So what's the going rate for two to three months of Zack Grienke followed by a series of frantic attempts to resign him for less than 20 million dollars a year? As we found out just a moment ago, three pretty solid prospects. The Angels sent RHP's Ariel Pena and John Hellweg and shortstop Jean Segura to the Brewers for Grienke's services in a move that's be lauded for its brilliance and criticized for its stupidity both at the same time by both sides. So what's the real value here? I'll let you decide that, but first you deserve the facts.
Who is Jean Segura? Jean Segura is a 22 year old shortstop that's been a key component in many Top 50 prospect lists for the past two seasons. Segura came up in the Angels system as a second basemen, but do to his quick twitch reflexes, lower body strength and rocket for an arm he was shifted across the diamond to shortstop. This is a rarity, normally it's the other way around, but so far the results have been promising. Segura has all the tools to be an above average defensive major league shortstop, but lacks that "it" factor. You know, the one that makes Derek Jeter look so graceful on his jump throws. It isn't athleticism, it's more grace than anything. Segura currently lacks that, but in a few years he may have it. Still, many experts believe he's destined to return to second base where he'd immediately be an elite gold glove player. My own personal opinion, I think he'll make an adequate defensive shortstop, especially once you see the package he brings on offense. Segura has played the 2012 season in perhaps the most pitcher friendly park in the country, Dickey Stephens Park in Little Rock, Arkansas (remember this ball park folks, it's going to come up a few more times before you're done reading). Across 94 games he's delivered .294/.346/.404 slash line with 10 doubles, 5 triples, 7 home runs and 33 stolen bases. Not bad production, but on the whole, relatively modest numbers from a Top 50 prospect. Don't be fooled though, there's considerably more to Segura than meets the eye. He possesses considerable power, especially to the gaps and when he turns on the ball, he can yank them out of the park with most corner infielders. He has thick, tree-trunk legs that are strong and he could easily steal 40-50 bases if he remains agile enough. Segura's a terrific contact hitter but don't expect him to walk a lot yet. Ultimately, I believe the Brewers got somewhat of a Jose Reyes-lite here with Segura. Before all is said an done, he should transition into a .280/.330 hitter that'll give you around 15 home runs a year and steal 30 bases. That's the center piece.
Who is Ariel Pena? Pena is a 23 year old fireballer from the Dominican Republic who is sharing in the spoils of pitching in the aforementioned Dickey Stephens Park (seriously you guys, this park held Mark Trumbo to under 20 home runs). Pena is listed at 6'3 190 lbs and is aggressive nature. He attacks hitters and ultimately, that's what you look for. Passive pitchers don't succeed in the majors. In 114 innings, Pena has a 2.99 ERA on the season with 111 strike outs and a 1.19 WHIP. He comes armed with a four-seam fastball that sits at 95-97, a two-seam fastball that cuts in on righties at 94-95, a devastating "fall off the table" slider and a "get me over" change up. Just this season he's developed the necessary control to be considered a legitimate prospect. Perhaps what attracted scouts most to Pena is the fact that he really hasn't benefited fro Dickey Stephens Park as much as other pitchers. His road ERA is almost a half run lower than his home ERA suggesting that this AA performance is "for real". Pena possesses the necessary control to succeed, but it's yet to be determined if he has the command. Should his command never develop to its full potential, Pena will be classified a fourth or fifth starter in the major leagues that should've been more (think Francisco Liriano). However, should Pena be able to spot all three of his pitches, you're looking at a number two or three starter. But here comes the Wild Card.
Who is John Hellweg? John Hellweg is a 23 year old starter in AA. He's listed at 6'9 210 lbs, but having met him and sized him up in real life, I can tell you that Hellweg may be 7'0. This is a power arm in every sense of the word. When he was drafted, he was about 6'6 and threw 93-94. By the time he was 21 he was 6'9 and throwing 96-97. Now at 23, as I said he may be 7'0 and I've seen his fastball sit at 99-101. That's not an error, I'm not talking reach triple digits, I'm talking about settling in at triple digits. Yeah, he throws hard. Hellweg also has a knee buckling slider and a change up that's still developing. He was never very impressive in relief, but as a starter, Hellweg has been solid. But the problem with being 7'0 tall is when you try pitching, there's a lot of long moving parts (limbs) that can easily fall out of whack. And by that I mean you never really know if he's going to be an ace or only last 2/3 of an inning. As I said, Hellweg's a Wild Card. So far in AA this season he's pitched 119 innings with 88 K's 60 BB and a 3.38 ERA. Don't let the ordinary K/9 fool you though, Hellweg is a strike out pitcher, the fact that the Angels tried to teach him how to pitch to contact just shows their determination in trying to make him a legitimate starter. But alas, the ball park that is Dickey Stephens strikes again. Hellweg's success (at least according to his home/road splits) is due in large park to pitching in the place home runs go to die. At home he sports a sparkling 2.59 ERA but on the road a less impressive 4.15 ERA. If Hellweg ever gets his mechanics under control, you're looking at a bona-fide ace. If they remain spotty, Hellweg will be a back end starter capable of dominance and destruction all at the same time. If the Brewers aren't patient, they may just move him into a bullpen role, where I wouldn't be surprised if he added another couple of tick s on his fastball. Now that'd be a sight to see. Seven feet tall and a fastball coming at you at 102 mph. God I hope he doesn't kill anyone.
All in all, I'd say the Brewers made out pretty well in this deal. They got a collection of prospects who should all help them become a more competitive team within the next couple of years. The Angels meanwhile got the front of the rotation starter they wanted. If they make the playoffs, I feel bad for AL teams having to face Weaver, Wilson, Grienke and a newly rediscovered co-ace Dan Haren. The Angels should have the money to secure Grienke's services long term as Ervin Santana's 12 million dollar option will most certainly be declined along with Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, Hisanori Takahashi, LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen all reaching free agency and taking an additional 33 million off the Angels payroll. In short, this may work out for both sides.