Top 12 prospects traded so far this offseason topped by Padres arm, Yankees infielder

December 21, 2023

While in many ways the offseason has been slow, we have seen the best free agent ever sign a record deal (Shohei Ohtani, of course), three other Top 10 free agents sign for a total of more than $325 million, and there have been a number of trades, including the one that sent Juan Soto to the New York Yankees.

In several of those transactions prospects have changed organizations.

Here is Joe Doyle’s Top 12 prospects traded so far this winter.

1. Drew Thorpe, RHP — San Diego Padres

Thorpe was the headliner prospect in the deal for Juan Soto and enters 2023 with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, ordinary slider and cutter, but a plus changeup. Thorpe has a shot to get to the majors in some role in 2024.

He’s likely to start 2024 at Double-A San Antonio, but could get a taste of the big leagues this summer. Thorpe has a chance to develop into a strong No. 3 arm in any rotation, especially if he can squeeze even the slightest bit more value out of his fastball. — Joe Doyle

2. Jorbit Vivas, 2B — New York Yankees

Vivas was traded to the Yankees in a 40-man roster-manipulating deal that sent No. 3 on this list to L.A. Vivas, 23 in March, projects to hit for average and take some walks, but has yet to show the kind of strength or bat speed to suggest more than utility-level power. He may be big-league ready soon, however, and there is a shortage of capable second baseman in free agency and the trade market, though he’s probably a fringe-average option there at present.

3. Trey Sweeney, SS — Los Angeles Dodgers

Sweeney, a very intriguing left-handed hitting infielder who has worked his way into a shot to play shortstop in the majors. There’s playable power to go with a track record of higher OBPs due to his ability to work walks, but the instincts are off the charts here in all facets, helping the average athleticism play up.

4. Richard Fitts, RHP — Boston Red Sox

Fitts was the best prospect to land in Boston in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo and enters 2024 with a chance to break into the majors.

Fitts is a sturdy, bulldog-framed hurler with obvious starter traits. He’s seen marked improvement every year going back to his draft year in 2021. Once labeled a future first-round pick, he fell to the sixth round that year after around after being hit a good bit at Auburn. — Joe Doyle

There’s legitimate value in his 92-95 mph fastball, and the slider promises to miss bats in the big leagues.

5. Andrew Lindsey, RHP — Tampa Bay Rays

Lindsey, 24, a 5th-round pick of the Miami Marlins in July, touches the upper-90s, and may just be hitting his developmental stride, considering his only live action in 2022 came in three appearances in a summer league and he threw just over 150 total frames in college.

The Rays are likely to get Lindsey to go after hitter more often with his hard slider, which fits his current profile as a reliever.

6. Cole Phillips, RHP — Seattle Mariners Future Stars Series

Phillips, who has yet to throw a pitch as a pro due to UCL surgery and a delayed reovery, was a first-round talent in 2022 thanks to a mid-90s fastball often threatening triple digits. There’s an average slider in there with long-term promise and as a prep showed some changeup feel.

The package is prototypical — arm strength, chance at swing-and-miss breaker,and projectable command and changeup — but he has to get on the mound and perform. Jake Arrieta is my favorite comp for Phillips.

7. Nicholas Judice, RHP — Boston Red Sox

The 6-foot-8 Judice saw an increase in stuff prior to the draft, including a mid-90s four-seamer giving him hope for some fastball value despite a lack of life, and a power slider thrown from a deceptive arm slot.

There’s a lot of reliever risk here, but in such a role he carries high-leverage potential.

8. Erick Lara, SS – Tampa Bay Ray

The 17-year-old Lara may be one of the more underrated prospects to get moved this winter to date, probably because he’s just a kid and has just 154 professional plate appearances.

But the lefty-swinging shortstop has projectable tools, including bat speed for long-term power and advanced strike zone judgment.

9. Coleman Crow, RHP — Milwaukee Brewers

Crow’s 2023 ended early after some elbow soreness in May, but it’s a 55-grade four-seam fastball, fringe-average slider with some projection, and a two-plane curveball with a real shot to be plus and offer swing-and-miss value.

His fastball command and lack of ideal size suggest reliever, and his elbow injury doesn’t help that projection, but we’ve seen such arms turn into wipeout arms in the late innings, including Trevor Rosenthal.

10. Oliver Dunn, 2B — Milwaukee Brewers

Despite being an 11th-round draft pick (2019), Dunn performed in a large sample in Double-A (.271/.396/.506, 21 HR) and brings above-average speed and some second-base ability. But it’s his 55-grade power, mature approach and proximity that’s most interesting.

11. Hendry Mendez, OF — Philadelphia Phillies

Mendez, traded for Dunn, is a 20-year-old outfielder with some hand speed but swing concerns, offers at least average raw power on which to dream alongside a chance to hit .300 or better. His hand-eye is tremendous and at a young age in the lower minors has shown the ability to avoid the chase, put the ball in play, amd draw walks.

He’s unlikely to offer centerfield capability, so the watch party is eyeing the power development.

12. Blake Hunt, C — Seattle Mariners

Hunt, now 25, is a strong, sturdy backstop with a lot of average grades, including receiving, framing, and blocking, His arm is above-average, however, and he’s shown above-average game power at the plate through his time in Triple-A a year ago.

Scouts typically like his chances to keep getting better in all areas, particular with his defense, thanks to his athleticism, and an adjustment has unlocked a more fluid, free swing that may allow him to pair more ‘hit’ to go with the pop.

Jason A. Churchill
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