On Wednesday, ESPN reported another big trade coming from the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. Once again the D-backs propel themselves to the top of the trading mill with another first class acquisition, this time, trading for Atlanta’s ace pitcher Shelby Miller. The 2015 All-Star will join the D-backs rotation with another start studded pitcher, Zack Greinke, who is also coming off of a hot season.
The five-player deal that sends Miller to the D-backs also sends the Braves three young talents. Atlanta will receive outfielder Ender Inciarte, pitching prospect Aaron Blair and the 2015 number one overall pick shortstop Dansby Swanson.
The winners in this deal, however, are not the Arizona Diamondbacks, much to people’s dismay; the actual winners out of this deal are the Atlanta Braves.
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Sure Shelby Miller was an all-star last season and will be joining Zach Greinke in what already looks like a contending rotation for the NL West title. But I do not see Miller being an effective pitcher in a tough NL West division that sees him face off against hitter such as, Adrian Gonzalez, Buster Posey, Joc Pederson, Justin Upton, and Brandon Belt just to name a few.
Miller had six wins and a league leading 17 losses last season, as well as a 3.02 earned run average. He will be a mid-rotation pitcher at best and will have to prove his worth this year, as unlike the Braves, Arizona will give him the run support he needs as they scored 720 runs last season that put them 8th in the MLB and second in the National League.
The True Winners:
Atlanta comes away in this trade with a great trio of young talent to help build their organization who finished under 500 in win percentage with a losing record of 67-95, 4th in their division and 13th in the National League.
Here is a look at the young guns that will make their way to Atlanta.
Outfielder Ender Inciarte finished last season with a batting average of .303, which is ninth in the National League, with a fielding percentage of .979 and a National League fourth best assists by an outfielder with ten assists coming from the twenty-five-year-old Venezuelan.
Inciarte could see time as Atlanta’s leadoff hitter; he was ninth in the National League in singles with 121 and stole 21 bases in the 132 games that he played for Arizona last season. Inciarte’s will play a more defensive role as the outfielder flashed his defensive talent with 29 defensive runs saved which was second among position players last season.
After trading away last season’s center fielder, Cameron Maybin to the Detroit Tigers, the role of center fielder will fall into Inciarte’s hands, well, in this case, glove.
The twenty-three-year-old is going to fill the hole left behind by Millers move. Standing tall at six foot, five inches the young right-hander had a great run in triple-A ball this season. The former number three prospect in the Arizona organization held a record of 7-2 while playing in 13 games for the Reno Aces, the triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks, with an earned run average of 3.16.
In the 71 innings he pitched with the Aces, he struck out 56 batters. His pitches include a mid-90s fastball, an above-average changeup, and an average curveball; he will be a great project for Atlanta’s pitching coach, World Series winning Roger McDowell.
I can see Blair getting into the starting rotation for the Braves this year, a young talent for sure he has the potential to be a great number two man in the rotation.
Amongst the three traded to the Braves, this man is the talent that Arizona will undoubtingly miss. Atlanta recently traded a young talented and widely seen as the best defensive shortstop in the game, Andrelton Simmons for veteran shortstop Erick Aybar and two top pitching prospects from the Angels organization.
The move makes a lot more sense now that the Braves have acquired Swanson. Aybar will be the shortstop for now until Swanson is ready to make his debut in the MLB. The twenty-one-year-old Swanson was the number one pick in this year’s draft could see the big leagues as early as this season, but expert consensus sees him ready to play in 2017.
Last season for the Vanderbilt Commodores Swanson hit for .335 batting average, a .623 slugging percentage that ranked him 40th in Division 1 of the NCAA, he also ranked 11th in the league in doubles with 24 in the year.
Swanson struggled his freshman year of college with injuries but came back his sophomore and junior year to help take the Commodores to back- to- back College World Series championship games, winning it all in 2014, where he was named the MVP of that year’s World Series, and coming up close in 2015.
While with Arizona Swanson played short season A baseball with the Hillsboro Hops, playing in 22 games Swanson hit for a .289 batting average, .876 on base percentage and demonstrated his extra bases power with seven doubles, three triples and even knocking in a home run.
Swanson is major league quality, and I expect him to defy the odds and get his first taste of the majors this season, he will fill the hole left behind by the trade involving Simmons.
Only Time Will Tell
Atlanta is looking to building a better club for the future and will surely be making more moves this offseason to acquire young talent that they can mold. Although they lose a decent arm in Shelby Miller, they have gained a wealth of talent in the young trio traded to them. Braves fans must be patient, they won’t be winning championships anytime soon, but their team will produce a quality attempt in the upcoming seasons.
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