On Thursday, the Arizona Diamondbacks squeezed in a pair of trades just before Major League Baseball’s 1 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.
In separate moves, general manager Kevin Towers parted with both outfielder Gerardo Parra and third baseman Martin Prado, bringing back three minor league prospects and a player to be named later.
Parra was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Anthony Banda. Prado, meanwhile, went to the New York Yankees for catcher Peter O’Brien and a player to be named later.
Here’s a brief look at each of the Diamondbacks’ return pieces:
C Peter O’Brien:
The Diamondbacks’ most glaring organizational need seems to be help behind the plate. Targeting O’Brien seems indicative of that reality for Towers and Arizona.
A former second-round pick of the Yankees out of the University of Miami, O’Brien has also played first base and outfield in three seasons in the minors.
But beyond his position, the most eye-opening feature of the O’Brien acquisition can be seen in his ability to hit for power.
“O’Brien is probably one of the better offensive players in the minor leagues right now,” Towers told the media Thursday.
The Miami, Fla. native is currently third in the minor leagues in home runs, with 33 on the year.
“I think he’s kind of like (Mark) Trumbo, he’s like (Paul Goldschmidt), with his power,” Towers went on. “You know, he’s going to hit home runs in pretty much any ballpark you put him in. Probably more pull power now, but we think he’s going to hit for an average. We think he’s going to drive in runs.”
The GM went on to compare him to Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis, due to a similarity he saw in raw power.
O’Brien, who Baseball America ranked as the Yankees’ 23rd best prospect following the 2013 season, when he tallied 22 home runs and drove in 96 runs while hitting .291/ .350/ .544 between two minor league levels.
Towers isn’t alone in his impression of O’Brien’s power. A scout raved to Baseball America about the 24-year-old’s ability at the plate.
“He’s got a clean swing,” one AL scout said. “He’s got legitimate power. It’s a good swing, too. … He’ll put on a pretty good show in BP, too, just with the raw power. He can hit them a long way. It’s every bit of 70 (on the 20-80 scale). I don’t know if there’s many guys with 80, but it’s a surefire 70. Whatever it is, number or not, it’s pretty damn good.”
P Anthony Banda:
One of the prospects acquired in the trade of Parra to the Brewers came in the form of Anthony Banda, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound left-handed pitcher who was actually drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 33rd round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, though he did not sign.
Drafted by the Brewers in the 10th round the following year, Banda features a 90+ mph fastball and a change-up, along with a curveball.
“A projectable left-hander with a 90-92-mph fastball, a plus change-up, a breaking ball in the making, but a guy that our scouts felt, even though he’s probably a couple of years away, had a chance to be in the middle of the rotation, maybe better,” Towers explained of the player.
“He’s athletic, good pitcher’s body,” he went on.
At his last minor league stop, Low-A Wisconsin, Banda was 6-6 with a 3.66 ERA. He tallied 8.93 strikeouts-per-nine innings pitched there, though also walking more than four per nine innings.
Baseball America ranked Banda as the No. 27 prospect in the Brewers system following the 2013 season.
OF Mitch Haniger:
The other prospect acquired by the Diamondbacks in the trade of Parra strikes a sort of resemblance to the player he was traded for. Mitch Haniger, a versatile 24-year-old outfielder, was drafted by the Brewers in the first supplemental round of the 2012 First Year Player Draft, 38th overall.
Following a mere 14-game stint at Low-A Wisconsin, Baseball America ranked Haniger’s arm as the best outfield arm in the Brewers system, following the 2012 season.
Following the 2013 season, which Haniger spent at Low-A Wisconsin and High-A Brevard County, the publication named him the No. 3 prospect in the organization, writing:
The Brewers like many things about Haniger, including his approach, athleticism, arm and budding power. They believe he will develop 20-homer power because of his plate discipline, pitch recognition and quick bat. He works the gaps and shows plus power to the pull side. His running is fringy at best and he is an average defender in right field. His arm is an asset because it’s both strong and accurate. His solid baseball background has given him the confidence and work ethic he’ll need to make adjustments. The Brewers’ most advanced hitting prospect, Haniger reported to the Arizona Fall League to prepare for a 2014 jump to Double-A. If he continues to improve, he figures into Milwaukee’s plans as early as 2015.
Interestingly enough, the Diamondbacks have long had their eye on the outfielder.
“He was in the (Arizona Fall League) and we got to see him a lot (there),” Towers said. “Actually, we were very high on him when he was an amateur. Coming out of the draft, he was very high on our board.”
Haniger was at Double-A Huntsville with the Brewers prior to the trade and he’ll be sent to Double-A Mobile when he officially joins the Diamondbacks organization. At Huntsville, he hit .255 with 10 home runs, 34 RBI and a .732 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Towers said he expects the San Jose native to play in either left field or right field.
“Probably profiles kind of more as a corner outfielder, although he has played center,” the GM said. “Offensive player. Speed is probably the lowest grade we have on him. But a defender with a plus arm, plus power, plus hitter.”