On Wednesday, the Kansas City Royals made the first of what figures to be a couple trades before the July 31 deadline, sending third baseman Wilson Betemit to the Tigers in exchange for two minor leaguers.
It had been rumored for weeks that Betemit was likely to leave, as his playing time had reduced mightily since top prospect Mike Moustakas was called up on June 9. Since that time, Betemit had only 23 at-bats, as opposed to 180 before the call-up.
Considering the lack of recent playing time, the return for Betemit, who is hitting .281 with three home runs and 27 RBI on the season, should not have been expected to be much, and it seems it wasn’t.
In return, the Royals received 21-year-old catcher Julio Rodriguez and 19-year-old left-handed pitcher Antonio Cruz. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about these players, so here is a breakdown of the two from someone more in the know, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein:
Julio Rodriguez is nothing more than an organizational catcher with the ability to make contact while offering no power, no approach, and sub-standard receiving skills, although his arm is plus. He’s the kind of player who might still be in the minors ten years from now, bouncing from organization to organization simply because he can play the position.
Antonio Cruz is the more interesting player, but only in comparison to Rodriguez. A short and skinny 19-year-old, Cruz offers above-average velocity from the left side and can flash a tight curveball at times, but he doesn’t have a truly dependable out pitch to profile as anything beyond a seventh-inning reliever or left-handed specialist, as Midwest League lefties are hitting just .200/.280/.295 against him.
So it looks as if at best the Royals may have gotten a situational lefty out of the pen. But that doesn’t mean this was a bad trade. Betemit wasn’t going to be part of the team’s plans going forward, so Kansas City needed to get as much as they could for him, which was never going to be much.
And you never know, prospects do sometimes surprise even the best experts. It’s not impossible to think one of the two players could exceed expectations and someday make an impact on a Royals’ team whose future surely looks brighter than its present.
In the meantime, don’t be surprised if a few more Royals — Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur, Bruce Chen and possibly even Joakim Soria, although I doubt it — are traded away to contenders in the next 10 days.
About the Author
Written by Ryan Riordan