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December 11, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Trade analysis: Scouting the prospects dealt for Porcello

As reported this morning, the Red Sox have acquired right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello from the Detroit Tigers. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson and left-handed pitcher Gabe Speier are headed to the Tigers in return. In dealing Cespedes, Wilson and Speier, the Red Sox took advantage of two of the deeper positions in their system, with a surplus of major league outfielders and pitching depth in the upper and lower minors, in order to trade up for proven major league-quality pitching.

- Alex Wilson is well known at this point, having been in the system since being taken in the second round out of Texas A&M back in 2009. He has a sturdy pitcher’s frame, listed at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, with a well-filled out lower half. He throws from a ¾ arm slot with effort in his delivery stemming from long arm action that includes a stab and arm loop.

Wilson relies primarily on his fastball (both four-seam and sinker varieties) and his slider. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range generally, touching 95-96 mph on occasion, but is on the straight side. His sinker has slightly less velocity usually, sitting in the low-90s with late downward action. He has average-to-better command of the offering and solid control. Wilson’s best secondary pitch is his slider, primarily thrown in the 84-87 mph range. The pitch has tight rotation and depth that allows it to serve as a potential plus outpitch. Wilson has feel for the slider and the confidence to throw it in any count. In the higher end of velocity range, the pitch shortens up and looks more like a cutter. On those occasions, he’ll throw it in the high-80s with short, horizontal movement. Wilson’s final pitch is an 86-88 mph changeup that he throws sparingly. The pitch is below-average as it lacks velocity separation from his fastball as well as movement.

Wilson has been prone to giving up the long ball in the past, but really cut down on that during the 2014 season, and showed that he could be a useful reliever at the big league level. He doesn’t have back of the bullpen potential, but could comfortably slot into a sixth inning or maybe even seventh inning role on some nights, especially against right-handed dominant lineups. The Red Sox, however, have a surplus of potential relievers who have a similar profile in the high minors, thus in dealing him they move from a position of strength.

- Gabe Speier doesn’t have standout size or raw stuff, but he has solid feel for pitching and showed some potential after making his return from Tommy John surgery during the 2014 season. Speier was a 19th-round selection in 2013 and received an overslot bonus of $200,000 to sign away from his commitment to UC Santa Barbara. He comes from strong bloodlines with his uncle being former major league pitcher Chris Speier.

Speier is athletic, but undersized, listed at 6-foot-0, 175 pounds. He is relatively polished and has good feel for pitching. His fastball works in the 90-92 mph range, touching up to 93-94 mph in the past. However, he has struggled to hold his velocity as he works deeper in games. His secondary offerings include a curveball and changeup, both of which have shown potential. Speier is a long way from the majors and already has Tommy John surgery on his resume, making him a lottery ticket at this point. He did impress in the GCL during the 2014 season though, showing the ability to throw strikes, miss bats and generate ground balls. Speier doesn’t have much physical projection, but could develop an average three-pitch mix with some upside potential. 

Photo credits: Alex Wilson by Kelly O'Connor; Gabe Speier by SoxProspects, LLC
Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.