As you no doubt have heard by now, the Padres traded Mat Latos to the Reds on Saturday for a four-player package. Doug Gray of RedsMinorLeagues.com was kind enough to answer a few questions from the Reds’ perspective.
What was your first reaction to hearing the final trade package?
My first reaction was a little different from my overall reaction, but at the end of the day I liked the deal for the Reds. My first reaction was that I am a huge fan of Latos, but that was a decent chunk of talent. My final reaction was similar. I think that both teams did well.
If another team were to have traded all of those pieces, I would say that they made a mistake even though Latos is a borderline ace-caliber pitcher today. But the Reds have the depth to make up for the guys they moved with their first base, catcher and left field options. Assuming that Latos can stay healthy and perform similar to what everyone thinks he is capable of, I think both teams can look back at this trade in 5-6 years and be very happy with it.
In your mind, who is the best prospect the Padres are receiving in return?
I have Grandal ranked slightly ahead of Alonso. Essentially it comes down to position. I think Yonder Alonso is clearly the better hitter of the two guys (which of course he should be, since he is a first baseman). Alonso is a safer bet as well, but Grandal could be an above-average hitting catcher who will not hurt you much defensively. Guys who can do that are a lot more rare than good hitting first baseman.
How does Yasmani Grandal compare to other top catching prospects in the game? Do you have any questions about his defense/receiving skills?
Grandal is probably one of the Top 5 catching prospects in the game. I don’t think he compares with the top two guys in the Reds’ Devin Mesoraco or Travis d’Arnaud of the Blue Jays. Both of those guys are going to be Top 25 prospects in baseball when the big places start coming out with their Top 100 lists though, so it isn’t a slight on Grandal who I imagine would at worst be inside all of the Top 75′s, if not Top 50′s.
There have been some slight concerns with his defense. If you look at his overall numbers from 2011, he had a lot of passed balls. With that said, the staff he had in Bakersfield (A+) was notoriously wild and he had a lot fewer passed balls in Carolina (AA). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see him catch in person this year as when I made my trip to Carolina this season he was out with a concussion. I was able to watch him on Milb.tv several times though with Carolina. He has an average to slightly above-average throwing arm and had good footwork with his throws. Scouting reports that I got on him did suggest that he was likely to be just an average receiver though. Still, that means he is incredibly likely to remain at the position.
Alonso was blocked somewhat by Joey Votto in Cincinnati. Do you think that he can be an above average first baseman?
Let me preface this by saying that I am probably higher on Alonso than most. I see him as a Top 50 prospect in baseball, where as Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospects doesn’t and Baseball America may not either if I am reading them correctly. Still, he has a very professional plate approach and he has solid power to all fields. Playing in Petco Park may put a damper on that some as I am sure all of you guys know by now.
I have long held the belief that he is a .300/.400/.500 type of hitter, with room for growth in that SLG line, but with the move to Petco that may drop some. Still, he has the tools and ability to be an above-average first baseman offensively and is probably just an average defender. I do want to make note though that simply looking at his minor league stats, particularly in regards to his power, is very misleading as to his potential. The year around his broken Hamate bone (most of his time spent in AA and part of AAA in 2010) really tore down his power numbers. He slugged well over .500 in his time in AAA once he got past the typical one year recovery mark.
Brad Boxberger has both starting and relieving experience, what role do you see him settling into moving forward?
I was never a fan of moving him into the reliever role, at least not at the point which the Reds chose. In 2010, he was very strong as a starter, then got beat up badly as a reliever. He noted this year that he simply wasn’t able to mentally adjust to the bullpen in 2010 after starting, but clearly he made that adjustment this year.
It wouldn’t surprise me if someone tried to get him back to starting, but there are some issues there still. While he has enough quality pitches to do so, one concern with him since his days in college is his stamina, both in terms of how long his stuff carries through games as well as how deep he can go into games. Starters, even average ones, are much more valuable than relievers though, so giving him a chance to see if he can start would be beneficial if there is no rush to get him into a Major League bullpen.
I haven’t seen anyone besides Jim Bowden mention anything about Boxberger being a starter since the trade, though I have been reading more about the Reds side of the deal than the Padres, so I could have missed something on that front too. If he remains in the bullpen, I think he has the stuff to at least be a strong set up man. I have had the belief that he could close, though I know there are a lot of opinions on that ranging from “no way” to “if he gets better control, his stuff could work.”
Had the Reds given up on Edinson Volquez?
This is one that I really wish I had better insight on. I can’t say that they had, but at the very least I think they had given up on the idea of him being reliable in terms of throwing him out there every five days. He had some maturity issues when he was with Texas, but I don’t think that came into play when the Reds chose to trade him. I think that he was simply just – at best – fifth on their starter depth chart heading into the spring, and, while he most certainly has an impressive arm, they were acquiring an arm that was better. That pushed Volquez’s value down so losing him wasn’t much of an issue.