The Philadelphia Phillies have been coming up dry for months digging test wells throughout the United States and probably Ontario, Canada as well. Last night they finally struck oil. And it was a gusher. Appropriately, the discovery was in Texas- a state where the oil flows.
And as quickly as I can write the words “the Phillies are relevant once again” the Phillies became relevant once again. It probably took a great deal of time to cobble the deal together, but after the deal was announced, the team immediately returned to the conversation regarding baseball teams that are on the upswing. It happened that quickly. They are once again a meaningful franchise.
THE TEXAS RANGERS GET: Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman as well as Cash.
Cole Hamels is coming off a masterful no-hitter against the Cubs. He’s an ace with time left on his contract. He has pitched in hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, making the transition to the hitter-friendly Globe Life Park more palatable. He’s 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. Hamels is 31. And of course, he’s left handed. He stabilizes the Rangers rotation and adds depth and quality to their club.
Jake Diekman is a 28 and is also left-handed. He isn’t quite Aroldis Chapman, but he brings his fastball at 98 mph out of the bullpen. He’s hittable and still has some refinement left in his command and control. He misses lots of bats, but he walks too many batters. Diekman is more than just another arm. He’s a power arm.
THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES GET: C Jorge Alfaro, OF Nick Williams, P Jared Eickhoff, P Alec Asher, P Jake Thompson, P Matt Harrison and a partridge in a pear tree.
Christmas in July for the Phillies. I don’t know which front office people did the prospecting in this discovery, but they did a fantastic job.
Alfaro is a hitter-first catcher with tremendous upside. He’s recovering now from an ankle injury. Sitting only behind the Cubs Kyle Schwarber as the best overall prospect catcher in baseball, Alfaro could be a huge part of the Phillies future. He’s 6-foot-2 and 225 very strong pounds. I see him eventually as a perennial All Star. When I saw him a couple seasons ago in the Arizona Fall League he stood out as a “can’t miss” stud. He’s an exciting player to watch hit. And he’ll be outstanding in that park.
Williams is an exciting, dynamic outfielder. When I saw him he could punish pitches in one at-bat and then look awful in another. He’ll turn 22 in September. At 6-foot-3 and a slender 195 pounds, he has power and speed and makes things happen. And yes, he is prone to strike out. But his upside is outstanding and he, too, could be an All Star. His natural talent is off the charts and it will come to fruition at some point in the next couple of years.
Eickhoff is right-handed, is 25 and is 6-foot-4, 240 pounds. He throws a very solid fastball/curveball combination among a four pitch mix that includes a slider and change up. The resource I spoke with last night called Eickhoff a real “sleeper” in the deal. Right now he’s 9-4 at Triple-A Round Rock. He’s a great arm to develop for the Phils.
Asher is a right-hander similar in stature to Eickhoff. He is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. He has an outstanding slider as his main offering. He’s also at Round Rock where he’s got a 3-6 record as a starter. He’s had some issues with home runs in his career.
Thompson is another right-hander with a physical frame of….you guessed it, 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds. He came from the Tigers in a trade and is now pitching in Double-A for Frisco. His best pitch is also a slider, but like the other pitching prospects he has a full arsenal including a fastball, curve and changeup. He, too, has to refine his command and control.
Harrison is a …here’s a shocker…6-foot-4, 240 pound lefty coming off serious injury. He’s been pitching in the big leagues for parts of eight seasons. He’s going to be 30 in September. I frankly don’t know how much he will help Philadelphia. His injury history is not good. It may have been a case of “take on this salary and you get….”
Yes, I think the Phillies came away with a bonanza. Overnight they stocked their shelves with lots of goodies. When Alfaro returns healthy and Williams figures out quality pitching, in my opinion we’ll be talking about them as stars of the game.
Could Philadelphia have gotten more from another club? I think if they could have, they would have. The front office dug those wells and came up dry for months and months. Finally, they hit the mother load.
As for Hamels and the Rangers-he will pair with Yu Darvish when Darvish returns to health to form an awesome one-two, righty-lefty punch at the top of the Rangers rotation. He will help the Rangers compete with teams like the Angels and Astros in the division. It will be tough to sweep the Rangers in any series with those two studs at the top of the rotation. And if they do get to the playoffs next year, teams will have to navigate through Darvish and Hamels to move on to the next level. That won’t be easy.
Hamels steadies the rocky starting pitching road the Rangers have been riding for more than two years. Their starters have been hurt. They needed Hamels. The cost was steep.
We must remember this: prospects are prospects. Proven players like Hamels are proven players. Night and day. But that said, I really, really like the prospects that will now be calling Philadelphia their new home.
Watch for my next blog as I break down the Blue Jays/Rockies trade.
Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work at MLBPipeline.com.
That’s it. I’m done. For now.