Street Smarts, Not Book Smarts

In an effort to put out the dumpster fire that is the Angels bullpen, general manager Jerry Dipoto parted with the future, shipping out four of his top five prospects to San Diego in exchange for Padres closer Huston Street and reliever prospect Trevor Gott.

Angels Got(t) Street

The Angels have been mixing-and-matching all season with their bullpen options, much to no avail. As a result, Anaheim’s bullpen ranks 25th among clubs in fWAR, but more importantly are severely behind in the arms race in comparison to divisional contenders Oakland and Seattle, who both boast strong bullpens with a shutdown reliever or two.

Anaheim acquires a pretty fresh arm, as Street hasn’t been used much in recent years due to the managerial tendencies of his former team, essentially only pitching in save-situations (80 saves in 128 2/3 innings) — and there haven’t been many.

The 30-year-old Street shows the rare three-pitch reliever mix, but pitches with a below-average fastball that only clocks in at 89 mph. It won’t be much of an issue, as he shows plus-plus fastball command and Angel Stadium welcomes fly ball prone pitchers (see: Jered Weaver).

However, Street likely won’t be able to sustain the level of success he has this season in which he is posting a 1.06 ERA. The 30-year-old’s strand rate rounds to 100% since the start of 2013. Sooner or later, someone is going to come around and score.

I’m assuming the Angels will exercise Street’s $7 million team option for 2015, helping justify some, but not all, of the hefty exchange fee.

The second and final player heading to Anaheim is Trevor Gott, a 6th round selection in the 2013 draft. If I had the choice between the five traded prospects, I would place Gott the lowest on my preference list. He’s a pure reliever prospect without a second pitch. The fastball plane is inconsistent, as he is listed at 6′ but appears to be shorter than that by an inch or two. But he has an electric arm and can light up the radar gun, routinely clocking in anywhere from 94-96 mph. I saw the breaker as a slurve, as he would get on the side of it and hammer it into the dirt without much control. This is likely a 7th inning arm.

San Diego’s Prospect Quartet

The Padres acquire four legitimate prospects, though none of the can’t-miss variety, in the following: Taylor Lindsay, R.J. Alvarez, Jose Rondon, and Elliot Morris.

Lindsay is the only prospect of the five I haven’t seen, so I’ll start with him. We ranked him as the top prospect in the Angels’ system entering the year on Baseball Prospectus, which speaks more to the lack of quality in the system than Lindsay. He’s a solid prospect that shows a plus hit tool, but there is nothing else there that projects to solid-average or 50 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He’s going to need to hit to provide value, and should get his first chance at doing so this year.

Alvarez is a pure reliever prospect that works in the mid-90s with a slider that flashes video game movement. The numbers have matched the stuff so far this year, as the 23-year-old is shutting down lineups while improving his walk rate in Double-A. Unlike Gott, he could profile in the backend of a major league bullpen, and could even see time in San Diego this season.

Rondon isn’t a cant-miss prospect, as none of the tools project to be of the impact variety. However, one could argue he was the best prospect in Anaheim’s system. The 20-year-old is a smooth shortstop that projects to stick at the position. He has a chance to hit for a .280 to .289 average, or a 60 on the 20-80 on scouting scale. However, he’s a small frame guy without much room to add strength, giving him just 30 raw power potential. The arm can get a little soft and he isn’t a burner on the bases.

Morris is the sleeper prospect in this trade, but could become a walking giant, as he was popping up on target lists this year. He’s a well built righty with No. 3 starter upside if he can put everything together, otherwise a setup reliever. Given the lack of upside in the system, I would have ranked him as Anaheim’s top prospect. Morris was a high school senior with quality stuff, but went undrafted. He then underwent Tommy John Surgery while attending junior college, so his experience is similar to that of a high school arm. In regards to the talent, Morris shows a quick arm, but he can have trouble repeating his delivery, specifically with his upper torso and front shoulder. As a starter, he can comfortably work his fastball at 95-96 mph with a slider that flashes plus. The changeup and command needs improvement, but you can say that about everyone with his experience level. I believe the command could get to fringe-average if he tones down his fastball velocity a tick or two. The makeup is impressive and his fastball is rarely put into play, let alone squared up, even at 92-94. I’m a big fan of his upside, and give him a shot to start.

Conclusion

Whoever pulled this trade off for the GM-less Padres is off to a great start, robbing the Angels of four quality prospects in exchange for a reliever and throw in reliever prospect.

Angels fans won’t need to fret over the traded prospects if the team can bring the World Series trophy back to Anaheim. But if not, this is a vast overpay that Dipoto will be unable to justify, weakening one of the worst farm systems in a shortsighted move.

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