I remember listening to Baseball America’s Marlins 2017 Preview podcast during Spring Training.
Their take away from the Dan Straily trade was that the Marlins got fleeced in the deal, giving up far too much for a journeyman pitcher, in a similar way that they have recently overpaid for pitchers such as Matt Latos and Andrew Cashner.
The Marlins gave up three of their top-15 prospects for Straily, who the Reds had claimed off waivers from the Padres (i.e. for nothing). This was the basis for the derision the Marlins were receiving from the pundits. But how has the trade fared so far? It’s still very early to judge any of this, particularly in terms of the prospect haul that the Reds obtained, but here goes.
Straily has done quite well for Miami so far, with a 7-3 record, 3.31 ERA and 1.8 WAR. Compared to last season, his HR/9 and BB/9 are down while his K/9 is up. He is a solid mid-rotation starter on a pitching-starved team.
So to evaluate the trade further, how are the three players the Fish traded for Straily doing?
Luis Castillo (RHP):
Castillo had been the No. 5 Marlins prospect according to MLB.com and the No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America. The Dominican prospect features an upper-90s fastball that can touch triple digits. He had a 2.07 ERA with 7.00 K/9 IP in high-A. For those with particularly good memories, Castillo was initially traded to the Padres for Cashner prior to that deal being voided.
This year, he started in high-A and was fairly quickly promoted. He has posted a 2.58 ERA in 80 ⅓ innings with the Reds Double-A affiliate while fanning 81 batters and walking only 13. His secondary pitches were reported to show improvement, while cruising in the mid-to-upper 90s on the bump with an improving changeup.
Here’s a scouting report from redsminorleagues.com just before Castillo was promoted to the Reds.
Due to the Reds having the worst ERA in baseball, they brought Castillo directly from Double-A to the majors.
So far this season he has made three starts, and has been a victim of the long ball, giving up five homers so far. His ERA has been 4.41, with a WHIP of 1.71 and FIP of 6.10, but he has struck out 12.1 batters per nine.
His stats aren’t terrible considering the 24 year old skipped Double-A and two of his starts were in Cincinnati and Colorado. He is currently ranked as the Reds No. 5 prospect.
Austin Brice (RHP)
Brice, a prep signee out of North Carolina, was drafted by the Marlins in the ninth round in 2010. After toiling in the minors for six years, Brice made his major league debut with the Marlins in 2016, appearing in 15 games, all out of the bullpen.
He did well in his first 13 outings, but gave up six runs in 1 ⅓ innings over his last two outings, which ballooned his ERA from 3.55 to 7.07 in the matter of a week. His stats were solid otherwise, as in 14 innings he gave up only nine hits and five walks, while striking out 14.
This season, he was called up to the Reds in May and has again pitched out of the ‘pen. He has been a part of the terrible Reds bullpen, and despite a strong first 14 games, has struggled since his June 17th outing. His ERA is currently 5.65.
Brice is a work in progress, and about the only thing which can be said for sure is that he has been cast as a middle reliever going forward.
Zeke White (OF)
This 20 year-old outfield prospect, also from North Carolina, was drafted by the Marlins out of high school in the third round of the 2015 draft. He is currently playing in rookie ball for the Reds and has been off to a slow start, hitting only .152 in his first 11 games with a homer and six RBI.
The Reds are hoping he improves from a mediocre 2016, where in 51 games he hit .214 with an OPS of .607 and one long ball in 51 games.
In short, White is young, but needs to show some hitting ability.
Clearly, the final word on the outcome of the trade from the Reds’ perspective hinges on how Castillo turns out, while the Marlins have to be pleased with Straily’s performance. He has looked like a solid third or fourth starter type, which is likely what they had hoped for.