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Orioles trade targets: Surveying the Yankees farm system

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The Yankees are the latest team to join the Manny Machado derby, with possible interest in getting other Orioles as well. Who should the O’s be looking for in their farm system?

Atlanta Braves v New York Yankees
Jonathan Loaisiga - aka Johnny Lasagna - is a young Yankees pitcher the Orioles might want and the Yankees probably won’t trade.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Some time in the next 20 days, the Orioles are going to trade Manny Machado. They have no choice but to do this unless they want to settle for one measly compensation pick in next June’s draft. Their hopes of avoiding long years in the doldrums depend on getting more numerous and more certain prospects than that.

The Yankees are the latest team to be rumored to be involved for the chase for Machado. They could use him because he’s a great player and they will need all the help they can get to finish the season ahead of the Red Sox and avoid the wild card game. A trade with the Bronx Bombers sounds weird, but then, the Orioles are 25-66. Things got weird a while ago to get here.

In an effort to avoid a “Who the heck are these guys?” reaction to a trade, I’ve been surveying the farm systems of some of the possible suitors to see who the O’s could potentially look to receive back. So far, that tour has gone through Arizona, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee. Now it’s time to look at New York.

The Yankees farm system doesn’t look as strong as it did a year ago. They have graduated top prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar to MLB. Both, by the way, are infielders, which is one thing that makes this trade idea a bit of a head-scratcher to discuss.

Still, there are some players there who might help the O’s be better in the future, if they can pry the right ones loose. Reportedly, the Yankees would explore a bigger deal that included players such as Zach Britton or Kevin Gausman. That would certainly make for a newsworthy trade.

Prospects are listed according to their rankings in the most recent MLB Pipeline rank of the Yankees system. Additional information is drawn from Keith Law’s preseason prospect rankings and Fangraphs late March look at the Yankees system.

#1 - OF Estevan Florial

2018 stats, High-A: .246/.353/.343 in 36 G, 1 HR, 47 K, 21 BB, 5 SB

Currently on the disabled list due to having surgery on his hamate bone. Florial, 20, was involved in one of those fake name controversies before ending up signing with the Yankees. The MLB Pipeline folks are big believers in his potential, ranking him 37th in their current list, while he was a “just missed the top 100” player for Law.

Everyone agrees he has potential for speed, power, and arm strength. Less certain is whether he’ll be able to recognize pitches well enough to make good contact and get to MLB. High ceiling but not a lot of certainty. He had a .372 OBP across two levels last year but also struck out 148 times in 110 games. That’s a harder act to pull off when you get out of A-ball.

#2 - LHP Justus Sheffield

2018 stats, Double-A/Triple-A: 16 G, 15 GS, 85 IP, 95 K, 38 BB

Sheffield, a late first round pick in 2014, was part of the Yankees trade return when they briefly gave up Andrew Miller. Given that their top need is starting pitching, I’m not sure at a glance why they haven’t just called this dude up rather than trading for J.A. Happ or Cole Hamels or whoever.

Law ranked Sheffield as the #16 prospect in the game before the season, even higher than Pipeline putting him at #39 now. He’s 5’11” or 6’0” depending on which place you look, which is a little short for both pitchers and stormtroopers, but it’s tough to argue with his results. The walk rate is on the high side, but it could be worse. Pipeline sees “potential for three plus pitches” and a no. 3 starter. Sign me up.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported just this morning that Sheffield is what the O’s would want to trade Machado to the Yankees. He added that there’s “skepticism” about Sheffield being traded for a two-month rental.

#3 - RHP Albert Abreu

2018 stats, High-A: 10 GS, 48.1 IP, 4.28 ERA, 52 K, 23 BB

Currently on the minor league disabled list. A cursory Googling did not reveal why he has not pitched since June 28. Abreu is already on the 40-man roster - the Yankees had to add him since he was an amateur signing back in 2013. He also had the bad luck to need an appendectomy in spring training. They got him by trading Brian McCann. The Yankees are annoying.

As for Abreu, here’s Fangraphs: “He sits 95-98 and touches 100 mph with his fastball while also showing an occasionally plus breaking ball and plus-plus changeup. He’s an excellent candidate for multi-inning relief, at least, and could be much more if his command develops.”

#4 - RHP Chance Adams

2018 stats, Triple-A: 16 GS, 74.2 IP, 4.82 ERA, 79 K, 37 BB

There are varied opinions on the 2015 fifth round pick. Law practically dismisses him outright even as he rates him 9th-best in the Yankees system: “no real out pitch, fringy control and a lack of plane or life on his fastball.” Fangraphs sees the possibility for enough command of three pitches to start and at least be a back end guy. If the Orioles can trade for or develop their own back end guys then they don’t need to keep signing the Alex Cobbs of the world.

Turning 24 next month, so Adams is getting to the point where you don’t want to keep making excuses for why he hasn’t gotten better.

#5 - RHP Luis Medina

2018 stats, Rookie: 4 GS, 9.1 IP, 6.75 ERA, 7 K, 15 BB

When you get a guy who is 19 years old and can throw 102 miles per hour, the possibility for the future of that player will always seem exciting. If he can manage to control that velocity with multiple off-speed pitches available, he will be good. Right now, it seems that he can’t control much of anything.

#6 - RHP Freicer Perez

2018 stats, High-A: 6 GS, 25 IP, 7.20 ERA, 20 K, 19 BB

Currently on the minor league disabled list and has not pitched in a game since early May due to what is apparently shoulder inflammation. This guy is 6’8”! And the Yankees signed him out of the Dominican Republic for just $10,000. Perez made a bit of a prospect jump with his 117 strikeouts and 45 walks in 123.2 innings in Low-A last season, but the solid strikeout/walk rate isn’t on display this year, perhaps because of that shoulder inflammation.

#7 - RHP Domingo Acevedo

2018 stats, Double-A: 10 G, 7 GS, 44 IP, 2.66 ERA, 33 K, 14 BB

Signed for a mere $7,500. It cannot be said enough how many opportunities the Orioles miss out on internationally. Acevedo is listed at 6’7” and 250 pounds, so again, that’s a big dude. Although he’s still gotten some starts this year, there seems to be some general agreement that he’s headed for the bullpen, with Law noting a similarity in build and arsenal to Dellin Betances.

#8 - SS/2B Thairo Estrada

2018 stats, High-A/Triple-A: .192/.210/.231 in 18 G, 17 K, 0 BB

Signed out of Venezuela for $49,000. Yeah. Estrada was in the news this past offseason because he was shot in the hip during a robbery attempt in his native Venezuela. That led to his starting the season on the disabled list, with a short-lived return. He hasn’t played since May 8.

A look at his Double-A performance from last season makes the appeal of the 22-year-old more apparent, with a .301/.353/.392 batting line. Good average, not so good power. This year is something of a loss for his development.

#9 - RHP Dillon Tate

2018 stats, Double-A: 15 GS, 82.2 IP, 3.38 ERA, 75 K, 25 BB

The fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft was shipped to the Yankees when they traded Carlos Beltran to the Rangers. He was something of a busted prospect and the Yankees have revived him a bit, although he’s 24 and at Double-A, so it’s time for him to get it going. He’ll have his most ever professional innings in a season with his next start: Durability is a concern and if he can’t get enough strikeouts as a starter, his future may be as a reliever.

#10 - RHP Matt Sauer

2018 stats, Short season-A: 4 GS, 21.1 IP, 2.11 ERA, 13 K, 6 BB

Sauer was the Yankees second round pick last year. The Yankees gave him first round money but all of Pipeline, Law, and Fangraphs note that many teams stayed away due to “a violent delivery with a head whack and crossfire action.” You don’t want to hear that stuff about a pitching prospect; it won’t work for most. Time will tell if the Yankees were correct and other teams were wrong about him. Long way to go from Staten Island to MLB.

#11 - RHP Clarke Schmidt

2018 stats: Has not pitched above the Gulf Coast League

The Yankees drafted Schmidt last year even though he had Tommy John surgery last April. This let them get Schmidt underslot and sign the last guy, Sauer. Although it’s been 15 months since the surgery, Schmidt still isn’t back to pitching in organized games at an appropriate level for his college talent.

#12 - RHP Jonathan Loaisiga

2018 stats, High-A/Double-A: 10 GS, 45 IP, 3.00 ERA, 58 K, 4 BB

The 23-year-old Nicaraguan who comes with the nickname “Johnny Lasagna” is another Yankees reclamation project. At 5’11” and 165 pounds listed, he certainly doesn’t look like every other pitcher, and the slight frame means a bullpen future will always be whispered about him.

The Yankees called him up for four big league starts earlier in the year, where Loaisiga posted a 3.00 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 8 walks in 18 innings. Baseball needs a Johnny Lasagna.

#13 - RHP Trevor Stephan

2018 stats, High-A/Double-A: 15 GS, 78.2 IP, 3.55 ERA, 88 K, 23 BB

Lost in that crude comparison is that his eight Double-A starts had a much higher 5.26 ERA. Their third round pick last year had a strong debut and now will have to overcome that difficulty. Law’s concern was whether Stephan would be able to keep his best stuff through a full season: he tired in the only season where he was a college starting pitcher.

#14 - RHP Deivi Garcia

2018 stats, High-A/Low-A: 5 GS, 24.2 IP, 3.28 ERA, 38 K, 5 BB

This is the first year in full season ball for Garcia, 19, although he only started pitching in early June, so it won’t be a full season regardless. He struck out 85 batters in 60 innings across three different rookie leagues last season. Another short guy for a pitcher: He’s just 5’10”. The same question repeats: Can he start? He’ll keep starting until it turns out that he can’t.

#15 - RHP Cody Carroll

2018 stats, Triple-A: 28 G, 37.2 IP, 2.63 ERA, 47 K, 14 BB

There’s no question about whether Carroll will stick as a starter because the 6’5” righty has almost exclusively been a reliever since being drafted in 2015. I would like for the Orioles to not trade for any 25-year-old relievers for Manny Machado.

**

I’m not going to believe the Orioles are actually going to trade Machado to the Yankees until the moment it happens, but it would sure be interesting. In addition to the prospects listed above, blocked young outfielder Clint Frazier might be the kind of player the O’s would try to get. He’s not a prospect any more but is just 23 and has batted .312/.391/.577 in 47 Triple-A games this year.

There are a lot of hurt guys in this system. There are also some interesting names. Interesting enough to make this the most appealing Machado destination? I guess that depends on what everyone else is offering.