Yesterday there was more action that talk, because the Twins have traded their ace Fransisco Liriano to the hated Chicago White Sox for SS Eduardo Escobar and LHP Pedro Hernandez. At first thought, The Frankie Trade has the potential to be seen as bad as The Garza Trade by Twins' fans everywhere. Furthermore trading him to the most hated by the Twins' fans team within the division means that somebody or something possessed Terry Ryan, a feeling that is accentuated by a look at Eduardo Escobar's career minor league OPS: .666. Both players are on the 40-man roster. The Twins would need to make a related move to open one more spot. (EDIT: PJ Walters was moved to the 60-day DL to make room) Both players are heading to Rochester and are assigned to the Red Wings. This definitely has to be the work of the devil or something. On the other hand, let's see who the Twins received in this trade and see whether there is a silver lining:
Pedro Hernandez, a LHP, is a 23 year old Venezuelan, born on April 12, 1989 in Barquisimeto, who was one of the two pitchers the White Sox received by the Padres in the Carlos Quentin trade. He is listed at 5'10" 200 lbs. Hernandez was rushed (to AAA) by the Padres in 2011 and (to the majors for one start) by the White Sox this season. He has dominated AA in 2011 and was doing a fine job this year. He had 3.40 ERA, 1.185 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 4.30 K/BB in AA San Antonio in 2011 in 8 starts and 2.75 ERA, 1.252 WHIP, 4.8 K/9 and 2.06 BB in AA Birmingham earlier this season in 12 starts. In 2 stars (3 games) in AAA Charlotte this season he was 3.71 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, 9.0 K/9 and 5.67 K/BB. His AAA numbers are better than any of any Twins' AAA pitchers (including Scott Diamond) this season.
He has four pitches: Fastball, Cutter, Curve and Change. Good command of all 4 of his pitches His best pitch is his change up and it is a plus pitch and definitely an out pitch. His fastball has above average movement and the velocity is at low 90s with occasional mid-90s spurs. He has developed a cutter recently, which projects as a plus pitch once he gets a better feel for it. It sits in the mid-high 80s. His curveball is an average pitch, its a slow curve in the 70s and he is using it as a change of pace type of pitch. He has been projected as a back of the rotation starter or a bullpen piece, but does have potential. A lot of it depends on the development of his cutter and fastball. He will probably spend a while in Rochester, might get up to the majors in September and fight for a rotation spot for 2013. He is what the Twins were looking for: an MLB-ready young pitcher who can help the 2013 rotation. And he is a Lefty.
Eduardo Escobar is also a 23 year old Venezuelan, born on January 5, 1989 in Villa de Cura, and also is 5"10", but that is where the similarities with Hernandez end. He is generous listed at 165 lbs, is a Switch Hitting ShortStop and has incredible skills with the glove. Baseball America has listed him as the best fielding infield prospect with the White Sox the last 4 seasons. And defense and speed are his main weapons. Another player rushed through the system (in AAA last season and all season in the majors this season), his bat has not matured as fast as his glove.
His career minor league line is .270/.315/.351, which is discouraging. He spent this season with the big club and he hit .207/.281/.276 in 98 plate appearances, which is Drew Butera-like at first sight. On the other hand, hitting as a RHB against LHP, he career MLB line is .333/.357/.481, which is very encouraging (but this is just 28 plate appearances). Also his MiLB career splits indicated that he is at least an average hitter as a RHB against LHPs. Maybe if he abandons switch hitting he might improve with most consistent repetitions. He is headed to Rochester to work with Tom Brunansky. All in all, he projects as a defensive replacement, utility hitter, unless he can turn the corner with the bat. He might return to the majors in September but expect him to be in a fight for a 25-man roster position in 2013 if one or both of Alexi Casilla and Jamey Carroll are not with the team.
All in all, it is hard to know how the Twins did in this trade. They received two 23 year olds for Liriano, including a MLB-ready pitcher (who could be a mid of the rotation pitcher or could be like PJ Walters) and a sleek fielding SS. Both have the potential, whether they realize it, it is to be seen.