Last night the Phillies shipped out their best trade piece in Pat Neshek for a trio of prospects. None of the prospects are going to make anyone’s jaw drop (unless it is the name and appearance of J.D. Hammer). When I publish my midseason ranking on Tuesday, none of these prospects will have a number in front of their names. All of that being said, it is a good trade for the Phillies. So who are these three prospects?
The headliner here is infielder Jose Gomez. Gomez is 20 years old and is currently hitting .324/.374/.437 for Asheville (South Atlantic League). Asheville is a noted hitters park, but Gomez is actually hitting better on the road and has a long track record of hitting. He is currently listed as a shortstop, but has played second and third as well this year. Evaluators think that long term his best position is second base because of his range. He has some speed, but not a ton of power. If he can maintain his hit tool through the minors, there is a chance he is a second division regular at second base. More likely his ability to play all over the infield (and theoretically some outfield) give him a likely outcome as a hit first utility player. The Phillies could send him to Lakewood to be part of a 3 man middle infield with Arquimedes Gamboa and Daniel Brito, where all three are given plenty of rest, or they could push him to Clearwater to end the year.
Joining Gomez from Asheville is RHP Alejandro Requena. Requena currently is sporting a 2.85 ERA in 117 innings for the Tourists. He had a crazy hot start to the year (4 GS 26.1 IP 1 ER 6 BB 18 K), but has since settled in as a pretty solid pitcher. He has an average fastball in the 89-93 range and he shows a curveball and changeup that are probably future average. Requena has shown solid control so far this year, and if he can build on that he could be a backend starting pitcher. His lack of an impact pitch does mean he is on the edge, and there are some that see him as more of an org arm. He will probably join a talented Lakewood rotation that now has most of the top pitchers statistically in the South Atlantic League.
The trade finishes out with everyone’s new favorite bespectacled reliever in J.D. Hammer. Hammer was a 24th round pick last year as a college senior starting pitcher with a low 90s fastball and a solid slider. Those guys are fairly common in the low minors. For some it all comes together and they end up as useful major league relievers, for others their lack of command means they stall out in the high minors where throwing 94 just isn’t that special. Hammer has apparently already made some strides this year and is reportedly up to 97 and sitting more in the mid 90s. Some reports indicate the slider is more above average, others say it is more fringy. He only walked 5 batters in 30 low-A innings, but has already racked up 9 in 12 innings in the Cal League. He will need to show that he can consistently throw strikes against batters who won’t chase everything that isn’t straight in order to have further success. If he can harness his control, he could be a middle reliever in a year or two. He likely goes to Clearwater to join the Threshers’ bullpen.
That is a lot of back of a roster ceilings, but it is important to remember that the Phillies were trading a flawed player in a market flush with flawed players. They probably could have gotten a better singular prospect, but by diversifying their return they were able to split the risk as well as keeping their 40 man roster clean (Gomez is Rule 5 eligible and has almost no chance of being selected). Who knows, maybe the Phillies can get some more out of some of these players once they put them in their developmental system.