The Yankees traded Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians for a haul made up of Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen. As beloved as Miller was amongst Yankees fans, this was a great deal for the team to make. Frazier is a legit top prospect in baseball and Sheffield has a lot of potential.
It’s easy for us to judge the trade from here, but we don’t know that much about the players we received. I asked Brian Hemminger of Let’s Go Tribe, the SB Nation Cleveland Indians blog, how he felt about the deal and the players involved.
What do you think of this trade overall?
I love Andrew Miller; the Indians have had issues with the back end of their bullpen and he's definitely going to plug a big hole in the team, perhaps giving them a chance to contend against dangerous left-centric lineups in the playoffs like Baltimore, and it's great that he'll be around for more than just this season.
I'm not crazy about what they had to give up for him, whether or not he's the best reliever in the game. The Tribe has a deep farm system, but they gave up four serious future major league contributors for one great player. We'll see how this pans out over time, but I felt they didn't need to send a fourth player.
What can we expect from Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield going forward?
Clint Frazier is an absolute animal. He has the most majestic long, curly red hair you've ever seen and that will quickly earn him some fun nicknames with Yankees fans.
He's built like a tank, but has great speed. He's a true five-tool talent with speed, a great arm, excellent defense that can play all positions–but will likely settle in a corner outfield slot–an ability to make hard contact with his super quick bat speed, and he definitely has high power potential. There's a reason he's now your highest-rated prospect.
He's also the most competitive player I've ever seen. That's a great quality to have in a budding prospect.
Justus Sheffield is a bit more of a work in progress, but is also very talented. Yes, he's short at 5'10, but he can still throw low-90s as a southpaw at 20 years old and is developing quite nicely. Other than Mike Clevinger, he was probably the next closest starter in the Indians system who projected to be better than a #5. I can see him being a #3 starter some day as long as he continues progressing.
He made an adjustment around the All-Star break for High-A (he was an All-Star) and he's really ramped up his strikeouts. You never know with pitching prospects, but he's definitely one of the Indians' best at this point.
When do you think we will see them in the majors?
Frazier was just promoted to Triple-A and while he could get a cup of coffee this September, his most likely arrival time is next season. Depending on the need for outfield help from the Yankees, they might want to wait until a couple weeks into the season so they can have an extra year of team control.
Sheffield will almost certainly start next season in Double-A, and as long as he handles the jump in competition well, he could be ready for his major league debut by the start of the 2018 season.
What are their greatest strengths so far in their careers?
With Frazier, it's been his competitive drive. He has all the tools to be a future star, but some players don't harness their talent due to lack of work ethic. He definitely has the work ethic due to his hyper-competitiveness. He keeps track of all the prospects ranked near him or above him and he's always trying to improve his game to surpass them.
Sheffield appears to be a tremendous teammate, as evidenced by the ridiculous amount of tweets from Tribe prospects throughout the system wishing him well on his new journey. I'm not sure how much that affects things on the field, but it's always nice to have a pitcher that everyone on the team wants to rally behind.
Are there any weaknesses with either one of them that we should be looking out for?
I would have said Frazier's strikeout rate was a weakness, but he's clearly put in the time to improve it. He was at 31% the season he got drafted and played in the Arizona Rookie League and he's managed to drop his strikeout rate every season since, including this past season when he made the most difficult jump in all of the minor leagues, High-A to Double-A.
With Sheffield, immaturity might be an issue. He was arrested in the January of 2015 for breaking into the house of a man he thought had been messing around with his girl and admitted he had been drinking afterwards. He's stayed out of trouble since, however.
In regards to baseball weaknesses, he's still working on getting deeper into games. As of right now, you can expect a strong outing from him, but it's very rare to see him last more than six innings. Out of 49 career games started in the minors, he's only pitched into the seventh inning three times and he's never actually gone seven full innings in a game. Granted, he's still just 20 years old so he has time to work on that.
Can you give us some insight on what to expect from Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen as well?
These two might be the "other guys" according to the fans, but Heller and Feyereisen were absolute steals. Ben Heller is the best bullpen arm in the Indians system. I've read he can hit 100 mph, but I've only ever seen him get up to 97 in person. He blows hitters away and is ready to roll right now. He destroyed Double-A hitters at the beginning of the year as the closer for Akron and has really settled in as a late game arm for the Triple-A team in the last month.
J.P. Feyereisen, also a late game bullpen prospect, is good enough to be promoted to Triple-A right now. While it would be a bit premature to promote him to the majors this season, he's definitely capable of adding bullpen depth after the Yankees traded Chapman and Miller. I foresee him making his MLB debut in 2017. He started his MiLB career with an incredible 31 scoreless innings streak which allowed him to accelerate very quickly through the Indians system.
Both Heller and Feyereisen hail from Wisconsin and they're good friends. Many Indians fans expected them to be future 8th and 9th inning battery-mates for the Tribe. I think you'll be very happy with both of these young bullpen arms.
How do you pronounce Feyereisen anyway?
I had a very nice interview with JP Feyereisen just over a month ago and got to the bottom of this. It's pronounced "Fire - rise - en"
While the deal certainly helped Cleveland now, it definitely hurts their future now that they have lost a future starting outfielder, mid-rotation pitcher, and two backend relievers. Hopefully they can reach their potential with the Yankees and make this deal work out even more in the Yankees’ favor.