Jul 21, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder
(18) scored on a triple by Athletics left fielder Jake Smolinski (5), not in picture, during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Whether it’s the Winter Meetings or July’s non-waiver trade deadline, the Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane is sure to make a splash. Considering the fact that the A’s reside in the American League West cellar, it comes to no surprise that infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist is in fact headed to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor league pitchers Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea; this was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
After trading south paw Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros on Thursday as well as closer Tyler Clippard yesterday to the New York Mets, Zobrist becomes the third impending free agent to be dealt by Oakland in less than a week. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Beane stated in a phone conference on Tuesday that with the recent flurry of transactions, his ball club is indeed rebuilding for the future.
"“If we’re going to have hopefully some sustained success, it’s going to have to be done organically with a large group of players,” Beane responded, while defining the Astros as a model to resemble their success from. “It may take a bit longer, but hopefully we’ll be able to hold onto them longer.”"
In doing so, the A’s have replenished a depleting farm system with the likes of highly-touted catching prospect Jacob Nottingham, right-handed pitchers Daniel Mengden and Casey Meisner, along with Brooks and Manaea — all of whom range from 20 to 25 years old.
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Out of the five prospects mentioned above, Brooks, 25, is the only player to have successfully made it to the major leagues after making three relief appearances for the Royals and one start in the last two seasons. Melissa Lockard of scout.com reports that Brooks isn’t “over-powering” per say, but nonetheless has a respectable fastball, which tops out a 95 miles-per-hour. Complimenting his fastball, the 220 pound right-hander from California State San Bernardino possess several off-speed pitches including a change-up, slider and curveball.
In 2015, Brooks has spent most of his time on Kansas City’s Triple-A squad in Omaha. There Brooks posted a 3.71 earned run average in 106 2/3 innings with an exceptional strike out rate of 92:21. At this moment it is unclear as to whether or not Brooks will remain a starter for the Athletics; however, with a four-man rotation still intact, it has yet to be determined who will take the mound for the green and gold in Oakland versus the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.
Here is a brief look at the right-hander — striking out Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos with a nasty breaking ball:
Manaea, 23, who was the centerpiece to the Zobrist trade, is one of the top-30 pitching prospects in all of baseball and has a lot of potential to crack the major league roster in a few years as a frontline starter for the Athletics. Standing a 6’7″, the lefty can light up the radar gun with a scorching 97 mile-per-hour fastball, along with an effective slider and reliable change-up. What is so impressive about Manaea is the fact that he’s already suited up for Double-A Arkansas after being drafted in the first round of the 2013 major league baseball draft.
Despite several injury set-backs these past two seasons, Manaea is destined to be something special. Before being promoted to Arkansas, the left-handed posted a 3.69 earned run average along with a 39:11 strikeout-to-walk-ratio. Ideally, Manaea projects to be a top-of-the-order starter in the A’s rotation for many years. Inn the meantime, expect him to join the A’s Double-A affiliate, the Midland RockHounds.
Check out this footage of the herky-jerky south paw and prepare to be amazed. Personally, his wind-up and delivery share in comparison to that of Barry Zito. Whether the 23-year-old pans out or not, why not let the 2002 Cy Young award winner mentor this young kid. Despite the fact that his command is a bit spotty, there is much potential him as well as Brooks. These two prospects are something to be ecstatic about for the up-and-coming seasons.
As for the Royals, they’ve acquired a solid switch-hitting utility infielder/outfielder in Zobrist. Prior to this transaction, there was an undisclosed rumor that the New York Mets were willing to part with their young flame-thrower Rafael Montero, who has in fact made his major league debut, but he has been shelved for some time with a strained rotator cuff. Regardless, Zobrist will enhance the 2014 American League Championship lineup with his versatility to play multiple positions including second base, along with stints in left field, right field and occasionally at third base or shortstop. With a slash line of .262/.354/.801, he is sure to be a key contributor to the Royals with their eyes set on another postseason appearance.