When the Twins received 28-year-old journeyman outfielder Alex Presley in return for Justin Morneau from the Pirates, a knee jerk reaction might have been that the Twins received a fourth outfielder at best for their long time, impending free agent first baseman, Justin Morneau.
While that profile might be the long-term end result, Presley has been receiving regular playing time as the Twins’ starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter all this week. The lefty has had two extended opportunities in the Majors with the Pirates, the second resulting in a .237/.279/.405 line compared to his .298/.339/.465 line in his first go around. At the MLB level, he has indeed demonstrated that there may be high single-digit power/20-plus stolen base potential. At times, Presley has also been able to translate his contact-making skills to the Majors. What has not come along has been the plate discipline. Instead, for the most part, Presley has shown himself to be overly aggressive and quite the opposite of his minor league style. For example this year, Presley produced a .298/.376/.427 line along with a 10% walk rate and 14% strikeout rate.
More than likely, the Twins will attempt to utilize both Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia in their starting outfield in 2014, but that does leave openings for competition in an organization that rarely invests much money on the free agent market, making Presley’s progress and role with the team definitely worth noting for AL-only leaguers.
The Mariners, as part of their September call-ups, added lefty James Paxton to their 40-man roster. Seattle will be moving to a 6-man rotation and Paxton is scheduled to make his MLB debut this coming Saturday. Paxton appeared to be on the fast track after his 2011 season, but dealt with injuries and control problems that lowered his stock somewhat in 2012. His 2013 performance has not been all roses either as he sports a 4.45 ERA and saw his strikeout numbers drop a full point, but did at least see his control improve by a point, a much more important item. Paxton is a hard throwing lefty with a mid to upper nineties fastball and plus curve. After 28 starts at Triple-A this season, he should compete for a rotation spot next spring.
To contrast, Brandon Maurer, who was a surprise winner of a rotation spot this past spring, is also back in the Majors, but serving in a long relief capacity. Maurer was unable to right his ship after his demotion, posting a 5+ walk per nine and a 5+ ERA. There is still middle of the rotation potential here and he is someone very much in need of a fresh start/new season. It is unclear where he fits into the Mariners' long-term plans now, and as a result, he could end up trade bait.
Players to be Named Later
Two players to be named later were dealt this week. Unfortunately, neither pitcher is likely to make any significant splashes.
Langwell, 27, is a former 11th round draft pick out of Rice University. A journeyman reliever, Langwell has had two fairly solid back to back seasons at Triple-A for the Tribe, throwing strikes and missing some bats, though he did suffer a near 3.0 decline in the strikeout rate department from 2012 to 2013. He could see some middle relief action in Arizona or could just as easily continue to be used as an organizational player.
Michael Blazek, 24, is a former 35th round draft pick out of Arbor View High School. He made his MLB debut with the Cardinals earlier this year and is now up in the Brewers’ bullpen. Blazek is a fairly hard thrower who averages around 95 mph on his fastball. He also uses a curve, slider and a changeup. Throwing strikes, even at the minor league level, is somewhat elusive for Blazek and like Langwell, a return to Triple-A next season is the most likely outcome.