We’ve begun working on a mid-season top-15 prospect list here at Bay City Ball, and neither Stoffel or Sosa landed in my top 15. Stoffel is a 22-year-old reliever that has a good arm and has missed bats in his three years in the Giants system. He’s also given up way too many base runners, both via the hit and the walk. He’s been relatively young or at least age appropriate in his minor league stops, so there is some promise with him. He carries a 10.2 per nine innings strikeout rate and a 2.83 strikeout to walk ratio (K/BB) in his career.
Whether he cracks a big league bullpen or not probably depends on whether or not he irons out his command, a non-zero possibility. But it’s not the sort of thing that holds a general manager, Brian Sabean in this case, from making a move for an upgrade at a position (middle infield) of significant need during a pennant race.
Sosa was a once promising young arm that has had difficulty staying healthy in his career. He pitched 125 innings in 2007 but just 130 over the next two combined. He threw another 115 in 2010 with unimpressive results in Triple-A (4.07 ERA, 1.51 K/BB).
He started 2011 in Double-A and pitched well (2.68 ERA, 4.50 K/BB), but his promotion to Triple-A has not gone smoothly; it seems to be where he’s hitting a wall. His strikeout numbers (though in a small sample of innings) have ticked up in his second stint, but so too have his walks. It’s been good for just a 1.24 K/BB ratio and a ballooned 10.41 ERA.
Both prospects, in rank, probably fall in the 20-30 range for the Giants (a system that isn’t particularly good or deep). This is evidenced by their status as “Others of note” in John Sickels’ preseason prospect rankings.
As I alluded to, Keppinger is a slap hitter. In fact, he tends to walk more often than he strikes out. That’s an awesome thing for a power hitter, but in his case it just means he walks some and strikes out …. almost never (at least by current standards, with a 6.1 percent career rate). He does have some offensive value.
I think this is a good trade for both teams. The Astros have grabbed a couple of good minor league arms with some upside for their depleted system. The Giants grabbed a middle infielder that will not embarrass himself defensively – our litmus test is Miguel Tejada, so you can see how (low?) the bar is set – at second base or shortstop (where he’s an upgrade over Tejada), and who can, at the very least, be the perfect platoon for Mike Fontenot at second base versus lefties. (He has a .381 weighted on-base average (wOBA) against opposite-handed pitchers over his career.)
If you read nothing else in this post, read this: Jeff Keppinger has been a league-average hitter the past two seasons. When you’re playing for the 2011 Giants, that’s something. (Per FanGraphs, he had a 105 wRC+ in 2010, has a 107 in 2011. wRC+ is runs per plate appearance, park and league adjusted, where 100 is average).
He’s probably worth between one and two wins (Wins Above Replacement or WAR) over a full season. Over roughly half a season, maybe that’s one win, and considering he’ll likely take at-bats from Brandon Crawford and Miguel Tejada, you have to figure that win is pure profit. In short, he’s a welcome addition… if used properly.
In other mildly noteworthy (I guess I’ll mention it) news, the Giants have promoted Brandon Belt and installed him in the sixth position in tonight’s lineup, playing first base. Aubrey Huff is having what we at BCB call a “4-3” problem, and he’s apparently also experiencing a stiff lower back — hold the snickers, it’s not from carrying the offense. This is a huge step in the right direction. You hope that he hits and that Huff’s butt stays on the bench, regardless of how his back feels. His bat has been dead dead this year. At no point has he shown any signs of breaking out this season, not over more than a few games.
Four-strikeout game last night notwithstanding, he was crushing the ball in Triple-A since his return from injury, and was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for his work.