I’ve never quite understood the allure some dynasty owners have with holding on to aging stars when their team is clearly in need of a full rebuild. This is even more true when those veterans are having great years, and the opportunity to maximize their value is at its peak. With a little less than a month remaining before most league trading deadlines, it’s time to cash in those trade chips and look toward the future. Here are a few names to target with the deadline quickly approaching:
The Red Sox made a bold move over the weekend by promoting second baseman Mookie Betts, and promptly inserting him in center field after limited seasoning at the position. Offensively, Betts proved he was more than ready for the majors, hitting a blistering .345 with eight homers and 48 RBI across two levels. The cherry on top is the 29 steals he’s accumulated, which only adds to his tantalizing offensive profile. Betts is a hitter that shows an advanced understanding of the strike zone, and a very contact oriented approach. Don’t let his small frame fool you though (5-foot-9, 155 pounds), there is some pop in his bat (15 HR in ’13), making him much more than your typical rabbit. This is a stock worth owning for the long haul, as he could hit atop the Red Sox lineup for years to come.
The Astros are also shaking things up a bit, calling up top outfield prospect Domingo Santana to give them a bit more offensive punch. Santana is slashing .304/.383/.502 at Triple-A Oklahoma City, with 13 home runs and 52 RBI. Santana has 25-30 home run potential, but has a propensity for whiffs (27.6 K%), a problem that should suppress his average in the majors. Still, this is a power bat worth checking out, especially if you’re in rebuild mode. He’s the perfect trade target if you’re trying to unload a resurgent veteran who is on the downslope of his career.
One of the fastest rising prospects this year has been Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor, who finally turned his immense tools into production at Double-A Harrisburg this year. The breakout is headlined by a .324/18/53 line, and when you add in his 22 steals, the package looks extremely appealing. Much like Santana, Taylor is a bit of a free swinger who will have his share of strikeouts (30.1 K%), but with tools this loud, he’s worth gambling on with the hope that he’ll eventually refine his approach and gain better control of the strike zone. He’s flown past fellow prospect Brian Goodwin on the organizational depth chart, and could prove to be major league ready by the middle of 2015. Scouts also call give Taylor’s centerfield glove their highest grade (80).
Staying in Washington, if you’re looking for a great young arm to invest in, be sure to make righty Lucas Giolito a target in any trade you’re looking to make. Now almost two full years removed from Tommy John surgery, he’s dominating Single-A hitters (54.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, 61/21 K/BB), earning a trip to this year’s Futures Game in the process. Giolito has two plus-plus pitches in his fastball and curveball, and is making strides with a changeup that flashes above average potential. He very well could be the best pitching prospect currently in the minors.
Another young righty with tons of upside is the Orioles’ Hunter Harvey, who much like Giolito, is carving up Single-A hitters (71.2 IP, 3.14 ERA, 85/29 K/BB). His arsenal features an explosive mid-90s fastball, a plus curveball, and a developing changeup that is progressing with each start. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him inside the top 25 of midseason prospect lists once updates are released, so target him before novice owners wise up to his elevated prospect status once the midseason updates are released.
The Red Sox have to be extremely pleased with the progress of lefty Henry Owens, who has shown even more dominance in his third pro season. In his first full year at Double-A, Owens has been outstanding (92 IP, 2.25 ERA, 95/37 K/BB), making strides with his control, an area of weakness for the young hurler. Owens works in the low-90s with his fastball, but can touch the mid-90s when he reaches back for a little more. His changeup is excellent, as is his curveball when it’s on. Owens has the potential to be an ace if he continues to make progress with his command.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rsteingall