Projecting the Prospects of the Trading Deadline (Part 3)

The headlines don’t usually focus on the prospects, but minor leaguers always play a big part in transactions at baseball’s annual trading deadline. Today, I will focus on three minor leaguers involved on July 31 deals.

Each player summary includes projections derived from a technique that considers similar minor leaguers’ development. Check out David Gassko’s roundtable right here at The Hardball Times if you are interested in the art of forecasting player performances. The numbers that follow represent the average expected performance, so you should remember that any player has a 50% chance of outperforming (or underperforming) these particular projections. Additionally, I have listed each players’ 2006 statistics with their previous organization.

Joel Guzman

LA Dodgers to TB Devil Rays | Position: Left Field | DOB: 11/24/1984

2006  AAA .297 .353 .464
2007  MLB .263 .317 .435		
2008  MLB .261 .315 .421
2009  MLB .260 .314 .429

Guzman was the at the center of the Dodgers’ trade for Julio Lugo. Guzman earned a lot of attention after his breakout year as a teenager in the Florida State League a couple years ago, but many people feel that he has been disappointing since then because his power did not develop as expected, he strikes out a lot, and his defense never improved enough to keep him in the infield. The good news is that he is only 21 years old and holding his own against very advanced compeition. His hitting performance at age 21 is not very different from fellow toolsy infielder-turned-outfielder Alfonso Soriano at the same age, so it’s important to recognize that Guzman’s upside is still quite high. A part-time role as an outfielder/DH seems most likely for Guzman, but he’s still young enough to develop 30+ HR power in the major leagues. His biggest challenge is finding a way to get playing time in the Devil Rays’ crowded outfield.

Sergio Pedroza

LA Dodgers to TB Devil Rays | Position: Right Field | DOB: 02/23/1984

2006  AAA .281 .437 .562
2007   AA .245 .359 .453	
2008  AAA .242 .335 .453	
2009  AAA .244 .336 .455

Yet another young outfielder for the Devil Rays. Pedroza was drafted out of Cal State Fullerton last year and has done three things very often this year: walk, strikeout, and hit a home run. His power numbers look exceptional at first glance, but these kinds of performances are not all that uncommon when sluggers with college experience enter the lower minor leagues. We really need to see what he can do against more advanced competition to get a sense of his ceiling. For now, his projection reflects the likely case that he will struggle to stand out from the many slugging corner outfielders and designated hitters in the upper minor leagues.

Zach Ward

Cincinnati Reds to Minnesota Twins | Position: RHP | DOB: 01/14/1984

2006     A 2.29
2007   A+ 2.33
2008  AA 3.50
2009 MLB 4.52

Ward is proficient at inducing groundballs and has been very effective (though a little inconsistent) during the 2006 season. He doesn’t miss enough bats to warant consideration as a future star, but he could be a very useful mid-rotation starting pitcher or middle reliever for the Twins in three or four years. That’s not a bad return for a struggling and expensive pitcher like Kyle Lohse.

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