Yesterday evening, the Phillies finally pulled the trigger on a move that was anticipated since the end of May. All-Star reliever Pat Neshek was traded to the Colorado Rockies for a prospect haul. The Rockies, deeply entrenched in a division battle with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, felt they needed another arm in the back end of the bullpen to bridge the gap from their starters to closer Greg Holland.
Over the course of the last four months, Neshek was sensational for the Phillies, a lone bright spot in a dimly lit bullpen. That is, until Luis Garcia came along. Regardless of Garcia’s emergence, most, including Neshek himself, believed the veteran would be dealt to a contender near the trade deadline. In 43 appearances, Neshek posted a 1.12 ERA over 40.1 innings pitched. Not only did he prevent runs from scoring, but he limited baserunners entirely. Neshek held down a 0.818 WHIP over the first half of the season, good for the third best in his 11 year career. In doing so, he was able to post his best ever homeruns/nine and walks/nine and his third best hits/nineHe was also striking out a career best 10 batters/nine innings pitched.
The success of Neshek brought in a haul of young players from the Rockies. The Phillies acquired shortstop Jose Gomez and RHPs Alejandro Requena and J.D. Hammer. So, let’s meet the newest farm hands.
Jose Gomez comes to the Phillies by way of the Rockies’ Single A affiliate, the Ashville Tourists. Gomez is a 20-year-old shortstop who is considered the prize of the trade, as he’s been ranked as high as the Rockies’ 21st best prospect. Through 81 games this season in Ashville, Gomez is hitting .324 with four homeruns, 33 RBI’s and 18 stolen bases. A .374 on base percentage should peak the interest of many Phillies fans who know that Freddy Galvis and J.P. Crawford aren’t exactly on base aces. At 5’11” and 175 pounds, don’t expect Gomez to be a homerun guy, however. The most he’s hit in a season to this point in his professional career is four. Gomez can play multiple infield positions, including shortstop, third base and second base. He’ll add nice flexibility to either the Clearwater or Lakewood infields, wherever they decide his talents fit best. The scouting report on Gomez is that he’ll be Major League ready by 2020, which may coincide nicely with the organization rebuild plans.
Alejandro Requena is a another 20-year-old and a teammate of Gomez in Ashville. Requena has been used exclusively as a starter this season for the Tourists, having pitched in 19 games thus far. In those 19 games, he’s 8-3 with a 2.85 ERA. Requena has appeared to have something figured out this season, as he was promoted to Single A ball to start the year and is pitching better than last year. He’s dropped his ERA over two full points from a season ago, down from a 4.97. He’s not entirely a power pitcher, having struck out 97 batters over 117 innings this seasons, but he has punched out 21 over his last three starts, including a career high 10 on July 13. The scouting report on Requena so far is that he does surrender a good amount of hits, but limits the damage but walking very few batters. He’s allowed 102 hits over the 117 innings this season, but has walked just 25. At 6’2″, 200 pounds the Venezuelan righty could develop further as he ages, and may become more of a punch out type pitcher.
Finally, there’s J.D. Hammer. Hammer is a big, towering righty who was pitching for the Lancaster Jayhawks before the trade, the High A affiliate of the Rockies. Hammer was drafted in the 24th round by the Rockies in 2016 and has already ascended from Ashville to Lancaster. His numbers were significantly better in Ashville, as he 1.20 ERA in 24 appearances out of the bullpen before getting the bump to High A Lancaster. In 12 games with his now old home, Hammer got hit around a bit to the tune of a 5.25 ERA. The difference, really, was his ability to keep hitters off the bases for free in the lower A ball. In 30 innings, Hammer walked just five hitters. In 12 innings in Lancaster, he allowed nine free passes. Also, his BAA rose from .163 in Ashville to .227 in Lancaster, forcing his WHIP to double at the next level. But, one cannot deny that Hammer is a legitimate strikeout machine. He struckout 47 batters in 30 innings in Ashville and continued his success in Lancaster, punching out 18 over 12 innings. He’ll need to reign the hits in a bit at Clearwater, but there’s alot to like about this kid early in his career.
The haul wasn’t a blow you away package by any means, as Gomez was the highest rated prospect, but it was significantly more than what I anticipated the Phillies to receive understanding that the team was openly looking to shop Neshek. While I’m certainly going to miss the sidearming mechanics of Neshek, he wasn’t of much help to a team that is destined to lose 100 games this season. Had they been contenders, Neshek wasn’t going anywhere, but the team couldn’t turn down the offer that was presented to them. Now let’s hope that these three can aid the rebuild just a bit more and put the Phillies back on top in the years to come.
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports