a year older than Guerra. Both are big kids who throw hard and who need better command of their breaking pitches. Neither one has shown anything over A-Ball. Again, since both are more promise than certainty, I would rate these two pretty close to being the same.
Two down, two to go, and so far, it’s looking fairly even.
Kevin Mulvey – Mets: Mulvey throws four pitches for strikes and keeps everything down. His fastball, which sits at 87-91 mph and touches 94, features good sink and run. He dominated righthanders, limiting them to a .224 average and no homers. His mid-70s curveball with 11-to-5 break and his low-80s slider both are average pitches, and at times his slider is a put-away offering. His changeup shows signs of being average. His competitiveness makes his whole greater than the sum of his parts. Mulvey has trouble against lefthanders because he can’t work them inside easily. At times his changeup is too firm. He has lost 2-3 mph off his fastball from his days at Villanova, but he could gain some of that back as he gets accustomed to the pro workload.
Alan Horne – Yankees: At times, Horne shows four above-average pitches, starting with a fastball that usually sits at 92-93 mph but also can park at 94-95. He flashes a power slider and curveball, and he throws his changeup with good arm speed. Horne’s arm action is long, leading to inconsistent release points and below-average command, and it likely contributed to his past elbow injury. The Yankees have shortened his delivery in other ways to compensate, but it’s not a correctable flaw and limits Horne’s ceiling. He doesn’t field his position or hold runners particularly well.
Both of these pitchers have proven themselves in Double-A. In a perfect world, they both learn some more in Triple-A this season. Mulvey is two years younger than Horne. Both throw in the low 90′s and top out at 94 MPH. Horne has some issues with command and Mulvey has some issues getting the ball inside to lefties. Both held Double-A batters to a .250 average last season. They seem like the same prospect to me.
Three down, one to go, and, it’s still looking fairly even.
Philip Humber – Mets: Humber still has the best curveball in the organization, and he has learned to shorten it up a bit and throw it for quality strikes. He’s learning to spot his fastball better down in the zone, where it has more life. His changeup, which he has used since junking the splitter he had in college, has developed into an average pitch. At times Humber still tries to pitch up in the strike zone, and he doesn’t have that kind of velocity anymore. His fastball ranges from 87-91 mph after he used to touch 94-95 at Rice. He’s still refining his command two years after his elbow reconstruction. Humber is likely ready for on-the-job training in the majors, but he’ll have to earn the spot in spring training. He now projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Ian Kennedy – Yankees: Kennedy has mound presence and moxie to go with above-average major league command, and that helps all his pitches play up. His 88-92 mph fastball, his curveball and his slider all are average pitches. His plus changeup is his best offering, featuring late fade. He repeats his compact delivery. With only one above-average pitch, Kennedy has to hit his spots, but he usually does. At times his curve is too slow, dipping to 69-72 mph, and lacks sharpness. Compared to Mike Mussina because of his similar stretch delivery, Kennedy has less pure stuff than Mussina once did. Kennedy fits a No. 3 or No. 4 starter profile and should fulfill such a role in 2008.
Kennedy is two years younger than Humber. Both of these pitchers throw in the high ’80′s to very low ’90′s and need to spot their fastballs – and spot them well. Humber’s weapon is s good curveball and Kennedy’s weapon is a good change. Humber “projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter” and Kennedy “fits a No. 3 or No. 4 starter profile.” Gee, is it just me, or, based on these reports, do these two hurlers sort of grade out the same, too?
Do I (?) dare say: Four down, none to go, and, on the whole, it looks even between what the Mets gave up and what I quickly suggested.
But, then again, this is based on scouting reports from Baseball America – who complies their information from talking to scouts and other members of baseball front offices (and the like). And, those people don’t realize the dynamic behind the principle that dictates “All Yankees prospects are future stars in the making whereas prospects from other teams are all hyped wannabes and failures in waiting.”
It’s too bad. If only these reports would say what many Yankees fans want to hear. It would make so many people feel better now.
In the meantime, in retrospect, and finally doing some research, I’m feeling a little better about my ability to think on the fly and pull things out of the back of my brain – at least when it comes to something Yankees-related.