Analyzing prospects in Greinke trade
Odorizzi, Jeffress highly touted pitchers; Cain a rising star
The buzz may have been about the Brewers adding Zack Greinke to the top of their rotation (and Yuniesky Betancourt to the infield), but the Royals got three exciting prospects, along with young shortstop Alcides Escobar, in return. Here's some more information on Jake Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP: One scout who saw Odorizzi, the Brewers' supplemental first-round pick (No. 32 overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, in the Midwest League this season, said he was the best pitching prospect he'd seen all summer. The 6-foot-2 right-hander, who was taken out of the Illinois high school ranks, was the Brewers' top pitching prospect.
Brought along slowly, Odorizzi debut in the rookie-level Arizona League in the summer after he was drafted. In 2009, he started the year in extended Spring Training before moving up to the rookie-level Pioneer League. He made his full-season debut with Wisconsin, making the Midwest League All-Star team and finishing with a 7-3 record, 3.43 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 120 2/3 innings. The 20-year-old finished third in the Brewers' organization with a 3.43 ERA and third in strikeouts. He was ninth in the Midwest League in ERA, sixth in K's and fourth in WHIP. Hitters managed just a .220 average against him.
Scouts see Odorizzi as having top-of-the-rotation starter-type stuff. He throws a good fastball up to 95 mph, and pitches at 91-93 comfortably. It comes with plenty of sink. He complements it with an outstanding curve, which is inconsistent, but shows as a plus pitch at times. He even has a slider, which was an above-average to plus pitch at times. His changeup is an average offering right now. He needs to find more consistency with his stuff and command, but his combination of four pitches, feel for pitching and makeup give him the upside to be a No. 2-type starter in the future. When it all comes together for him, he can be as dominant as any pitching prospect in baseball, with some thinking perhaps he can be in the future what Greinke is now.
Jeremy Jeffress, RHP: There are few pitchers with more life in their arms than Jeffress, the Brewers' first-round pick (No. 16 overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He can crank his fastball up around the 100-mph range, and routinely throws 97-98. Along with the plus fastball, he's got a plus curve, a 76-mph hard-downer breaking ball. In the past, he's had a changeup, typically below-average, but now that he's made the switch to a relief role, he can focus on his two plus offerings.
Jeffress had been working as a starter, but made the move to the bullpen in 2010, a role most saw as more suitable for him, given his power stuff and command issues. He made 24 relief outings in the Minors this past season, finishing with a 2.23 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings. He held hitters to a measly .157 batting average against, leading to his first callup to the big leagues. He appeared in 10 games for the Brewers, allowing just three earned runs on eight hits while striking out eight and walking six.
Jeffress has had his share of off-field problems, testing positive three times for a "drug of abuse," which he admitted to being marijuana. He was suspended twice, once for 50 games and once for 100. But he returned in 2010 and seemed to stay out of trouble, with Trevor Hoffman reportedly taking the young right-hander under his wing, making the Royals more comfortable having him included in the deal.
Lorenzo Cain, OF: Cain is a premium athlete who plays a premium position in center field. While he was drafted back in 2004 in the 17th round and will be 25 next April, in many ways he's much younger in baseball years. That's because Cain didn't start his baseball career until later than most, playing his sophomore year of high school for the first time.
He's come a long way since then, making his Major League debut this past season. He's shown a ability to hit for average (.291 in his Minor League career, .317 in 2010) and get on base (.366), as well as steal bases (124 in his career, 26 out of 29 in 2010). He's got good bat speed and altheticism, along with off-the-charts makeup. His speed works well on both sides of the ball; Cain is a plus defender in center field. Along with Escobar, then, the Royals acquired two very strong gloves up the middle at premium positions.