Garza package holds plenty of promise
The Chicago Cubs received a very fine return in their recent transaction with the Texas Rangers.
The deal included third baseman Mike Olt and right-handed pitchers Justin Grimm and C.J/ Edwards plus as many as two players to be name going to the Cubs for right-handed starter Matt Garza.
The trade responds to needs of both clubs.
Olt is now the second-highest-rated Cubs prospect, behind only shortstop Javier Baez.
The Rangers received quality starter Matt Garza to bolster their rotation. The Cubs obtained additional quality building blocks, with more to be added.
I have scouted Olt on several occasions. I have seen him in the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training.
Olt is a right-handed-hitting, 6-foot-2, 210-pound former first-rounder, selected 49th overall in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Among the offensive leaders in the 2011 Fall League, Olt flashed a loud bat and showed speed on the bases while playing well at third base.
After slugging 28 homers in 354 at-bats to earn a callup to the Rangers in 2012, Olt experienced vision issues at the beginning of this season, which caused him to struggle at the plate. But after correcting the problem, he's beginning to hit the ball with the authority I witnessed in the past.
In a recent game I watched, Olt centered the ball well and looked much more comfortable at the plate. Recognizing, seeing and squaring up and making contact against fastballs had been a slight issue of late, But recently his swing appears on time and compact against high-velocity fastballs.
Olt, 24, has enough power to hit home runs and gap doubles. He has good plate discipline and knows the strike zone. Getting his hands through the ball quicker and realizing what pitch is being thrown will be keys to his continued improvement.
Defensively, Olt has good range to both sides and has the athletic ability and agility to make all the plays. He has a strong and accurate arm. He can also play first base, if needed.
Olt has no speed to speak of. He'll be able to run the bases well, because he knows the game and has good baseball instincts, but he won't be stealing bases.
The Cubs have assigned Olt to Triple-A Iowa.
Justin Grimm, 24, was selected by the Rangers in the fifth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Georgia.
Grimm really rocketed through the Rangers' system and earned a promotion to the parent club in June 2012 at age 23. His strong, dominating performance at Double-A signaled maturity and mound presence to match his solid repertoire. Grimm had a record of 9-3 with an ERA of 1.72. That and his 1.004 WHIP set Grimm on the fast track.
After getting a taste of facing Major League quality hitters in two starts and 14 total innings last year, Grimm has pitched at the Major League level as a rotation starter for the Rangers this season. In 103 innings pitched over parts of this season and last, Grimm has won eight and lost eight at the Major League level. His ERA is 6.73.
The Cubs will find Grimm using a complete repertoire of pitches including a 92-94-mph fastball, a very efficient 78-81-mph curve, an 81-85-mph changeup and a slider that he keeps more in reserve. He has the ability to use his secondary pitches to keep hitters off balance and alter their timing. His fastball sinks well, and he uses it with confidence.
This season, Grimm has been very hittable, yielding an average of 11.7 hits and 3.1 walks per nine innings pitched. As a result, Grimm has a WHIP of 1.652.
The Cubs have assigned him to Triple-A Iowa.
C.J. Edwards is a 6-foot-2, 155-pound, 21-year-old right-handed starter. He may be a real sleeper in the transaction.
This season, Edwards was assigned to Class A Hickory in the Texas League. He had started 18 games and had fashioned a record of 8-2. His ERA at the time of the trade was an outstanding 1.83 with a 1.029 WHIP.
It is crucial to note that Edwards has been a fine starting pitcher since he was selected by Texas in the 48th round of the 2011 First Year Player Draft.
Edwards has a very loose, quick arm. His mechanics are sound.
Edwards throws a fastball that ranges from 90-95 mph. His secondary pitches are a slow curveball and an outstanding changeup. The velocity difference between his fastball and secondary pitches is at least 10 mph.
Edwards did not allow a run in three starts while pitching for the Rangers' Arizona Rookie League team in 2012.
Edwards is becoming well known for a knee-buckling changeup. He is gaining confidence in all his pitches, showing no fear using any them anywhere in the count. At Class A Hickory this season, Edwards struck out 122 while walking 34 in 93 1/3 innings.
Since turning pro, Edwards has gone 13-5, with a 1.68 ERA and a 0.954 WHIP. That's a small sample size, but the statistics are stunning.
The Cubs have assigned Edwards to Class A Advanced Daytona.
While Olt and Grimm are quality prospects, keep an eye on C.J. Edwards as he progresses through the Cubs' organization. I really like his upside.
And at least one more player -- depending on whom the Cubs select -- will join Olt, Grimm and Edwards in the Cubs' organization.
In the end, the Cubs and Rangers made a good old-fashioned baseball trade, exchanging players to meet current and future needs of both clubs.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.