For the last week, we had been hearing rumors of the Marlins' strong desire to deal veteran starter Ricky Nolasco, and it finally happened on Saturday, with the Fish shipping Nolasco to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for three pitching prospects. As was the case with last summer's Hanley Ramirez deal, the primary objective from the Marlins' point of view was salary relief. In exchange for the Dodgers taking the remainder of Nolasco's deal for this season, the club had to settle for a "lower tier" crop of prospects in return. That doesn't mean that they can't still offer anything to the organization, however. Here's a quick look at what Steven Ames, Josh Wall, and Angel Sanchez bring to the organization.
RHP Steven Ames
Steven Ames, a 17th-round pick by the Dodgers in 2009, is a hard-throwing righty who has posted dominant numbers in just about every stint of his professional career so far. Ames' numbers this season have been a bit higher, but that's likely due to being forced to pitch in the extremely friendly confines of Albuquerque and the rest of the Pacific Coast League. Ames' best season to date was last year, where he posted a phenomenal 1.56 ERA in 63.1 innings of work, walking just 13 batters compared to 72 strikeouts. The lack of walks is particularly encouraging for Ames' chances of making an impact in the bullpen at the big league level. He can run his fastball up to the mid-90's, and although his slider is not devastating as an outpitch, his ability to command the zone and pitch to contact when needed has played a huge role in his success. Ames has not walked more than 13 batters over a full season so far in his professional career and I'd expect to see him working in the big league bullpen within the next couple weeks.
RHP Josh Wall
Josh Wall is another right-handed bullpen arm and happens to be the only prospect in the Nolasco deal with major league experience under his belt. He's an imposing figure on the mound, standing at 6'6," which means that the Marlins may officially have the tallest minor league pitching depth in all of baseball with Wall and lefty Brian Flynn. Wall has struggled in his time in the upper levels of the minor leagues, as well as his cup of coffee in the majors, partially due to his struggle to throw strikes. The Dodgers moved Wall to the bullpen from a starting role just two seasons ago, so there is still room for improvement but it's likely that Ames will end up being the more effective reliever from this deal when all is said and done.
RHP Angel Sanchez
Angel Sanchez was signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent in 2010 and is the only starting pitcher the Fish received for Ricky Nolasco. Sanchez has the highest ceiling of the three prospects in the deal, and could wind up being a middle-of-the-rotation starter if all goes according to plan. Sanchez's arsenal includes a low-to-mid-90's fastball and good slider. Sanchez also features a curveball and changeup and will have to learn to improve them if he wants to stay out of the bullpen. Sanchez's struggles over the past couple seasons, mostly in the California League, are somewhat concerning and will become more of a concern if he has to keep repeating levels. Sanchez is 23 right now and the Fish will give him every opportunity to remain a starter and hopefully a change of scenery will be just what the doctor ordered.
Although the Marlins didn't get top-level talent in return for Ricky Nolasco, they were able to unload the remainder of his contract while still being able to acquire pitching depth that could prove to be valuable down the road, particularly in the bullpen. For a team out of contention and in rebuilding mode, obtaining value is the name of the game.