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December 12, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Trade analysis: Scouting the players in the Wade Miley deal

As first reported Wednesday night and made official on Friday, the Red Sox have acquired left-handed pitcher Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks, with right-handed pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster and infielder Raymel Flores headed to Arizona in the deal. The Red Sox dealt from a position of depth, as they have a plethora of right-handed pitching in the upper minors and middle infield prospects in the low minors. For Arizona, it reunites De La Rosa and Webster with De Jon Watson, senior vice president of baseball operations with the Diamondbacks and the director of player development with the Dodgers while the two pitchers were members of that franchise.

Red Sox:  
Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino has previous experience scouting Miley, and provides his take on the left-hander

- Miley was a supplemental first-round pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2008 draft. The lefty starter will be entering his age-28 season with three years of remaining control through arbitration. Miley is listed at 6-feet, 220 pounds and has a filled-out frame with a durable and strong upper and lower half. I've seen Miley pitch live on numerous occasions, and the first thing that stands out is his fast tempo on the mound. Miley wastes no time between pitches and likes to work extremely quickly. He keeps hitters guessing and off-balance with little time to think between pitches. In turn, he keeps his own defense engaged and active.

Miley mainly utilizes a three-pitch mix, with an up-tempo approach and overall solid-average command and control. Miley’s fastball ranges from 90-93 mph and grades about average with solid-average command and control. He does a good job of staying down in the zone and generating ground balls. His best secondary pitch is the changeup at 80-83 mph, which easily grades as a plus pitch with late drop. His third offering is a solid-average slider at 83-86 mph, giving him an effective pitch mix for both right-handed and left-handed hitters. He will also mix in a rare, fringe-average curveball at 77-80 mph.

Miley has proven to be durable, having pitched upwards of 190 innings over his last three seasons. He is a bulldog-type presence on the mound who loves to compete and is not afraid of any situation. His makeup is as good as they come. He will be an instant favorite in the clubhouse and give you everything he has every night. Overall, Miley profiles best as a mid-to-backend starter. He brings a proven track record with durability, giving the Red Sox more reliability and consistency than could be counted on from De La Rosa and Webster, who both always flashed potential, but have never been able to sustain any type of consistency. Miley is leaving behind one of the worst pitching environments in baseball in Arizona, along with a poor defense. The ballpark transition, along with the Red Sox's projected plus defensive alignment, should stand to boost Miley's value, although the move over to the American League will mitigate some of that.  
Chaz Fiorino

- Of the prospects traded, Rubby De La Rosa is the best player heading to Arizona. De La Rosa has impressive raw stuff, but is undersized, has had command issues, and had Tommy John surgery in August 2011. De La Rosa is listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. He is maxed out physically with a well filled-out lower half. His delivery is not the cleanest, and puts a lot of stress on his arm, whipping it towards the plate. He also can have trouble locking in his arm slot, which contributes to an inability to repeat his delivery at times. This was evident from outing to outing in the minors, and it impacted his raw stuff and led to velocity fluctuations. When he is on, De La Rosa’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and can touch 100 mph when he is loose. The pitch shows late, downward, arm-side movement, but even with this movement and plus-plus velocity, he struggles to command the offering and does not miss as many bats as one would expect.

De La Rosa’s primary secondary pitches are a changeup and slider, with the changeup being the best of the two. He has a lot of confidence in the changeup, and showed the ability to throw it for strikes and willingness to throw it in any count during his time in the majors this year, often leaning on it despite his plus-plus velocity. The pitch grades as a potential plus offering, showing drop and fade while sitting between 86-88 mph. De La Rosa throws his slider in the low-to-mid 80s with early, sharp break when he gets on top of the pitch. He is still inconsistent with it though, often dropping his arm slot and getting on the side of the pitch—it can show solid-average some outings, but fringe-average in others. If he remains in the starting rotation, his slider could serve as a passable third offering. In the minors, De La Rosa occasionally took something off his breaking ball, throwing it in the 76-79 mph range with the same action. He did not mix in that pitch during his stint in the big leagues, but did start throwing what seemed to be a cutter in the high-80s late in 2014.

With refined command and improved consistency with his slider, De La Rosa has the potential to be a high-end number three starter. At the age of 25, he still has the ability to reach that ceiling. Should he end up in the bullpen, De La Rosa has the potential to pitch in the late innings, as his fastball-changeup combination should play up and he would be able to get away with only average command.

- The second pitcher in the deal, Allen Webster, had some of the best raw stuff in the Red Sox system, but he also major command issues that will likely push him to the bullpen ultimately. Webster is a great example of a Jekyll-and-Hyde pitcher. If you catch him on a good day, it is easy to project him with three plus-to-better offerings and a loose, athletic delivery; if you catch him on a bad day, it is sometimes a stretch to even project him as a big league reliever.

Webster has an athletic frame, listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, and does not have much projection left despite being on the lean side. He has a smooth, repeatable delivery with a live, loose arm, but struggles with his release point. At his best, Webster sits in the mid-90s with heavy sink and late life on his fastball, generating constant weak contact on the ground. However, his velocity tends to fluctuate, and will range from 90-97 mph, usually settling in the 92-94 mph range. In past years, Webster has relied more heavily on his sinker, but this year he leaned heavily on his four-seamer. However, his biggest problem is that he struggles with his command and control. Graded on velocity and movement alone, the pitch is a plus-plus offering at its best, but his command and control are both still well below average, as he struggles to throw quality strikes and locate the pitch on the inner half, especially against right-handed hitters.

Webster mixes in three secondary pitches, with his changeup and slider the primary ones. His changeup is his best secondary offering, with plus-to-better potential. He throws it with the same arm speed as his fastball, but between 83-85 mph with fade and sink. He has shown the confidence to throw the pitch in any count, and for strikes. It has major league bat-missing potential, especially when he pulls the string on it. His slider shows solid-average-to-plus potential, also in the mid-80s, with two-plane break and depth through the zone. The pitch has bat-missing potential when it is on and is solid complement to his changeup. Webster also occasionally mixes in a show-me curveball in the mid-70s to steal a strike when sequenced correctly. The pitch has depth and flashes fringe-average.

At this point in his development, it is difficult to foresee Webster making the necessary improvements with his command and control to project as a starting pitcher. He also has not shown the same bat-missing ability in the big leagues that he has in the minors. Furthermore, when Webster struggles early in outings, it can tend to spiral quickly, and he often looks frustrated and defeated on the mound. As a result, he is likely to end up pitching in the bullpen, where his command will not have to improve as much. However, if something clicks and he can make significant improvements with his command, then he still has a potential number three-starter profile.

- The final piece of the deal, infielder Raymel Flores, spent the 2014 season with Lowell, showing defensive potential and plus-plus speed, but having issues at the plate. Flores is small and thin, listed at 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, and does not have a frame that looks like it could add much size as he matures. He lacks strength, and that impacts him at the plate. Flores is a switch hitter and hits from a slightly open stance. His has a short, contact-oriented swing, but his bat has a tendency to drag through the zone due to his lack of strength. His approach is very rough, with poor pitch recognition skills. He struggles to barrel balls up, and when he does, he can drive it into the gaps at best, as his power is well below average. Flores is a solid bunter, and knows how to use his speed to his advantage at the plate. 

On the bases, Flores needs to improve his instincts, as even with his speed, he got caught stealing too often, stealing 28 bases in 41 attempts. In the field, Flores spent time at second base and shortstop this season, playing primarily the former in deference to Mauricio Dubon. Flores has the potential to be a plus defender at either position, with fluid actions and soft hands. He has some flair in the field and is comfortable coming in on the ball. He has solid range and good lateral quickness. Based on his defensive profile and speed, Flores has a shot to make the majors in a utility infielder role, however, it all depends on how his bat develops. He has to much swing-and-miss in his game for someone with his offensive profile, and a long ways to go to develop an approach. As a result, the odds Flores even makes it out of Double-A are low, and he should be seen as a throw-in in this trade. – Ian Cundall

Photo credits: Wade Miley by; Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster and Raymel Flores by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.

Chaz Fiorino is Assistant Director of Scouting for Follow him on Twitter @cbfiorino.

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