Today is the last day that teams can make trades with playoff implications, and the Yankees and Mariners came together on a small deal, albeit one with a popular Yankee farmhand. Outfielder Ben Gamel just won the International League MVP for his stellar performance in Triple-A Scranton, but the celebration with his teammates will be short-lived.
Gamel is on his way to Seattle in exchange for minor league pitchers Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula. Both of them are far from the majors, but that is the kind of return one would expect for someone who likely profiles as a bench player or second division starter.
Orozco is a right-hander who just turned 19 on August 15th, and is the slightly more well-known of the two pitchers, as he was ranked by MLB.com as the 20th best prospect in the system. (For the record, Gamel was at number 24 with the Yankees.) Orozco was a 14th round pick out of Salpointe High School in Arizona last year, where he was teammates with Yankees prospect Donny Sands. In 20 career Rookie ball games between last year and this year, he has a 3.73 ERA, a 2.6 BB/9, and 11.2 K/9, splitting time between starter and relief roles. Here’s what MLB has to say about his repertoire:
His fluid arm action and clean delivery allow him to pitch to both sides of the plate with his 91-94 mph fastball, while his extension through the ball gives it some sinking action. Orozco's curveball has above-average potential, thrown from an over-the-top slot with good arm speed, creating a 12-to-6 shape with depth, and he also shows good feel for a changeup, giving him the chance for three average-or-better offerings.
Jio Orozco is a really interesting addition for the Yankees. One of very few pitchers in the Mariner system who showed a lick of upside.— Christopher Crawford (@CVCrawfordBP) August 31, 2016
Ah, Jio Orozco. 88-92, will touch as high as 94, lots of effort. Body maxed out. Will flash plus change and average curveball. 40 control.— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) August 31, 2016
De Paula was not ranked among the Mariners’ top 30 prospects, but he is just one month younger than Orozco. He was an international signing, however, joining the organization in 2014 as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. Like Orozco, he has split time in Rookie ball between the rotation and bullpen the last two years, notching a 2.58 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 9.2 K/9 in 25 games. Baseball America had this to say on De Paula when he was signed:
He’s a projection arm with a skinny 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame, easy arm action and a sound delivery, which helps him throws strikes well for his age, and he has feel to spin a curveball.
Both of these pitchers, again, are a long way from making any kind of impact even in Triple-A, but this kind of move makes sense. There is certainly some potential there, and while Gamel was terrific in Triple-A this year, the Yankees have a glut of young outfielders. International League MVPs don’t exactly have glorious major-league resumes, and MLB had Gamel just 24th in the Yankees’ system. This was a “sell high” move to get some intriguing pitchers in the organization while also opening up opportunities for more possible September call-ups on the 40-man roster, like Jake Cave or Jonathan Holder.
Nevertheless, it is a bit of a bummer to see Gamel go. He had an amazing comeback year this season to even put himself in this position of relevance, he is by all accounts a wonderful teammate in the clubhouse, and that hair is still glorious. Happy trails, buddy.
Shortly after the trade for Gamel was completed, the Yankees announced that they had acquired outfielder Eric Young Jr. from the Brewers for cash. He will report to the Triple-A team but seems likely to come up shortly when rosters expand. The son of a big leaguer, Young has hit .247/.314/.328 over seven big-league seasons, but that’s not why the Yankees acquired him. He has 144 big league steals to his name and even more in the minors.
Remember when Rico Noel filled the “designated pinch-runner” role in September of last year that was similar to Terrance Gore on the last couple Royals playoff teams? More likely than not, this will be Young’s role when he is recalled. He can fly, and the team doesn’t need to call up Jorge Mateo for such a minor role just yet.