When CC Sabathia was dealt last year, a lot of us could not wait for the “PTNBL” to actually be, well, named. Sometimes the player is named shortly after a deal. However, as we saw last season, it could go well in to September.
In the deal with Milwaukee, who that player was seemed to be the deciding factor in determining who got the better end of the deal. And as if Mark Shapiro would have it any other way, it appears that the deal he constructed with the St. Louis Cardinals was very similar to that of last season.
Allegedly, there is a list of players that the teams will agree on by September 1st. But not similar to last season – where the list was littered with position players – this list is rumored to be comprised of pitchers. And rightfully so.
Last year, the PTBNL netted the Tribe one Michael Brantley. The outfielder still looks primed to be the leadoff hitter of the future thanks to his patience at the plate. But now what about the Mark DeRosa deal? Well, Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi recently reported that two names that are apparently on the list are Jess Todd and Francisco Samuel.
Todd is hard-throwing right-hander in Memphis, St. Louis’ Triple-A affiliate. He’s currently 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 41 innings of work. Usually around 90-92 MPH, he’s more of a control pitcher that uses a natural sink to induce ground balls. He’s recorded 19 saves and has struck out 50 hitters (versus walking only nine). Something that also may catch your eye is the fact that he has allowed only two home runs this season; a rarity for someone that could potentially be a member of the Indians pitching staff.
Earlier this season, Minor League Ball listed Todd as the fifth-best prospect for the 2009 Cardinals. His traits trend towards “dominant” if used in the ‘pen. A word of caution, however, as they also had Chris Perez at No. 3. We all have seen what he has done for us thus far despite his extremely high ceiling. To make you feel better, CBS.com listed Todd second and said that he is arguably better than any pitcher already in the system save for Adam Wainwright. This is something I could live with.
Samuel is a bit lower on most lists. A few writers at Scout.comlove his strikeout ability, mostly due to a fastball that sits around the 95 MPH range. Another right-hander (while the Indians have next to zero left-handed quality in the bullpen), Samuel’s issue appears to be in his control. High walk rates are something that we really cannot afford to take a risk on at this point; just ask Jensen Lewis.
In his 64 innings pitched in 2008, Samuel walked 53 batters. Sure, he struck out 94, but walking nearly one batter per inning is tough to pitch around – even with an OBA of .191. Baseball America touted his pitching as “generally unhittable,” which is great until you pitch against the more patient batters in the big leagues.
Thus far in 2009, Francisco Samuel has tossed 33 innings with an ERA of 4.28. He’s struck out 40, but walked 28 with a WHIP of 1.54.
The more I look at the analysis of Samuel, I see another potential Chris Perez. Killer stuff with a very high ceiling, but control issues that continue to keep him at bay when it comes to progression through the farm system. Thankfully, while in Double-A, Samuel is on pace to break the all-time saves record for Springfield as he currently has racked up 20. The tops for Springfield is 27 - a record held by, you guessed it, Chris Perez.
There are bound to be more names on the list that is shared by Shapiro and the St. Louis Cardinals. But with two names that make a lot of sense, and both appearing to be back-end bullpen guys, you can definitely sense where the Indians’ collective heads are at as they continue to address a glaring weakness with this team.