Astros, Phillies Agree on Ken Giles Trade
Velasquez, selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Astros, is the headliner in the deal. The 23-year-old made his major league debut last season for the Astros jumping from Double-A Corpus Christi past Triple-A Fresno. He started seven games and appeared out of the bullpen 12 times. He compiled a 4.37 ERA with a 58/21 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings.
Heading into the 2015 season, Velasquez was rated 86th out of baseball’s top-100 prospects according to MLB.com and #75 per Baseball Prospectus. The right-hander throws a fastball in the 92-95 MPH range and pairs that with an above-average change-up. Velasquez also has a work-in-progress curve that, if he continues to improve it, could allow him to be a dominant starter. If his stuff doesn’t play over six innings, Velasquez also has the potential to contribute as a set-up man or a closer down the line.
Though Velasquez already has major league experience under his belt, the Phillies should consider having him start the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He’s not a finished product — as mentioned, he could use some work on his curve, and his command was spotty at times. Having added Jeremy Hellickson along with Oberholtzer, the Phillies will not be in dire need of rotation depth in 2016, so they can afford to continue developing their new pitching prospect.
Oberholtzer, 26, will fill the Phillies’ need for an innings-eater out of the rotation. The left-hander has a lot of similarities to former Phillie Kyle Kendrick in that he misses bats rarely without offering elite control or a predilection for ground balls to make up for it. His rates: 15 percent for strikeouts, five percent for walks, and 38.5 for ground balls. Oberholtzer utilizes a high-80’s fastball along with a cutter, a change-up, and a curve.
Oberholtzer has shown some immaturity, as he famously threw at Alex Rodriguez in June this past season. The Astros optioned him to Triple-A as a result. If he’s still having problems controlling his emotions, the Phillies will have time to work with him on it, as Oberholtzer will be under team control through 2020.
Fisher, 22, is an outfielder that was ranked the Astros’ eighth-best prospect by MLB.com. He’s local to the area, graduating from Cedar Crest High School in Lebanon, PA. The Astros selected him in the first round, 37th overall, in the 2014 draft.
In his first full season of professional baseball, with Single-A Quad Cities and High-A Lancaster, Fisher hit a combined .275/.364/.483 with 21 doubles, 22 home runs, and 31 stolen bases in 38 attempts across 569 plate appearances. Fisher doesn’t have the arm to play center field or right field, but if his bat continues to progress, he can certainly hit enough to justify the position. Bill Mitchell of Baseball America wrote about Fisher last month, describing his raw power as “plus-plus”.
Fisher joins an increasingly bigger pool of outfield prospects in the Phillies’ system. Nick Williams, Cornelius Randolph, and Roman Quinn can also be found in the Phillies’ top-10 as well as likely utilityman Darnell Sweeney and probable Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel.
Eshelman, 21, was selected by the Astros in the second round of the 2015 draft. He tossed 10 1/3 innings, split between the Astros’ rookie league team and Single-A Quad Cities. The right-hander allowed five runs on 12 hits and five walks with eight strikeouts. It’s a lukewarm professional debut considering what he did as a college pitcher with Cal State Fullerton. Eshelman walked a grand total of 18 batters while striking out 321 in 376 1/3 innings. Obviously, college baseball is a different animal than minor league baseball, but it was impressive nevertheless.
Eshelman, who was ranked as the Astros’ 13th-best prospect by MLB.com, has fringy stuff that likely limits his potential to that of a #5 starter. He throws a fastball that sits in the high 80’s and low 90’s, as well as a change-up and a pair of breaking balls. He will most likely move quickly through the Phillies’ system and serve as pitching depth. (Our own Michael Baumann wrote about Eshelman for D1Baseball.com earlier this year.)
This trade seems like a win on all sides. The Astros get a dominant closer who’s ready to contribute right away. The Phillies get a projectable arm who could either become a mid-rotation starter (or better) or become a late-innings reliever himself, a lefty who will serve as rotation depth at worst, a toolsy corner outfielder, and a reliable starter to serve as depth down the road.
Featured image credit: Hunter Martin, Getty Images