Pre-Deadline Stock Up, Stock Down on MLB's Top 10 Prospect Trade Chips

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterJuly 28, 2014

Pre-Deadline Stock Up, Stock Down on MLB's Top 10 Prospect Trade Chips

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    With the 2014 trade deadline set to expire Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, teams are busily exploring the market with the hope of adding the final piece needed for a run at the postseason.

    While several teams have been active on the trade front so far, there will likely be a flurry of deals that transpire over the coming week. However, only a few organizations have the prospects and overall organizational depth needed to make an impact trade.

    That said, with so many teams still in the mix for a playoff berth this season, it’s a safe bet that more prospect-based trades will take place in the coming days.

    So, in anticipation of the July 31 trade deadline, here’s a look a baseball’s top 10 prospect trade chips for the week ahead.

10. D.J. Peterson, 3B/1B, Seattle Mariners

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Minors (A+/AA): .318/.375/.586, 23 HR, 29 2B, 89 RBI, 33 BB, 85 K (91 G)

     

    Overview

    Regarded as the most advanced college hitter in the 2013 draft class, D.J. Peterson’s mature approach and potential for plus hit and power tools already have him moving quickly through the Mariners’ system.

    The 22-year-old was promoted to Double-A Jackson in late June after posting a .997 OPS with 18 home runs and 73 RBI in 65 games at High-A High Desert. Meanwhile, the challenges associated with the more advanced level haven’t cut into Peterson’s production, as he’s batted .297/.357/.505 with five home runs, six doubles and 16 RBI in 26 games since arriving at Jackson.

    The Mariners would benefit from adding a starting pitcher or power bat before the trade deadline, but it makes little sense for the organization to offer Peterson in return, as he’s roughly a year away from making Justin Smoak (or whomever the Mariners are employing at first base at that point) more expendable than he is already.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    4-for-18 (.250), HR, 2B, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K (6 G)

     

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9. Jose Peraza, 2B, Atlanta Braves

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Minors (A+/AA): .349/.374/.455, 73 R, 2 HR, 19 2B, 10 3B, 55 SB, 15 BB, 45 K (98 G)

     

    Overview

    Jose Peraza, 20, received a well-deserved promotion to Double-A Mississippi in mid-June after mastering the High-A Carolina League with a .342/.365/.454 batting line, 22 extra-base hits and 35 steals in only 66 games. The speedy second baseman has been unaffected by the promotion, as he’s batting a robust .364/.390/.457 with nine extra-base hits and 13 steals through 32 games at the more advanced level.

    In general, Peraza has been unreal this year. More importantly, he’s proven that he won’t need much more time in the minor leagues. The 20-year-old second baseman currently leads the minors with 148 hits through 98 games.

    With Tommy La Stella more than holding his own in the major leagues, the Braves might consider cashing in on Peraza’s stock right now by dealing him before the trade deadline. However, given his performance this season, it’s safe to say that moving him in the coming week won’t be an easy decision.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    12-for-30 (.400), 9 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 10 SB, 1 BB, 4 K (7 G)

     

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8. Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Minors (A+/AA): .321/.372/.471, 9 HR, 21 2B, 55 RBI, 29 BB, 51 K (95 G) 

     

    Overview

    Moved up to High-A Bradenton for his 2014 campaign, Bell, 21, made offensive strides in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, hitting for a high average while showing improved power and handling the strike zone.

    The switch-hitter batted .335/.384/.502 with nine home runs, 20 doubles and 53 RBI in 84 games at High-A Bradenton, which prompted the Pirates to promote Bell to Double-A Altoona following his appearance in the All-Star Futures Game.

    Bell has batted just .209/.277/.233 with one extra-base hit in 11 games since arriving at Double-A, but his eight strikeouts compared to four walks during that span suggests he hasn’t been overmatched and likely just needs some time to adjust to the more advanced pitching.

    With a major league outfield comprised of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco, the Pirates can afford to dangle Bell as trade bait over the next couple days, as he’s unlikely to ever play on an everyday basis over one of the aforementioned players.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    7-for-29 (.241), 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K (7 games) 

     

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7. Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    2014 Stats

    Minors (A+/AA): 8-1, 91.1 IP, 2.46 ERA, .218 BAA, 31 BB, 112 K (19 GS)

     

    Overview

    Daniel Norris quietly has emerged as one the game’s better left-handed pitching prospects this year thanks to a mechanical adjustment he made late last season.

    The 21-year-old left-hander opened the season with a dominant showing at High-A Dunedin, as he posted a 1.22 ERA and 76-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 66.1 innings. However, Norris has been challenged at Double-A New Hampshire following a promotion in mid-June, as he’s pitched to a 5.76 ERA and 36-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 innings (six starts).

    The southpaw’s latest outing on July 24 was easily his best at the more advanced level, as Norris allowed two hits and four walks in five scoreless innings while striking out six batters.

    With Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez now in the major leagues, Norris represents the Blue Jays’ top trade chip and should fetch a solid return—whether it be an everyday third baseman or viable back-end starter—given his proximity to the majors and potential to pitch in the middle or front of a starting rotation.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    1-0, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K (1 GS) 

     

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6. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Minors (AAA): .322/.455/.592, 72 R, 22 HR, 14 2B, 25 SB, 77 BB, 110 K (90 G)

     

    Overview

    Pederson has fully recovered from a separated shoulder in late June and is currently enjoying his best month of the season since April, with a .340/.533/.717 batting line, nine extra-base hits, five steals and a 15-20 K/BB ratio in 16 games.

    While Pederson could be traded over the next couple days—but only if it involves a major piece such as David Price or Jon Lester—manager Don Mattingly has already stated (via Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com) that he believes the 22-year-old is the team’s best long-term defensive center fielder.

    However, there’s still concern about his strikeout rate at Triple-A Albuquerque this season, which seems to be the primary reason—as well as the presence of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford—Pederson is yet to debut in the major leagues.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    6-for-23 (.261), 6 R, 3 HR, 2B, 7 RBI, 9 BB, 6 K (7 games)

     

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5. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Minors (A+): 1-1, 59.1 IP, 3.03 ERA, .211 BAA, 28 BB, 67 K (19 G/15 GS)

     

    Overview

    Julio Urias emerged as a can’t-miss prospect last season as a 16-year-old at Low-A Great Lakes, as he excelled against significantly older hitters in a full-season league.

    This season, the 17-year-old has further improved his prospect stock with another outstanding performance against advanced competition, this time at High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Despite pitching in the hitter-friendly California League and having his workload limited by the organization, Urias has managed to hold opposing hitters to a paltry .211 batting average while missing well over a bat per inning (10.2 K/9).

    As is the case with future teammates Corey Seager and Joc Pederson, the Dodgers likely will need to be blown away by an offer to part with the promising left-hander. There’s a realistic chance Urias will be pitching in the major leagues before his 20th birthday, so expect the Dodgers only to include him as a part of a blockbuster deal.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 6 K (1 GS) 

     

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4. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Minors (A+/AA): .353/.410/.630, 18 HR, 37 2B, 71 RBI, 31 BB, 84 K (86 games)

     

    Overview

    After struggling at High-A Rancho Cucamonga during the final month of the 2013 regular season, Corey Seager quickly mastered the California League in his second tour this season, as the 20-year-old posted a 1.044 OPS with 18 home runs, 34 doubles and 207 total bases in 80 games.

    The 20-year-old’s monster production resulted in a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga last week, where he’s batted .375/.400/.583 with four extra-base hits and hit safely in each of his first six contests.

    Seager’s impressive bat gives him the upside of a first-division shortstop or third baseman at his maturity. Therefore, the Dodgers would need a substantial return to consider moving their top prospect before the deadline.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    8-for-18 (.444), 5 R, 3 2B, BB, 4 K

     

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3. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    2014 Stats

    Minors (A): 6-2, 77.0 IP, 2.34 ERA, .186 BAA, 25 BB, 88 K (16 GS)

     

    Overview

    The Nationals have managed Lucas Giolito’s workload this season as he continues to work back from Tommy John surgery in late 2012, but it hasn’t prevented the 20-year-old right-hander from absolutely dominating hitters in the South Atlantic League.

    Giolito has been excellent over his last five starts, with a 4-0 record, 1.91 ERA and 36-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28.1 innings, and he’s held opposing batters to a .186 average and .499 OPS during that span.

    Furthermore, Giolito's latest outing on July 25 was one of his best of the season, as the right-hander allowed just one hit and stuck out seven batters over six shutout innings.

    The Nationals are unlikely to trade Giolito before the deadline, as he possesses arguably the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect in the game. With that being said, however, there’s still a chance they make him available if the right deal—likely one involving an All-Star-caliber player—comes their way.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    1-0, 6.0 IP, H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (1 GS)

     

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2. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    2014 Stats

    Minors (A+/AA/AAA): 5-1. 50.0 IP, 3.24 ERA, .212 BAA, 16 BB, 48 K (10 GS)

    MLB (3 GS): 1-2, 15.0 IP, 3.60 ERA, .176 BAA, 13 BB, 14 K 

     

    Overview

    A shoulder injury that surfaced during spring training prevented Walker from making his season debut with the Mariners until June 23. However, now fully healthy, the 21-year-old right-hander simply is focused on harnessing his stuff and working deep into games.

    Even though Walker has bounced between Triple-A Tacoma and the major leagues this month as a result of the Mariners needing to adjust their starting rotation, he’s looked good over his last two starts, allowing three runs on four hits in nine innings. Walker also struck out eight during that span, which would be more impressive if he hadn’t also issued 11 walks.

    Walker was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma after walking six batters over five innings in his latest outing (July 23). Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon spoke about the decision after Walker’s start (via MLB.com):

    Pitching at this level is hard enough, but when you're starting to think about mechanical things, it's not just a good combination. He's got to get to the point where everything's happening naturally for him. He's a very talented individual, and he's going to be alright, and he's going to be alright in the very near future.

    Walker represents a big piece of Seattle's future, as he's long been viewed as a potential No. 2 or No. 3 starter behind Felix Hernandez. However, given the organization's success this season as well as its chances of reaching the postseason, there's a realistic chance Walker is offered as part of a major deal prior to the trade deadline.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    0-1, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 5 K (1 start) 

     

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1. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Minors (AAA): .318/.370/.502, 8 HR, 18 2B, 49 RBI, 19 BB, 31 K (62 G)

    MLB: .209/.240/.275, HR, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 4 BB, 14 K (30 G)

     

    Overview

    Taveras was recalled from the minor leagues for the second time this season in late June, but unfortunately his latest stint hasn't gone any better than his first tour.

    While he was expected to receive increased playing time in right field following the promotion, the 22-year-old Taveras has continued to share time with Allen Craig, which in turn has seemingly prevented both players from settling in at the plate.

    Since the beginning of July, Taveras has started 13 times and appeared in six games off the bench. Since July 11, the left-handed hitting outfielder has started only five games.

    Manager Mike Matheny spoke about managing Taveras’ playing time in the major leagues (via MLB.com):

    "I think there are benefits to being here," Matheny said when asked about how he's managing playing time for the 22-year-old outfielder. "There are other times where you do have players who need playing time. I don't necessarily think that is where Oscar is right now. We need to get him locked in right now, and hopefully that can happen with opportunities, whether it's as a pinch-hitter or when he gets starts. He is going to get opportunities."

    Well, Taveras has started to show signs of life at the plate over the last week, with four hits in 12 at-bats including a pinch-hit RBI single on July 25 against the Cubs. And for what it’s worth, Taveras now has hit safely in four out of his last five games.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    4-for-12 (.333), RBI

     

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