The Royals exercised a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight, dealing Jon Jay for a pair of minor league pitchers, Gabe Speier and Elvis Luciano.
The prospect that we are more likely to see the soonest is left-handed reliever Speier, currently at Double-A Jackson.
Via 2080 Baseball – Not a guy with real big stuff, Speier has a pitch-to-contact profile who will get some swing and miss, but more relies on efficiency and high ground ball rates. As he has climbed, he has done a very good job adjusting to the level and maintaining the production, a 2.18 GO:AO ratio across four levels in 2016.
Despite that report, it seems Speier has started to take the next step in his development, creating groundballs at a higher rate than before (60.5%); while he hasn’t fixed the walk rate yet, he’s started to get more strikeouts. The upside here is a groundball inducing LOOGY.
The prospect that made this deal happen is right along the lines of what the Royals have signed on their own in the past in international signee Luciano. Signed for just $85k in 2016, this 18-year-old is already exhibiting a feel for multiple pitches from his lean 6’2 184 lbs frame. The right-hander is up to 95 mph with his fastball, while getting downward movement with the pitch that settles in the mid-90’s. In addition to the fastball, he has a feel for the changeup and curveball with the change ahead at the current time. The body looks strong in the upper half and should be able to add some muscle in the lower half, meaning it’s very likely he’ll be able to stick as a starter should he refine the breaking ball further.
There is some upside here reminiscent of recently acquired Yefri Del Rosario, the prospect the Royals acquired after the Braves were forced to let him become a free agent, but Luciano may have a better feel for pitching. His thicker frame likely means he has a better opportunity to stay in the rotation longterm in comparison to Del Rosario. This right-hander could be ready to show his stuff at Low-A Lexington rather soon with the ceiling of a middle of the rotation starter.
Analysis – This is a nice return for the Royals in exchange for Jay, a limited player with limited upside and fringe centerfielder. Getting back an upside starter who likely fits among their Top 25-30 prospects and a fringy LOOGY is the best possible return they could have hoped for.
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