Arms on the move, part two

Part one took us through the Marlins. Today we hit the second half of the alphabet.

First, a little more on the Diamondbacks’ take in the Dan Haren trade. There was another player involved, but he wasn’t officially listed on the transaction. The Player to Be Named Later had already been named. Due to a technicality he can not join the Diamondbacks organization.

I never knew about this rule, but you have to be in pro ball for one year before your rights can be traded. According to theTyler Skaggs will be a D-backs prospect as of Saturday. So, we should consider him part of the deadline movers, even if he’s technically with the Angels as I write this.

Skaggs is one of the top prospects involved in the non-waiver deadline trades. Ben Carsley of NESN ranks him fourth of the group and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo slots Skaggs in at No. 7. His stat line supports the rankings. He just turned 19 and was already a starter in the Midwest League before his birthday.

In fewer than 100 professional innings, Skaggs is striking out about one batter per inning while walking around two per nine. His batted ball profile is unsettled, with an unusually high number of line drives. We’ll probably see those spread out into ground balls more than fly balls, as he has managed to produce an average-to-above-average number of ground balls with below average tallies of fly balls and pop-ups. He’s a tall, skinny left hander with more velocity coming, so what’s not to like?

Okay, where were we?

Nationals
Tanner Roark (Rangers)
Ryan Tatusko (Rangers)
Joe Testa (Twins)

A native of Illinois and product of the University of Illinois, Roark has seen his strikeout and walk rates drop in 2010. After spending a bit of time in Double-A in 2009, the 24-year-old right hander started this season there. He’s a big kid, can get up to 93 mph with his fastball, and added a sinker to his circle-change, slider and curve. He has spent time in the bullpen but seems settled in the rotation. For now, most project him as a reliever thanks to secondary stuff that doesn’t stand up to the quality of his fastball.

Tatusko is a contact pitcher with only a decently above average ground ball rate. He’s a starter and sometime reliever, the latter as a second starter based on his inning totals. The tall right hander throws in the lower 90s with cut. Now 25, he has spent each season at one level, advancing from the Northwest League in 2007 to the Texas League in 2010. The Nats are keeping him in Double-A—along with Roark—in the Eastern League.

Testa made it to the Eastern League in his third pro season after debuting in the Gulf Coast League in 2008. He’s small—just 5 foot 10—but left handed. He seems to produce nothing but strikeouts, walks and line drives. The Nats sent him to Advanced-A, where he’ll continue to work in relief.

Orioles
Wynn Pelzer (Padres)
Rick Vanden Hurk (Marlins)

A college closer turned starter who is now back in relief, Pelzer is a groundball pitcher who lost a bit of that trait this year. He still collects some strikeouts but has ongoing control issues. Pelzer is a 24-year-old right hander who is about average size for a professional pitcher. He sounds a little bit like Carlos Marmol, possessing an excellent slider and a low-90s fastball that sinks.

Vanden Hurk is a 6-foot-5 right hander from the Netherlands. He made 32 starts for the Marlins between 2007 and 2009, but just two relief appearances in 2010. He is a flyball pitcher with below average control but strikes out enough hitters to make up for it. He also maintains a great pop-up rate. Vanden Hurk throws hard, averaging around 95 with his fastball, and throws a slider (86), a change-up (86) and a curveball (73).

Phillies
Roy Oswalt (Astros)

Oswalt struggled while his bulldozer was getting a paint job. The long-time Astro ace still throws his four- and two-seam fastballs 94, and can still make you miss on his change-up (84), slider (85) or one of his two curveballs—there’s a 65 mph version and a 75 mph version. He’s not as much of a groundball pitcher as he had been, but he still has great stuff and control.

Pirates
Joe Martinez (Giants)
James McDonald (Dodgers)

I usually associate Martinez with the line drive he took off his head last year. It’s probably better to think of him as a solid groundball pitcher who doesn’t walk many batters. His strikeout rates aren’t bad—they rise to average level when you include his minor league numbers—but he’s not going to dominate big leaguers. Mostly relying on a sinker (90), Martinez also throws a curveball that may be a slider (80) a slow change-up (78) and a four-seam fastball (91). He’s in Triple-A Indianapolis at the moment.

McDonald is a very different pitcher from Martinez. At 25, he’s two years younger than Martinez and stands 6 foot 5—three inches above Martinez. He’s not just bigger and younger, he’s also a flyball pitcher who strikes out plenty, while walking a few too many. He’s already landed in the Pittsburgh rotation. While both pitchers throw a lot of two-seamers, McDonald’s is more of a tailing fastball (92). McDonald throws more four-seamers (92), a slider (80), a change-up (81) and a big, slow curveball (75).

Rangers
Roman Mendez (Red Sox)

Mendez was part of the package sent from Boston for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Control has been a bit of an issue as he’s moved to full-season ball, but he’s just turned 20 and has a very live right arm. He’s looking like a bit of a flyball pitcher, but he’s yet to develop a sinker or a cutter, according to SoxProspects.com, which has the following rundown of his repertoire:

…fastball sits between 94-96 mph and tops out at 99 mph with late hop, but comes in relatively straight…has a tight-breaking 82-85 mph slider with plus potential…88-91 change-up…throws from a high 3/4 arm slot

Sounds like someone who could readily develop into a tough relief pitcher, at least. Did the Red Sox give up too much for Salty?

Rays
Chad Qualls (Diamondbacks)

This particular acquisition raised the collective hackles of the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Qualls is a low-slinging sinker/slider (93 and 87 mph, respectively) guy who—despite a dropoff in 2010—is a serious ground ball pitcher. He may throw some four-seam fastballs—which sink and tail anyway courtesy of his arm angle—and once in a while he mixes in a change-up (84). And sometimes I really want to call his slider a cutter.

Qualls doesn’t walk many batters, but his strikeout rate has gone down and down the past couple years. We talked about Qualls a little bit over at THT Live, and checking that out may make you feel a bit better about his bloated ERA. Or not.

Red Sox
Daniel Turpen (Giants)

Yet another groundball pitcher with a low strikeout rate, Turpen limits his walks enough to have an above-average K:BB ratio. A relief pitcher but not a regular closer, the big right hander from Oregon has seen a little time at Triple-A but has spent all of 2010 in Double-A. He throws a sinker, a change-up and a slider, working in the low-to mid-90s according to SoxProspects.com.

Royals
Jesse Chavez (Braves)
Tim Collins (Braves)
Elisaul Pimentel (Dodgers)

Chavez, now has service time with three big league clubs, was drafted but did not sign with a fourth (Cubs), and re-drafted and signed by a fifth (Rangers). Since he’s almost 27, it’s hard to consider him a prospect anymore. It’s getting close to journeyman status. With a 95 mph fastball and an ability to throw strikes, he’ll continue to hang around. On the flip side, he’s a flyball pitcher who doesn’t strike out many. He throws 60 percent fastballs plus a few two-seamers, mixing in change-ups (87), some type of slutter (90) and even a few curveballs (77).

Twenty years old, Collins is a strikeout machine. He’s put down 13.5 batters per nine innings in his minor league career. Sure, that’s come with a lot of walks but he’s a 5-foot-7 lefty, and you don’t see that every day. Greg Schaum says Collins may be even shorter, but still throws 93 and has a good curveball. What I keep hearing are comparisons to Billy Wagner. That’s a tall order, no pun intended.

Collins spent just a couple weeks as a Brave, having come over from Toronto in their exchange of shortstops. Even if Collins had been in the majors, Kyle Farnsworth would not be making use of his old uniforms.

I’m out of Collins jokes, so let’s move on to Pimentel. This right-handed prospect came out of the Dodgers’ Dominican academy. He just turned 22 and is a career starter. He’s now in the Single-A Midwest League, which is just about right for his age. He stays put in the Midwest, just swapping uniforms. Generally low on strikeouts and walks, he’s a bit high on both this season—more so with the strikeouts, thankfully. His batted ball profile is pretty flat or from a dubiously small sample, so there aren’t many leaves in the tea cup. He’s a power arm who could thrive if his walk rate ebbs.

Twins
Matt Capps (Nationals)

The new Minnesota closer has an improved ground ball rate, in some part due to an increased reliance on a two-seam tailing fastball (95). Despite a power arsenal that also includes a four-seam heater (95), a hard change (88) and a slider (86), Capps is not a big strikeout guy, especially for a late-inning reliever. He doesn’t walk many batters, so he still fits in the role. Given a shot at setting up for Marmol on the Cubs, Capps opted for Washington so he could close games. Now he’s closing games and in a division race, something that was not an apparent option for him this past offseason.

White Sox
Edwin Jackson (Diamondbacks)

One of the enigmas of major league baseball, Jackson ended up in Chicago as the deadline passed. I say “ended up” because it first appeared he’d be bounced to Washington for Adam Dunn. That never happened and the White Sox have a fifth starter they preferred to Daniel Hudson (see part one). Jackson’s no-hitter was a microcosm of his career—swing-and-miss stuff with shaky control.

Oddly, Jackson’s strikeout rate is just average and his walk rate worse than average. On the bright side, he’s getting more ground balls in 2010 than any of the past few years. Jackson averages 95 with his fastball, and we know he can sustain that late into games. The hard fastball matches up with a power slider (86), some sinking two-seam fastballs (94), change-ups (86) and even some curveballs (81). He’s no Jake Peavy, but if he’s really the fifth guy for Ozzie’s bunch, that’s not a bad thing at all.

Yankees
Kerry Wood (Indians)

This is my favorite one of the bunch, and a nice way to end. Thanks, alphabet!

I’ll always like Wood, so his chance to experience a Yankees postseason is odd but pleasant music to my ears. Woody still throws hard, with his 96 mph four-seam fastball and power cutter (91). His curveball (80) is still impressive but not as fast as what we saw in his prime. As always, walks are his weakness and those wild innings have been plentiful since he signed with the Indians.

I recall an interview with Wood and his wife in which she was (too) open about how Cleveland was not a great place to play due to the lack of fans and energy. Hopefully Sarah’s words ring true and her husband pitches his best as a Yankee.

References & Resources
PITCHf/x data from Sportvision and MLBAM, related pitch classifications by the author. Batted ball data from MLBAM. The scout.com network of sites was leaned upon heavily for information on prospects. Transactions from MLB.com.

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