Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Four-for-One Trade for RHP Ken Giles

UPDATE: Reports now indicate that the fourth player being traded is RHP Thomas Eshelman, the 2015 second round draft pick who signed for $1.1 million. I had already written Eshelman's chapter for my upcoming 2016 Astros Farm System Handbook:
The second round pick didn’t get much playing time after signing, appearing in only four games in August before being shut down for the season. The Astros were likely playing it safe with Eshelman, a workhorse who had pitched 137 innings in his third season at Cal State Fullerton.
Thankfully, one need not rely on his 2015 pro output in order to determine what type of pitcher Eshelman is as there are numerous scouting reports on him. The one thing you will take away from every one of those reports is that Eshelman has command far beyond his age and experience. In his 137 college innings in 2015, he allowed seven walks to 139 strikeouts, a strikeout to walk rate just below 20:1. (How much of his fantastic control/command is attributable to his older brother Sam’s experiments with him as a child is debatable, but having been subjected to a dog shock collar by Sam, Eshelman likely learned quickly what not to do!)
Eshelman doesn’t throw heat, relying on a upper 80’s to low 90’s fastball with movement which sometimes touches 93, but rather on his impeccable ability to control his location, the ability to hide the ball well and a repeatable delivery and arm slot. In addition to the fastball, Eshelman features a solid changeup and a developing curveball which flashes plus.
Eshleman’s advanced control and command make him a good candidate to fast track through the system. He will likely start his 2016 season with the Low A full season Quad Cities team, but he will probably not linger at that level long and could very well earn a couple of promotions, landing him at AA Corpus Christi to end the season.
You can see what I wrote about the others below, but with the addition of Eshelman, that seems a very high price to pay for Giles. Naturally, one can't really judge a trade for years (at least not normally), but suffice it to say that Giles had better be channeling his inner Mariano Rivera for that haul. Luhnow traded from depth, though. There is a lot of pitching and outfield depth in the system. That depth may get a little bit shallower after the Rule 5 draft today, but nonetheless I understand where he was coming from. We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out. In the meantime, I wish only the best for Vince, Brett, Derek and Thomas in their life after Astros.

Here is the updated off-season transaction list with these changes.


The Astros are working on finalizing a trade with the Phillies that will bring 25-year old RHP Ken Giles, a hard-throwing closer (think 100-mph regularly but with better command ... and hopefully less baggage ... than Aroldis Chapman) to the team in exchange for four players, only three of whom have been identified at this point: RHP Vince Velasquez, LHP Brett Oberholtzer and OF Derek Fisher.

It's hard for me to weigh in at this point without knowing the fourth piece to the puzzle, but my initial reaction is that it will be a good move for Brett Oberholtzer who will benefit from a fresh start after becoming persona non grata for not hitting A-Rod with a pitch but coming close (which has always mystified me, but I digress). Oberholtzer grew up a Phillies fan and will now be closer to his family in Delaware. Pennsylvania-born Derek Fisher will also be closer to home, but more importantly, he will likely get a better chance in the Phillies organization than in his current situation with so many outfielders surrounding him on the depth charts.

Velasquez is another story. I see so much potential in him that his being traded is tough for me. But that's the problem. Luhnow is betting Velazquez's potential against the more demonstrable track record of Giles. Velasquez could, conceivably, be that special arm out of the 'pen for the Astros, but frankly, he should be given every opportunity to start first. In any event, if the Astros are going to lose him, which seems certain to be the case, I am very happy that he is going to the National League so the Astros won't have to face him often once he realizes his potential.

With the pieces that we know, I would lean toward saying that this is a fair trade, but I won't go quite that far without knowing the final piece of the puzzle.


  1. Jayne,

    I always enjoy reading your blog and I know you focus on the farm system, but I have to say, you probably have PAS (Prospect Attachment Syndrome) worse than anyone I have seen that covers the Astros. Personally, the only player I think the Astros will miss is Velasquez, but most, myself included, see him as a #3 in the major leagues and the Astros have depth at pitching more than any other position. I don't see the others as being any big loss and considering what Boston gave up to get Kimbrell I think Luhnow did very well in only giving up the prospects he did.

    1. I don't know who these "most" you are talking about are, but if they see Velasquez's ceiling as a #3, "most" of them are talking out their bootie. He has top of the rotation and/or closer stuff and he will likely fill one of those roles for some team at some point if he stays healthy. But aside from that, I didn't say that I didn't like the trade. I made the (correct) observation that the Astros gave up a lot. If Giles can stay healthy and comes as advertised, I will consider it a win even if Velasquez becomes an ace for the Phillies. But none of that is a given. Giles could flame out. Velasquez could flame out. It happens. I'm not going to sit here and say that this was the best trade ever before Giles throws one pitch for the Astros. Nor am I going to say that it's the worst trade ever. And I never said any of that in the post. You might want to go back and re-read it because you seem to have RCS (Reading Comprehension Syndrome). I'm sorry. Did that sound condescending? I kind of hope so then you'll see how it feels to be told you you must have a "syndrome" just because your opinion may not match someone's preconceived notion of what your opinion should be.

  2. You said it was a haul and I disagree. Velasquez ceiling is a #2 at best. We know Obie is a #5 only and the other 2 may never even make it to the major leagues. Calling it a haul is associated with having PAS. Lighten up, Francis.

    1. I said it was a haul and I stand by that. You can disagree with me without implying that I am a feeble-minded dimwit who must have an overly emotional attachment to a player or players because I can't possibly know what I'm actually talking about (presumably because I have a vagina which keeps me from thinking clearly). I wouldn't call you a egotistical uneducated buffoon just because I think you are undervaluing Velasquez, ignoring the value of the three other pieces of the trade and apparently are unaware that Kimbrel is spelled with only one l. That would be rude so I wouldn't do that. It is possible to disagree with someone without being rude about it. You aren't always going to be right. I'm not always going to be right. But these are matters of opinion for now, not matters of fact. To just assume that your thought process is superior to someone who has talked to numerous coaches and scouts over the last four and a half years about these players is rude, pretentious and disrespectful. So with all due respect ... go to hell, Francis.

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