Of the four major prospects acquired at the trade deadline, who has the biggest potential to make a splash in the major leagues?
When the 2017 mid-season trade deadline passed, the Minnesota Twins landed four major prospects: Gabriel Moya, Zack Littell, Dietrich Enns, and Tyler Watson. With pitching as a major sore spot for the team over much of this decade, the sizable haul provides optimism for a stable staff in the near future. With some prospects closer to the show than others, let’s evaluate who can make major league impacts the quickest.
Tyler Watson, who was acquired in the Brandon Kintzler trade, was a late round draft choice for the Nationals in 2015. His draw stems from the fact that his velocity has reportedly seen an uptick each year in the minors. As an all-star in 2016 for the New York-Pennsylvania League, he posted a 1.88 ERA in 9 starts, likely leading to his promotion to Single-A Hagerstown.
This season, he was again selected as an all-star, but for Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League, posting an ERA of 4.35 in 17 starts. Watson has tremendous upside, and is only 20 years old. However, with his assignment to Single-A Cedar Rapids, he is likely a long way from the major leagues.
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Gabriel Moya, a former Arizona Diamondback, was acquired through the John Ryan Murphy deal. Signed as a free agent in 2012, Moya has made significant strides in the minors since then. In 2015 for the Missoula Osprey, Moya helped to lead the team to the Pioneer League Championship. As a resident of Missoula, I was fortunate to have seen him first hand that season as he posted a 1.93 ERA in 25 relief appearances.
This season for Double-A Jackson, Moya dazzled with a 0.82 ERA in 34 appearances. Currently assigned to Double-A Chattanooga, Moya could make an impact soon, and prove that the Aaron Hicks trade in the fall of 2015 was well worth it.
Zack Littell may have the greatest upside for any of the pitching prospects listed. Listed as the Yankees’ #20 prospect before being involved in the Jaime Garcia trade, Littell can make an impact quickly if he continues his incredible pace in the minors.
As an all-star this season for Tampa of the Florida State League, Littell went 9-1 in 11 starts, posting a 1.77 ERA and a 7.2 K/9. Littell Is advancing quickly, being assigned to Chattanooga after the trade, and the best part is he is only 21. It would be unsurprising to see him in the majors as early as next season.
Dietrich Enns, the furthest developed prospect of the four, was also a part of the Jaime Garcia deal, and is currently assigned to Triple-A Rochester. A two-time all-star in the minor leagues (2013 for Single-A Charleston & 2016 for Double-A Trenton), Enns can make a big splash in the major leagues, with his call up on Wednesday. In two seasons of Triple-A competition, Enns has a total ERA of 1.88, going 8-4 with a 7.4 K/9. Another solid prospect, Enns has the opportunity to stay at the major league level should he continue his dominance.
One common characteristic for these four pitchers is the high potential, and potential to be great, not just good, major league players. It is frankly surprising that the Twins were able to hoard this much talent after giving away who they did. As fans, we have long been told by management and media to be patient and wait on the prospects. It is difficult to believe in the word “potential” when it has been used circa 2014. With these four pitchers, however, their ceilings are tough to ignore, and hopefully they will be making major league waves sooner rather than later.