A team can never have enough pitching depth, a thought-process Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns is clearly well-aware of. On Wednesday, Stearns shipped veteran first baseman Adam Lind to the Seattle Mariners in return for three right-handed starting pitchers who are still in their teenage years.
I guess Stearns wasn’t kidding about making the club younger.
The three new Brewers’ pitchers, Daniel Missaki (19), Carlos Herrera (18) and Freddy Peralta (19) have all shown the ability to rack up high-strikeout rates during their limited time in the minors, meaning their ceilings should be considered relatively high. The only thing better than a young hurler who can strike batters out is three young hurlers who can strike batters out.
Stearns had plenty of nice things to say about the newest members of his squad.
“We are excited to add three young starting pitchers, all under 20 years old, to our minor-league system. All three possess quality arms with an advanced feel for the strike zone.”
Stearns also said the opportunity to acquire three teenage pitchers was “unique” while also admitting there is risk.
Missaki, considered the best arm of the three, has made 24 appearances (20 starts), split between Rookie Ball and Single A, as a professional ballplayer. Over 11 starts in Rookie Ball in 2014, he boasted a 2.76 ERA and an equally impressive 3.14 FIP. But more importantly, he struck out over 26% of hitters faced while only walking 6.8%. His walk rate even improved when he was promoted to Single-A ball this past season.
At 6’0″, Missaki is a bit undersized for a pitcher. He’s also not a blow-it-by-you type of pitcher by any means as his fastball sits 89-91 mph, but he has a solid changeup and curve that he’s able to work in. Does he remind anyone else of Mike Fiers?
Missaki underwent Tommy John surgery this past May, so it might be awhile before we see his arm in action down in the minors next season.
Like Missaki, Carlos Herrera has a fantastic knack for throwing strikes. In his only season as a minor leaguer, Herrera struck out 8.21 batter per nine innings while walking just 1.46 per nine. That turned into a remarkable professional debut season (3.26 ERA and 3.00 FIP). Herrera will enter and finish the 2016 season as an 18 year old, so there’s still plenty of time to grow as a player and improve his pitches.
After an excellent rookie season in the minors in 2013 and a disappointing season in 2014, Freddy Peralta was absolutely dominant this past season. He made 11 appearances (9 starts) and posted a 10.58 K/9 and 1.26 BB/9, equaling a 25.3% K-BB%, which is a great tool to use when projecting a player’s future.
Peralta can get up to 94 MPH, and as former FanGraphs’ prospect writer Kiley McDaniel wrote, has “a clean arm action and delivery with a chance to start.”
To sum up, the Brewers are now in possession of three young and talented arms, and the price for them was relatively low in Adam Lind. At 32 years and expensive, Lind was never going to be a part of Stearns’ vision for the team. Almost everyone in baseball, including Lind, knew he was going to be traded sometime this offseason. The Brewers will, however, miss his ability to get on base and play above-average defense at first.
While I like the talent the Brewers acquired, I was expecting them to land a third baseman, which is still a glaring hole on Milwaukee’s roster. Mariners’ third base prospect D.J. Peterson‘s name was thrown around for a few days leading up to the trade, but Seattle may not have wanted to pay such a high price for a one-year rental.
The Brewers acquired three pitchers who could have bright futures, but we must be aware of the fact that there’s a ton of risk involved. These are, for the most part, unknown and unproven prospects with small sample sizes. But nonetheless, this was a good trade for Milwaukee.