The Arizona Diamondbacks swung a deal Wednesday, sending right-handed pitcher Ian Kennedy to the San Diego Padres in exchange for lefty reliever Joe Thatcher, minor league reliever Matt Stites and a 2014 draft pick.
D-backs fans know about Thatcher — he’s pitched in 40 games against Arizona during his seven-year career.
But what about this Stites kid?
The 23-year-old pitched at the University of Missouri and was a 17th round pick of the Padres in 2011. Since then, he’s thrived in San Diego’s minor league system, going 8-2 with a 1.53 ERA in 114 relief appearances.
D-backs GM Kevin Towers likes pitchers who throw strikes, and Stites fits the bill. While pitching at Single-A Fort Wayne in 2012, Stites walked only three of the 175 batters he faced in 42 games. This season, at Double-A San Antonio, he had walked only eight batters in 52.0 innings as the Missions’ closer.
Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has great things to say about Stites.
Stites has as much upside as just about any relief prospect in the high minors, and he’s a fast-riser who pitched in the Arizona Fall League last year and jumped to Double-A this year.
As far as his scouting report, Eddy offers this on the newest D-backs minor leaguer.
Stites generates double-plus velocity (94-98 mph) from an undersized, 5-foot-11 frame, working both sides of the plate with late life. He doubles up his fastball with an outstanding high-80s curveball that features late biting action. Stites led the Texas League with 14 saves at the time of the trade, and he ranked among the top TL relievers with a .194 opponent average, unintentional walk rate of 1.2 per nine innings and 0.87 WHIP.
Here’s what some others are saying about Stites:
Towers said minor league reliever Matt Stites was compared to Craig Kimbrel by Dbacks scout Bill Gayton.
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) July 31, 2013
Good reports on Stites, who went to Dbacks in Kennedy deal. Couple of scouts raving about his arm. And 51 Ks, 8 bbs at Double A this summer
— Scott Miller (@ScottMCBS) July 31, 2013
Matt Stites is one of my favorite relief prospects. Plus fastball & slider, lots of strikes, doesn't get hit. Nice get for #Diamondbacks.
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisBA) July 31, 2013
Stites is a big time bullpen prospect could very well be Diamondbacks closer next season, he's that good….
— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) July 31, 2013
It’s also worth noting that Stites underwent emergency appendectomy surgery this week that will end his 2013 season.
Matt Stites’ Career Stats