Dodger Blue Bye-Yu – Part 1
It was what Yu Darvish didn’t bring back in trade value that really got Metroplex tongues wagging last week.
And that’s a bit unfair, to everyone involved. This was much more complex than a trade for an ace would seem to be.
Limiting ourselves to just the Dodgers, we heard three names that stood out as stellar prospects. Those were the Dodgers first-, second-, and third-ranked minor leaguers: RHP Walker Buehler, OF Alex Verdugo, and RHP Yadier Alvarez.
For a true-blue, #1 starter in MLB, going for one (or, potentially, even two) of those guys is legit—if that #1 starter is controllable.
But that’s not Yu. Remember, he’s a free agent come the offseason.
So LA was looking at him for three months. Is he worth one of those guys, as a rental? No. Sorry, but no. I felt a Top 5 Dodger prospect was a good haul. I felt we needed to get quantity with quality, but in the lottery that is minor league projections, I’d go for an extra player over talent (unless that talent was one of those Top 3 Dodger kids.)
As best I can guess (I haven’t been privy to any inside notes), the talks stopped when Buehler, Verdugo, or Alvarez entered the package. The balance was off because the Dodgers would have balked at hearing “and” after those names, and the Rangers (rightfully) would have balked not hearing them at least discussed.
Personally, I give this trade a B+, with a shot at reaching A-level honors in time. It was a lot better than it looks by people’s familiarity with the names. The Rangers appear to have done their homework well before pulling any triggers. Would you expect less from JD? I wouldn’t.
So, as Coach Norman Dale (the great Gene Hackman) says in Hoosiers, “I would hope you would support who we are, not who we are not.”
That’s what I’m all about here. Let’s look at what the Rangers got for Darvish, versus pining over what they did not—from the lowest-ranked of the prospects to the top.
First, understand none of the three, as it might have been presented, are scrubs, or organizational roster-fillers. These are all on MLB.com’s Top 30 prospect list for the Dodgers, which means they shouldn’t shock you if you see them in MLB.
Brendon Davis was ranked as the Dodgers #29 prospect heading into 2017; he immediately assumes that same spot for MLB.com upon coming to the Rangers. This is the projectable-frame, flash-of-pop type you take a flyer on in the mid rounds (the Dodgers actually took him in the 5th round, out of HS). He has a high ceiling and a low floor. He also, from all I can tell, is one of these guys with “natural power.
I love this quote from minorleaguebaseball.com:
“He’s a bundle of hitting tools with raw power that stands out on the field but issues with selectivity, contact, and swing mechanics have muted his production. He’s only 20 years old so he still has plenty of time to work on these problems and the Rangers have helped similar hitters succeed.
A lot of the loft or lag on his career is going to depend on how he puts weight on his 6’4”, 185lb frame, and how that impacts his range and glove. From the various reports I’ve read, nobody sees him sticking at short. He’s already lacking a quick first step, and that’ll only get slower as his frame gains the necessary meat. Given that his arm rates as strong, and he has speed but not a quick first step, I could see him in the outfield. One more power bat in that spot won’t hurt.
Here’s MLB.com on Davis, who, at best, would be a potential heir apparent as Adrian Beltre ages off of 3B and Gallo settles into likely the OF or 1B (note: we’re unlikely to see Brendon in Ranger togs before 2020):
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
“…Davis offers both a high ceiling and a low floor. He already shows some bat speed and feel for hitting, with the promise of more once he packs some much-needed strength onto his skinny 6-foot-4 frame. He also has an overly aggressive approach at the plate and won’t translate his upside into production unless he becomes more disciplined.
Taller than most shortstops, Davis has fringy speed and lacks the quickness typical of the position. He made 20 errors in 80 games at shortstop last year, looking more comfortable at third base. His range is better suited for the hot corner, where he has the hands and arm to become a solid defender, and he has also seen extensive action at second base this year”
Here’s his 2017 stats so far, in both the Dodgers and Rangers systems.
The majority of his at-bats have been in A-ball, with a snap look in High A thanks to a sizzling spring start. In 33 High-A trips to the dish, he slashed .200/.273/.400 but struck out 13 times as well, but that’s against guys generally 3 and 4 years older and more developed. Even in the Midwest and Sally Leagues, he’s 2 years younger than his competition.
I see him as a great pickup for a third man in a blockbuster trade, because if he hits his ceiling, he could be the definition of a “steal of a deal.” We’ll close with a couple of videos to give you a look at him, and a BIG STRETCH comp. (Please understand, I’m comparing mechanics only between these two, not overall ability):
You can see in that video he wraps the bat a bit, which is going to hurt him against guys with that throw smoke with some slow stuff to match. But the funny thing is, the guy that immediately came to mind when I saw that swing? Eric Davis, who was a pretty fine country ballplayer for many years until injuries and cancer battles sapped some of his skill (but never his will).
Here’s Eric the Red in the 1990 World Series:
I love the hand speed for raw power. To see that, with a wood bat, at 20? It’s a nice feature that you really can’t teach, and all the flaws can be coached out.
In short, Brendon is a great pickup at the back end of a blockbuster deal.
And there are still two more intriguing pieces to go. We’ll look at them as we continue the series next time.
The full series
Dodger Blue Bye-Yu: