On Tuesday, the Rockies signed Gerardo Parra, giving them more left-handed starting outfielders, four, than outfield positions, three. The move was partially expected after the Rockies were rumored to be on the of the finalists for his services. While for some, hope had faded that the Rockies were going to trade any of their outfielders, this move seems to resurrect that possibility in a big way.
Almost immediately after the Parra signing broke on twitter, Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reported that the Rockies were in trade talks with the Orioles regarding Colorado's surplus of outfielders. From the Orioles' side, the match seems good as they not only need help in the outfield, but they also potentially need some left-handed help with Chris Davis still lingering in Free Agency. However, from a Rockies' perspective, this trade match-up is a bit more complicated.
Previous rumors have the Rockies persistently asking for young MLB or MLB-ready starting pitching in return for one of the outfielders. While the Orioles do have at least one pitcher that fits the young MLB pitcher description in Kevin Gausman, it has been reported that they are unwilling to part with him. But the Orioles have an intriguing farm system that might yield what the Rockies are hoping to receive in a trade, so let's break down some of those possibilities.
★ ★ ★
Kevin Gausman, a right-handed pitcher, was born in Centennial, Colorado and also played high school baseball at nearby Grandview High School. While being from Colorado is certainly a plus, the Rockies' interest in him likely stems from what makes him similar to many of the young pitchers that the organization has recently been stockpiling: his plus-plus fastball.
Gausman was the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft out of LSU, and like many of the Orioles pitching prospects, Gausman was moved extremely quickly though their minor league system and reached the Majors less than a year after being drafted. However, he struggled in his first major league experience and has since been yo-yoed up and down from the Orioles to their minor league affiliates to the chagrin of some.
That inconsistent approach makes it difficult to get a read on Gausman's abilities, as he was probably rushed through the minors at first, and since then he hasn't settled anywhere long enough to receive consistent development. However, his peripherals are good as he has averaged 9.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in his minor league career, and 7.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 273 ⅓ innings.
Gausman is just shy of two full years of service time despite being on the Orioles roster for parts of three seasons. meaning that a team would still have control of him through the 2020 season. The Orioles have used up all of his options, however, but this probably wouldn't be that much of a concern as he should be ready to stay in the Majors.
Dylan Bundy, a right-handed pitcher, was taken by the Orioles in the first round with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Despite being a high-school pick, Bundy was in the Majors the following year and pitched in two games as a reliever in September.
Bundy's quick ascent through the minors to the big-league squad was quickly dampened after he missed all of the 2013 and half of the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery. Upon his return, Bundy appeared to be back on track and pitched well in the latter half of 2014 and beginning of 2015 before being shut down once again due to injury, this time calcification in the back area of his shoulder.
When Bundy has been healthy enough to pitch, he's shown the ability to throw three above-average offerings: fastball, changeup and curve. The fastball has been his best pitch sitting in mid to upper 90's. Bundy also has good control and an advanced feel for pitching especially for someone drafted out of high school.
Hunter Harvey, a right-handed pitcher, was another Orioles first round pick (22nd overall) in 2013. After being drafted, Harvey had a great professional debut, and continued that impressive performance with a strong first half in 2014. Across those two seasons, Harvey has posted an extremely impressive 11.0 K/9 with only 3.1 BB/9.
In late July of 2014, Harvey had a strained flexor mass in his right elbow that ended his year. Harvey's 2015 continued a worrisome trend as he missed the first half of the year with a broken leg and the second half with another flair up of the strained flexor mass.
Before being injured, Harvey showed a similar repertoire to Bundy with three above average offerings, fastball, curve and changeup. Like Bundy, Harvey's fastball is the best of the bunch although all three pitches show the potential to strike batters out. Harvey's control is also above average and finishes out a package that projects him as a future front-line starter, assuming he can stay healthy.
Chance Sisco, a left-handed hitting catcher, was drafted in the second round (61st overall) of the 2013 draft shortly after the Orioles drafted Hunter Harvey. Taken out of high school, Sisco has moved his way through the minors and split this past year between high-A Frederick and AA Bowie before being sent to the Arizona Fall League to finish the year.
Sisco's hit tool is the best of his conventional tools, though his eye at the plate is probably the single most important part of that; he has had very good walk totals and low strikeout totals at each level. His power is not well-established yet, but at only 20 years of age, there is hope that it will increase as he continues to mature and grow into his body.
Defensively, Sisco is an unfinished product, partly because he didn't start catching on a regular basis until his senior year in high school. He has a strong arm and the hope is that his defense will catch up to his offense with consistent development.
Jomar Reyes, a right-handed third baseman, was a rare signing for the Orioles who haven't been a consistent player in the international free agent market. Unlike most teenagers signed out of Latin America, Reyes skipped the Dominican Summer League, and made his professional debut stateside at 17 years of age.
Despite the huge jump, Reyes held his own in the Rookie-level Gulf league and then jumped again up to A ball, Delmarva, this year where he faced competition that was on average 3.5 years older than him. Across those two levels, Reyes' natural power has shown through and should be expected to increase as he has still yet to turn 19.
Reyes has shown a willingness to draw walks, but his power is far and away his best tool. Defensively, he is athletic, but at 6'3" and 220 lbs already, there is a high likelihood that he will have to move to first base in the future as he continues to mature and put on weight.
★ ★ ★
These prospects show that Orioles system has some very intriguing pieces at places where at which Rockies could be considered thin, which does make them an intriguing trade partner. If the Orioles were willing to cave and include Gausman in any future deal, I have a feeling a trade would be consummated quite quickly, but most of their other top pitching prospects have the type of injury concerns that should make the Rockies think twice considering the track record Coors Field has on wearing pitchers out.
The best non-pitching prospects are still quite far from the majors, but they could be interesting as additional pieces in any trade that would likely contain at least one pitcher. Overall, I think a trade could be worked out, but I'm not sure that the Orioles are really the best trading partner for the Rockies unless they become willing to part with Gausman.