July 26, 2017
Following one of their most impressive wins of the season – a 9-0 bludgeoning of the Houston Astros that included another stellar start from rising rotation star Aaron Nola – the Phillies moved their most obvious trade chip to a contender for three young minor league prospects.
Both Gomez and Alejandro are 20-year-old Venezuela natives who were playing the 2017 season at Low-A Asheville. Hammer is a 23-year-old, former 24th round pick who struck out 47 while walking just five in 24 appearances at Asheville before earning a promotion to Class A Lancaster a month ago.
All three players were among the six selected from Asheville's team to play in last month's South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
“We’re excited about all three of these kids,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “Our scouting group really did a good job running all over the country, trying to get extra looks at these players. We’re really excited to pull this off.”
Neshek, acquired in a November salary-dump trade from the Astros, was the Phillies lone All-Star in Miami two weeks ago. He is 3-2 with a 1.12 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, and a 9.00 strikeout-to-walk rate in 40 1/3 innings over 43 appearances.
“It's exciting,” Neshek said. “You jump right into a playoff race. That's a great team, great offense. I don't know the exact standings but I know they're Wild Card right now. I played for Bud Black before. He was awesome. Played with Nolan Arenado in the World Baseball Classic. I played with a few guys.
“It's bittersweet too. I enjoyed my time here. These guys are some of the better guys I've played with. This is one of my favorite places I've been. It's tough. I've never been through something like this in the big leagues to another big-league team so there's a lot of emotion.”
Klentak said almost every team in contention at least called the Phillies about Neshek, but a “handful” were serious bidders.
“That’s always the game in this type of setting, trying to discern who is motivated and who isn’t and when the right time is to strike,” he said. “I think the Rockies were great to deal with and we were happy to send Pat their way.”
The Phillies did not get any of the Rockies top 10 prospects back for Neshek, but that was never the type of return anyone would have expected in exchange for a two-month rental middle reliever. What they did get back were young players who fit into a crowded farm system.
Of the three players the Phillies received in Wednesday night’s trade, only one, Gomez, has to be protected in this winter’s Rule 5 Draft. This is an important point, since the Phillies, following the recent trades in the last three seasons, are flush with older, more-advanced prospects who do have to be protected on the 40-man roster.
Just this past winter, the Phillies had to add a whopping 11 prospects to the roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. They’ll have to add more than a couple notable names to that group this November, including J.P. Crawford, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew Pullin, Carlos Tocci, and Seranthony Dominguez, among others.
“Different teams evaluate players different ways, but in this case two of these players are 20-years-old and playing full season for the first time,” Klentak said. “They obviously have more ground to cover before they reach the big leagues, but we like all three of these guys for a variety of reasons, I think it’s a very balanced trade. We got a young starter, a young reliever, and a young shortstop that can do a lot of things that we like. We do think highly of these three guys.”
And now a little more on each of the three A-ballers coming into the Phillies system:
• RHP Alejandro Requena, 20, was 8-3 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.085 WHIP, and 3.88 K/BB rate in 19 starts/117 innings at Asheville. Requena hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in 11 straight starts (and in 17 of the 19 starts he's made this season).
"A really impressive of performance so far this year," Klentak said. "He’s a strike thrower. He’ll fit in pretty good with the group of pitching prospects in our system."
• SS Jose Gomez, 20, slashed .324/.374/.437 with four home runs and 20 doubles while going 18-for-29 in stolen base attempts in 81 games with Asheville in his first full minor league season. Gomez was ranked the 21st prospect in the Rockies system by MLBPipeline.com.
From the MLBPipeline.com scouting report: "[In 2016] he led the Rookie-level Pioneer League in hits (98) and contact rate (92 percent) while ranking second in batting (.367). In addition to his hitting ability, he also impressed with his maturity and energy as one of the youngest regulars (age 19) in the league."
• RHP J.D. Hammer is a Colorado native who turned 23-years old two weeks ago. Hammer moved to the bullpen after working as a starter at Marshall University. He can touch 97-MPH on the radar gun.
From Baseball America: "Unfortunately considering his name, Hammer does not have a curveball ... instead he has a below-average slider that he’s working to improve to match his already impressive fastball. Hammer’s fastball gets some swings and misses already and he does a good job of locating it."
You can read more scouting analysis from Baseball America's Phillies-Rockies trade story from Wednesday night.
The Phillies, meanwhile, have another five days to explore other trades prior to Monday’s deadline, but there’s a decent chance they’re finished dealing this month for a couple of reasons.
Jeremy Hellickson hasn’t helped his trade value in the last month and two of potential veteran hitters who could have been on the move, Daniel Nava and Howie Kendrick, have been plagued with injuries. Nava was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain on Wednesday and Kendrick, who just returned from his second DL stint of the season, exited Wednesday’s game after getting hit on the hand by a pitch.
The Phillies, of course, could still trade a guy like Kendrick next month through waivers.
“We’ll have to see,” Klentak said. “I don’t want to handicap it. We’ve received calls on some of our other players, some more serious than others. Health will be a factor. … We’ll certainly be here, we’ll be on the phones, and we’ll be working as hard as we can to see what’s out there. But (the Neshek trade) is definitely the one we thought was most likely.”
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