|Posted by timahuwe on November 30, 2015 at 4:15 PM|
While we like to assess trades in a vacuum, vacuums rarely exist. Recently, the Cubs dealt infield prospect Frandy Delarosa to Texas for relief pitcher Spencer Patton. One of the things to remember is that the Rangers recently hired former Cubs minor league hitting instructor Anthony Iapoce. Iapoce may have the best current knowledge of Cubs hitting prospects. It may have come down to P.J. Higgins or Delarosa. Dealing from depth is a positive. Today's piece is on Higgins.
Higgins was a 12th Round selection in 2015, from Old Dominion.
Selected as a 2B, he also played some third last year in Arizona and Eugene. The only time a 353rd pick had a career WAR over two was when the Dodgers plucked Jason Thompson out of high school. Thompson was still a pitcher then, but his pro success would come at 1B, after he went to college at Cal State-Northridge. With that, no 353 signing has had a WHIP over 2.0. (Briefly a Cub, Anthony Varvaro was Mr. 1.9.)
Higgins is a hitter. While his numbers don't represent it yet, he sprays line drives all about. At least, in batting practice. Why would the Cubs be willing to part with Delarosa over Higgins? If it boiled to that, part of it may have been his time with the club.
Delarosa signed in 2012. He will be eligible for Rule 5 chicanery, in all its forms, in December of 2016. Higgins will be exempted until two years later. The two (Higgins and Delarosa) are more similar than dis-similar, and would have both been fighting for time at second in South Bend in April. April is a long way from now, but with Iapoce's say-so, the Rangers knew they were getting quality in Delarosa. That Higgins is similar to Delarosa could have made the trade that much easier. The Rangers likely didn't have that many teams in the market for Patton, and the possibility of a minor trade with the Cubs (over a situational smattering of a few of the other sides in the league) may be a foreshadowing of things to come in the league.
If Higgins hits as hoped (I doubt he turns into a Chesny Young, who hit better quicker in his first year), Higgins could move along quickly. However, even if he doesn't, he should provide quality depth in the system for quite a few years. If given the option of getting five-to-seven quality years in the minor leagues, with a possible morphing into a team scout/coach/exec, I think most teams ought to be happy with that from a 12th Round selection. (By the by, Higgins majored in Sports Management, and reads to be a baseball junkie.)
Based on the history of pick 353, it's a bit brash to expect more. However, he profiles as a guy who could trade for a reliever in rather short order. It may have almost happened, already. Or, enough of those line drives could find outfield gaps, and he could be better than I think.